While the euro is commonly known to be used in several European countries, there are a handful of other regions and countries across the world that also make use of it as their national currency. One of these is Saint Barthelemy, the territory also commonly referred to as St Barts.
You may already be quite familiar with the coins that make up the euro currency. Most of them are available in cents, since this is the subunit of the euro. You can use the one, two and five cent valued coins for example. Also available are the 10 cent, 20 cent and 50 cent coins.
You will also come across six banknotes for the euro – the €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 notes. However with that said you may not often see the biggest three notes as some people don’t like to use them or provide change for them if they run a business. They are also more likely to be forged, which is another big reason many people try to steer clear of them if they can.
The euro became an official currency in 1999. However it took another three years before hard currency came into use; before that time it was only used in a virtual sense. Since St Barthelemy is an overseas collectivity of France, it made sense that the island should also use the euro.
The island is a popular place for tourists to visit so there is no real problem getting hold of the euro there. Of course, since the euro is one of the world’s leading currencies you can easily get some euros before you get on the plane. Ordering them from your local bureau de change shouldn’t be a problem, and you can also often simply walk in and ask for what you need. However it is worth spending a bit of time comparing the rates charged by assorted bureaux de change. They do sometimes charge varying rates. Don’t automatically assume ‘no commission’ means you are getting a good deal either. Always work out exactly what you will get for the amount you pay.
You can also get euros once you are on the island by using the cash machines available there. There are several of these around so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one. You may want to make sure your bank knows where you will be going, so you don’t run into any problems trying to use your card. The same applies if you are going to take one or more credit cards with you to use, since these are widely accepted across the island as well.
Finally you may wish to get traveller’s cheques if you want to have another way to access cash safely while in St Bart’s. It is normally more advantageous to get your cheques cashed at a bank rather than using the service provided by your hotel. This is because hotels generally tend to charge more for the privilege and convenience of getting money there.
This is probably one of the easiest currencies to get an exchange rate for. You can simply use any convenient currency converter you have access to, and enter the amount you wish to exchange from your own currency to that of the euro. The euro will often appear near the top of the list of currencies. While they are usually in alphabetical order, the most popular and frequently searched-for ones are usually at the top. Either that or type in EUR to find it quickly. This will at least give you a ballpark figure to go with, although a bureau de change will charge a rate that is slightly more favourable to them than you.
More information on Saint Barthelemy is available on this website: http://www.saintbarth-tourisme.com/en.
You don’t have too much to worry about when visiting Saint Barthelemy. While it is popular with tourists it does not experience too much in the way of crime. Of course this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. It is only natural for some crime to take place here, and if you are casual with your belongings you may find some of them disappear.
As is the case in all places you visit on holiday, it is a good idea to check into a hotel that can offer you a safe that is secured within your own room. Before you use it make sure it is bolted down so it cannot be removed. You can use this to store any excess cash while you are out enjoying the sights. You should also keep your passport in there for protection.
Whenever you are out make sure you keep an eye on your valuables at all times. It is probably easier to lose something here than to have it stolen; however you should make sure you take good care of everything you have for both reasons.
Saint Barthelemy is an island nation in the Greater Antilles. It consists of one main island and a small number of other much smaller islands. One of these islands is home to the Saint Barthelemy Natural Reserve. These are areas that are protected in order to allow life to flourish here. However you can visit the island and take part in diving and snorkelling in the surrounding waters. Fishing and boating are regulated here and for good reason, so make sure you find out more before doing either of them.
The capital city of St Barts is Gustavia. This can be found on the largest island and it is a charming and attractive place. A number of forts were built in the 1600s to help protect the area, and these can still be seen today. Watch out for signs taking you to Fort Karl, Fort Gustav and Fort Oscar. The capital also plays host to a fascinating museum that can teach you much about the island and the area here. When the sun shines, as it so often does, the beautiful bright red rooftops of Gustavia provide a welcome contrast with the lush greenery of the surroundings and the deep blue waters of the bay beyond. You’ll undoubtedly want to consider hiring a boat or hopping on an organised charter to get a different view of the island and its capital.
There are plenty of other things you can do in St Barts too, not least of which is the attraction of visiting its many beaches. The sight that greets you when you approach Saline Beach for example is quite breath-taking. The crystal blue waters that fade into darker shades the further they go from the beach are stunning, although you may want to enjoy relaxing on the sands more than anything else.
In case you hadn’t already realised, the island is also something of a mecca for those who love scuba diving. The waters are exceptionally clear here and you can enjoy swimming alongside all kinds of colourful fish. Even if you don’t dive you can still put a snorkel to good use! If swimming isn’t your thing there is no need to miss out – one local activity sees semi-submersible vessels heading out into the waters around the island on a daily basis. Once you go downstairs you will be underwater and able to look out of the windows of the vessel to see the sights all the scuba divers will see. This experience can be found in Gustavia Harbour and since the submarine is yellow you can’t miss it. This has to be one of the highlights of seeing the capital for many people – to see what is beneath the waves as a whole other world is alive down there.
Of course this is all likely to make you rather hungry. If you want to indulge in some great food there is arguably no better place to do it than here. French cuisine is very much in evidence, perhaps not surprising since the island is essentially a part of France. You can also try Creole cuisine though, so there is a nice mix and contrast of styles here.
If you like the thought of visiting a warm and pleasant island with fantastic beaches, great views, a splash of history and just as much beneath the waves as above them, St Barts ticks all the boxes. In fact it almost seems as if there are yet more layers to uncover the longer you spend there. So if you are considering visiting a nice island for your next holiday, perhaps Saint Barthelemy could be the best one for you to consider. Bon voyage!