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Grand Case

Saint-Martin (March 2011)

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Grand Case

Saint-Martin

We used the town of Grand Case on the French side of the island as our base while exploring St. Martin. We selected Grand Case for reasons that appealed to us. We're not much into crowds, resorts, casinos or all-night festivities which tended to rule-out the Dutch side. Some people consider those attractive qualities so this isn't intended to disparage what the Dutch provide in Sint Maarten, but merely to demonstrate that we did our research and intentionally chose what would appeal to us personally. Grand Case seemed to fit best with our interests and we were pleased with the results.

The town is picture perfect, with old wooden structures of historic charm and character lining the street. The name of the town, Grand Case, means "Big House" in the local West Indian Creole dialect and many of these big houses still remain. They were constructed long before tourists arrived when they provided homes to many of the people who fished the sea or worked on the nearby plantations.


Grand Case Beach

The Crescent Beach of Grand Case

We chose a small boutique hotel right on the Caribbean Sea towards the southwestern end of Grand Case beach with spectacular views all the way to Anguilla. The space wasn't a typical hotel room but more appropriately a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and living room. The photograph above is literally the view from our patio. Notice the proximity of the sea. The Grand Case beach is indeed very narrow but the sand is fine and the waters calm. It's perfect swimming, lounging and relaxing in near seclusion.

You may be interesting in seeing more about this beach on the page I created for St. Martin beaches we visited.


Grand Case Restaurant Row

The Main Street Through Town

The beach is nice but the town itself is the real reason to stop here. Most everything can be found along a single narrow road including the amazing variety of gastronomic delights that make this St. Martin's "Restaurant Row." Various sources consider Grand Case to be the culinary capital of the Caribbean, and while I'm sure there are other places that might be on the same level it's hard to imagine any place that's better. Fine dining was another primary reason we chose to stay in Grand Case.

There are also quite a number of boutiques for all sorts of shopping unrelated to the restaurants. I took this shot on a Tuesday evening when the town shuts its street to traffic and turns it into an outdoor street festival. This image came from the earlier part of the evening before vendors had set-up the full array of stalls and before the shopping had a chance to really get started. Unfortunately for us, we decided to wait until after dinner to experience the street scene that evening, just as the heavens opened up and it started to pour. We bought a bottle of wine at one of the corner stores and hung out on our patio for the rest of the evening, watching the rain fall as we lounged in a blissfully relaxed state.


Lolo Restaurants

Hanging Out at a Lolo

It's not exclusively about fine dining in Grand Case, although that's certainly a primary claim to fame and a wonderful development. The other end of the dining spectrum, the Lolos, also attract a lot of attention. A lolo is a simple Caribbean Creole restaurant, and we tried a few including Talk of the Town and Sky's the Limit. It has a roof but is otherwise open to the elements. The kitchen is all barbecue grills and cooking pots, clearly visible to diners and passers-by alike who are attracted by enticing sizzles and mouthwatering aromas. There's nothing fancy or pretentious about a lolo. The spectacle sells itself. I love places like these.

Food arrives on disposable plates with plastic forks. What amazing foods, though: expertly grilled chicken, ribs, goat, fish, lobster, and every other manner of seafood. Side dishes are added to the plate in heaping piles. Lolos are very convenient and very inexpensive; a feast at bargain prices. Many of the lolos accepted Dollars equivalent to Euros which resulted in even further savings. It was practically impossible to leave a clean plate behind with the generous portions provided. We easily stuffed ourselves silly for $10 or less per person. I wouldn't want to eat every meal in Grand Case at a lolo but it was a nice occasional indulgence. In fact is seemed like Grand Case covered both ends of the dining spectrum with little else in the middle; either very expensive fine dining or dirt cheap lolos. We enjoyed eating our way from one side of town to the other.


Sunset at Grand Case

Watching the Sunset While Dining

Grand Case also features exceptional sunsets, either from the beach or from one of the many waterfront restaurants such as the location where we took this photograph. I have not enhanced these colors. This is actually how the camera captured the scene as the disk of the sun sank slowly into the Caribbean Sea. It certainly added to the ambiance of a great meal on our final night in St. Martin.