Marigot, the Main Town on the French Side
The town of Marigot gets its name from the many swamps, or marigots, that used to exist here. Sugar cane production was the major contributor to the rapid growth of Marigot over the 18th century, when it became the capital of the French side and the administrative center of St. Martin. In 1970, one part of the lagoon was filled, which allowed for an extension of the village. This was followed with a second filling in 1990, which made way for the road built along the waterfront.
Serving the two northern islands, St. Martin and St. Barths, Marigot is home to the sub-prefecture headquarters and the center for all administrative services (Office of the Collectivity, sub-prefecture services, border police, customs…). Marigot is made up of different districts: Agrément, Hameau Du Pont, Galisbay, Concordia, Sandy Ground, St. James, and Bellevue.
Rue de la République
This road is one of Marigot’s main thoroughfares. The traditional housing facades dating back to the 19th century have, for the most part, been preserved with architectural authenticity. The ground floor of buildings is built with stone walls mortared with lime, and the second floor is wooden, built with traditional construction methods. The street-facing facades have at least one balcony per floor, and are decorated with friezes, or gingerbread trims, and finely crafted railings. At the end of the street, on the waterfront, Marigot market offers a taste of local flare and flavor every day of the week but Sunday.
Marigot’s Catholic Church
The church was built in 1941 on Rue du Fort Louis. Before then, there was a predominantly protestant Anglo-Saxon population, and the Catholic minority did not have a place of worship. The first priest came to St. Martin in 1936, and in 1941, Father Wall took on the building project of Marigot’s Catholic church. He was also behind the Grand Case church building project, which occurred around the same time, using the same stone and lime construction methods. In 1971, extensions, notably the presbytery, were made to Marigot church. The little chapel adjoining the presbytery was completely renovated a few years ago, employing the same mid-20th century building methods.
Marigot’s Old Prison
Located on a small lane heading towards Fort Louis, the prison, built at the same time as the Fort, was ordered by Jean Sébastien de Durat, who governed St. Martin and St. Barths for the King of France at the time. The prison was occupied until 1968, and was later transformed into St. Martin’s fire station. It has seen a number of transformations since, but the facade on Rue Perrinon remains similar to the original. Currently, there is no prison on the French side of St. Martin, and prisoners are jailed in the detention center in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe.
Built in 1789, the same period as Fort Louis and the prison, Durat Bridge is a stone bridge at the exit of Marigot heading towards Grand Case. The people wanted the bridge to be named Durat in honor of their beloved leader, and had a large stone placed at the center of the parapet wall bearing their respect in an inscription. But this symbol, which for the revolutionaries represented aristocratic power, was removed. Today, this structure located in the Hameau du Pont neighborhood allows for rainwater from the surrounding hills to run into the Galisbay lagoon.
François-Auguste Perrinon’s Tomb
François-Auguste Perrinon, born in 1812 in Martinique, was an active participant in the abolition of slavery. A shareholder in St. Martin’s salt manufacturing companies, in 1847 he published a work which described how freed and paid slaves showed better performance compared to mistreated slaves, entitled “Résultat d'expériences sur le travail des esclaves.” In 1848, he was part of a commission organized by Victor Schoelcher, where he fought for compensation for slaves. At the end of his political career, he retired in St. Martin to continue his work in salt manufacturing. He passed away in 1861, and his tomb is located in the Marigot cemetery.