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Life in Saint Martin

On St. Martin, the tempo of everyday life is set by the local art of living that’s waiting to be discovered on your next vacation!

Life in Saint-Martin,
in a multicultural island

Since the 1980s, St. Martin has undergone a real population boom. People of more than 120 nationalities live on St. Martin, the majority being French, Haitian, Dominican, American, or European. The official language used in the administrations and schools is, of course, French. But thanks to the island’s cosmopolitan history, English is widely spoken among the population. 

Drapeau français Fort Louis

Living on St. Martin/Sint Maarten, an Island with a Unique Status

St. Martin is divided into two geographical zones. In 1648, the Treaty of Concordia split the island into two parts: the southern side (Sint Maarten) was granted to Holland, the northern side to France, and the border was left open.

Frontiere Quartier d'Orléans

French Side

St. Martin is a French Overseas Collectivity with a special status that has given it increased autonomy since 2007, and the possibility of seeing its position evolve further. Daniel Gibbs has been the Collectivity’s chairman since 2017.

Living on St. Martin and Representing France

Today, the deputy seat for St. Martin is held by Claire Guion-Firmin. Since the September 2008 elections, St. Martin has also had a representative in the Senate. Today, this is Senator Guillaume Arnell.

Dutch Side

In 1954, the Netherlands granted a status of broad internal autonomy to the Netherlands Antilles. Sint Maarten administratively detached itself from the Netherlands, to become an independent nation.

Couleurs vives Philipsburg

St. Martin,
an Island with Colorful Architecture

Many influences have left their mark on St. Martin’s architecture. The island still has some beautiful colonial-style mansions.

Hotel Collectivité

On the French side, the traditional Creole houses reflect these historical and climatic influences. Typical huts decorated in brightly colored, finely chiseled wooden features are proudly displayed on the streets of Marigot and Grand Case. When Europeans arrived on the island, they built the streets of Marigot in their usual grid layout. Many constructions of wood and stone were given two floors, a sheet-metal roof, and coats of brightly colored paint. Living on St. Martin means living with centuries of history.

On the Dutch side, the traditional Dutch-style buildings, the famous half-timbered houses, have an American influence. The emphasis is on their decorative appearance rather than the architecture itself. The residents of Philipsburg are proud of the town’s wide scattering of bright colors. These facades ooze with the joy of living, togetherness, and the hospitality of St. Martin.

Musicien Mardis Grand Case

Living to Music on the Island of St. Martin

All of the islands in the Caribbean have one thing in common: rhythm and dance. St. Martin lives to the beat of the music of the tropics. On St. Martin, any excuse to celebrate is good enough. A host of highlights and major cultural events, like Grand Case Tuesdays, and Carnivals on both sides of the border, unite the island in harmonious rhythms.

Mardis Grand Case défilé

Since 2016, the SXM Festival has become an unmissable event in the world of electronic music. 

Musique électronique SXM Festival

The craziest of parties are held in all sorts of venues, including beaches, lagoons, tropical forests, villas, nightclubs, and even boats.

Spot forêt tropicale
Lotterie farm party

Living on St. Martin,
the Land of Games and Traditions

Games are conducive to strong social links. The people of St. Martin enjoy reconnecting with their traditions of entertainment and togetherness.

Dominos

Dominoes

Among other Caribbean pastimes, a quiet game of dominoes is at the top of the list. People here have lots of enthusiasm for this game!

Bingo

The game of bingo is a firm favorite among the Haitian community of St. Martin. It costs a dollar a round, to rest and play at the same time.  After their week’s work, Haitians get together for a bingo session.

Life on St. Martin, the Island of Painters

The dazzling light and crystal-clear waters have always inspired artists in their perception of the magical. The island culture does the rest. This island is teeming with artists, painters, sculptors, and ceramicists, including some world-famous names like Roland Richardson and Francis Eck. It has art galleries and exhibitions galore, whatever the time of year.

Art galleries

  • Minguet Art Gallery: Colline de Rambaud.
  • Roland Richardson Gallery: 6 Rue de la République.
  • Tropismes Gallery: 107, Boulevard de Grand Case.
  • Noco Art Studio and Gallery: 39 Rue de La Falaise.
  • Eck Francis Artist Studio: 47 Jardins de la Baie Orientale.
  • Association Wall Art Saint-Martin
Wall art
Wall Art Marigot

LIFE ON ST. MARTIN,
between Creed and Religion

Religion plays an important role in the lives of the residents of St. Martin. With its incessant flows of immigration, many different communities coexist on St. Martin. Catholics, Anglicans, Adventists, Protestants, and Methodists are the majority religions. It isn’t unusual to hear the sound of gospel music escaping from a church and filling the street during Sunday morning Mass. The Muslim and Hindu religions also have many followers, as do voodoo and Rastafarian beliefs. All communities coexist with a deep mutual respect and a characteristic humility. Living on St. Martin offers the freedom of expressing one’s beliefs and keeping family traditions alive, while reaching out to others.

Eglise Marigot