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Marigot Lighthouse

Marigot, Saint-Martin (March 2011)

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Saint-Martin Lighthouse

Marigot Lighthouse


I like visiting lighthouses and try to seek them out whenever I travel. The island of St. Martin seemed like a likely place for a lighthouse, particularly at the harbor for the capital city and major town on the French side, Marigot. Sure enough, some quick searching on the Internet identified one called the Baie du Marigot ("Marigot Bay") Light. With knowledge of its approximate location now in hand we decided to search for it once we visited the island. We spent much of the morning at the Marigot Market (see my Marigot Place du Marché page) right along the waterfront. I scanned the horizon but couldn't find the light.

Later that day we decided to get a little elevation by climbing up to the ruins of old Fort Louis, built in 1789 to protect Marigot from marauding Englishmen based in nearby Anguilla (see my Fort Louis page). We toured the site for quite awhile and enjoyed the history and the panoramic views. I tried my hardest to spot the lighthouse from that vantage. I figured that if I could see it from anywhere, it would be from up here. I scanned every section of coastline visible to the naked eye. I could for see miles in every direction, including all the way down to the runway tower at Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of the island. I could even see quite clearly all the way to Anguilla on the horizon. However I couldn't spot a lighthouse as hard as I tried. I gave up. I figured the Internet must have been wrong.

We came back down from the hillside and decided to explore the harbor, having given up on the lighthouse. We walked past Le West Indies Mall and towards Marina Fort-Louis. As we turned the corner, there was the Marigot Light staring us directly in the face! We couldn't see it from the fort because the lighthouse was built directly at the base of the steep hill. It was nearly directly below us when we were on high. We were oh-so-close all the time and never knew it. Stumbling upon it was pure luck.

How might one describe the lighthouse at Marigot? Well, frankly, the word underwhelming comes to mind. It's hardly a remarkable structure, standing a diminutive 10 metres with a focal plane of 20 metres. Notice also the puny little light sitting atop the stubby conical tower. It's functional. It's utilitarian. However it's not exactly an architectural delight. It also had the misfortune to be placed right alongside a busy road at the end of a somewhat informal, muddy parking lot. It took quite a bit of maneuvering to snap this photograph with some greenery strategically hiding most of the whizzing traffic and parked cars. I wouldn't go out of my way to see it but it's worthwhile if you happen to be in Marigot already for another purpose, perhaps. Still, it's a lighthouse and it counts even if it's not going to win any awards as a romantic spot.

Readers who have an interest in lighthouses might also want to check my Lighthouse Index page.