Fort St. Louis
Built on the orders of Louis XVI in 1767, Fort St. Louis sits atop a cliff overlooking Marigot, the capital of the French side of Saint Martin / Sint Maarten. Long decommissioned, the fort still waves the French flag. The formidable walls and cannons that protected the island from invading powers and pirates are in excellent shape today.
From the fort, enjoy a sweeping view of the coastline and the sea, all the way to neighboring Anguilla. Explore Fort Louis as part of a half-day, full-day, group or private tour that includes visits to the island’s main attractions such as a walking adventure through Marigot’s historic streets, boutique shopping, and stopping for a meal at one of the many excellent eateries in Grand Case.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Fort St. Louis is ideal for nature and history buffs.
- Entry is free.
- Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds.
- Remember to bring sun protection, swimwear, and drinking water.
- The climb to the top of the fort is safe, but does require appropriate footwear.
How to Get There
Fort St. Louis is just north of Simpson Bay Lagoon along the west coast of Saint Martin, overlooking Marigot, the largest settlement on the French side of the island. Expect about a 20-minute drive from Philipsburg. At the underground parking lot, take the steps up to the fort.
When to Get There
Fort St. Louis is an open-air attraction and welcomes visitors year-round. Visit Saint Martin / Sint Maarten in the spring or fall for deals on hotels and flights. Visit from February to June when humpback whales pass by the island on their way north, or during Carnival, which is a pre-Lenten festival on the French side and a post-Easter festival on the Dutch side.
Fort Amsterdam on the Dutch Side
Head to the peninsula on the western side of Great Bay to see the island’s other fort, as well as a smattering of colonial artifacts including cannons and a skeleton of a Spanish soldier. Built by the Dutch in 1631, Fort Amsterdam provided an important vantage point in the dispute over the island among the Dutch, French, and British. Peek along the coast where brown pelicans make their nests.