A tiny fishing village not that long ago, Marigot, St. Martin, has gracefully grown more commercial. Streets are narrow, charming and lined with wooden houses trimmed with gingerbread fretwork and wrought-iron balconies; a few are still residences, but most have been transformed into restaurants and boutiques.

The town, which is the capital of St. Martin, is an interesting combination of things typically French blended with the characteristically Caribbean: Trendy French youth hang out at sidewalk cafes facing the harbor; the aroma of fresh-baked baguettes and croissants mingles with the strong scents of spices sold in straw baskets by brightly garbed women. There is also an open market where you can buy fish, fruits and spices.

Overlooking the activity of Marigot are the ruins of Fort St. Louis, the island's largest historical monument. It's an easy 200 steps up from the market, and is best climbed at sunset.

Pic du Paradis is the highest point on either side of the island (1,412 ft/424 m). The view from the top is worth the drive north out of Marigot.

The steep and winding road up Pigeon Pea Hill and then down to one of St. Martin's largest resorts, Anse Marcel Beach, presents a great view of Orleans, the surrounding countryside, Islet Pinel, Tintamarre Island and St. Barts. Phone 876-700.

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