"A real South American Jewel" Top 5 Page for this destination French Guiana by johnkebab

French Guiana Travel Guide: 133 reviews and 358 photos

A well kept secret

French Guiana, or 'Guiane'is situated on the North-East corner of South America and has borders with Brazil, Suriname and the Atlantic.
The country is a French state, therefore considered part of France, like Martinique or Guadeloupe, so the Euro is used, French is spoken, vehicles are French plated and there are reasonably cheap links to French islands in the Carribean.
The 3 main towns in the country are Cayenne, Kourou and St. Laurent. Kourou is home to the ESA space port and is the home to Ariane 5, the workhorse of Arianespace, once in a while one of these great big dildos launches to place satellites in space (see photo).
Cayenne is the capital and is quite vibrant, with the market on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, it has a very caribbean feel to it with some great colonial architecture and an old fort left over from the bad old days, there is an excellent museum there and an abundancy of restaurants and bars.
St. Laurent is on the border with Suriname, and you could probably get away with speaking English here more than you could in the rest of the country, from here it is possible to go on river expeditions into the back of beyond on aluminium boats called Pirogues, there is also a very good tour of the processing prison where the French convicts arrived, it is possible to see the cell Henri Charriere (Papillon) got put in it has a lot of colonial architecture so you can get quite a good feel for how the place used to be when the department was still a penal colony.

'La Guiane' as it is lovingly known to all who know it is truly a unique place in our world, it benefits from falling under the protection of Metropolitan France with all the dosh that they can pump into the economy, on the other hand, it represents a very dark period in French history and so tourism is relatively sparse here, especially for anyone from outside France, which works very very well, most of the country is untouched and completely unspoiled by overtourism.

Checkout my pages on various towns and places in French Guiana, as I do more, I shall endevour to put more up........

The history of French Guiana is truly rich as is the history of the region of the Guyanas, read 'Papillon' by Henri Charriere or ' The convict' by Felix Milani, you will know something about the history of the place, from St Laurent du Maroni in the west, to St Georges du Oyapoque in the South east the colonial history of French Guiana is everywhere, from the roads you drive on to the abandoned villages and shanty houses scattered along them.

The country truly is different, for people who have travelled a lot and become jaded with the similarity with many countries nowadays, French Guiana is something else, something unique that you won't forget in a hurry.

One of the most striking things about living here is the community spirit of the place, the country is small enough that people in Cayenne know people in St Laurent and vice versa, events organised in one town, whether it be an art exhibition to a beach rugby tournament will be visited by people from all over French Guiana, normally with the largest events (expos) etc being held in Cayenne (the capital), of course.

The income of the country is helped along substantially by the CSG (Centre Spatiale Guyanaise), ' Europes space port' and home to the Ariane 5 launch site (and future home to Vega and Soyuz), launches take place about 5 times a year and are truly amazing to watch, especially when you consider where you are and also if you're watching from within the forest, certain places become out of bounds during a launch depending on wind direction, but one thing is for sure, if you're in and around Kourou, you'll get a very good view.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Quiet corner of the world, almost untouched
  • Cons:Security
  • In a nutshell:A very unique little place
  • Last visit to French Guiana: Nov 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (7)

Comments (2)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Feb 15, 2016 at 7:15 PM

    been told that French Guiana is very expensive but if i go to Suriname it would be great to visit even just for a 2 day tour if its possible....particularly would like to visit the Papillion jail area

    • angiebabe's Profile Photo
      Feb 16, 2016 at 11:28 AM

      i think i mainly would like to see the jail, but i guess i need to get aware of a fuller list of the options. i was told FG is much more expensive or very expensive - would the same be for the taxi trip?

    • johnkebab's Profile Photo
      Feb 16, 2016 at 9:22 PM

      Paramaribo-St Laurent isn't too bad I seem to remember, but from St Laurent to Kourou the only really viable option is a 'collectif', kind of taxi bus that the locals take. You can share a taxi with other people and that will bring the cost down, you can also get a collectif from Paramaribo to the border, which will bring the cost right down, but takes longer and can be cramped.

  • May 30, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Why do you say that Guyane (not Guiane) represents a "very dark period in French history"?

johnkebab Used To Live Here!


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