French West Indies: De Gaulle's Western Outpost

Most of the Caribbean islands throb to the rallying cries of independence and nationalism. But the French West Indies — Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Guadeloupe's six dependencies — seem as placid as the emerald waters that lap their pearl-white beaches. In the westernmost backwater of Charles de Gaulle's French community 4,250 miles from Paris, natives and tourists sit at sunny, sidewalk tables placidly nibbling crusty French bread and sipping flat French beer; in narrow streets, the scent of bougainvillaea mingles with the fumes of beeping Simcas and Peugeots. And when le grand Charles stops over in Guadeloupe and Martinique...

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