A quaint neighborhood on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, Frenchtown was established in the 19th century, after it became home to the French immigrants who traveled over from St. Barths. While Frenchtown today may be most revered for its array of delicious restaurants and bars, it is also a great place to visit to soak up some of the unique culture and heritage that this area has to offer.
The Frenchtown Fish Market
If you have arrived in Frenchtown early enough, then a visit to the Gustave Quetel Fish House, known to locals as the Frenchtown Fish Market, is definitely recommended. It is here that local fishermen gather in the early mornings to sell their catch, and even if you do not plan on buying any fish, the sight of these traders selling crates of tropical fish from the back of their trucks is still worth experiencing.
French Heritage Museum
After a visit to the Frenchtown Fish Market, it is only a short journey to the French Heritage Museum, where you can easily while away the rest of the morning by taking in the historic displays. The museum contains around 400 different items that have been donated by the local community over the years, from fishing nets and meat hooks to artistic four poster beds, and is a great way to learn more about Frenchtown’s French heritage.
Exploring the Neighborhood
When exploring a new area that is rich in heritage, it is sometimes fun to simply wander the streets, taking in all of the local flavor. When it comes to Frenchtown, the winding streets are a joy to explore, lined with tiny wooden houses that have been passed down the generations. The brightly painted boats along the waterfront are a popular sight to photograph, and if you spend some time talking to some of the locals, you will likely notice that they speak with distinct patterns that are different to the other residents of the island.
Food and Drink
Frenchtown is known for its gastronomy and offers an eclectic range of quality restaurants to choose from. The Oceana Restaurant boasts a seaside patio that is part of a historic estate and serves up innovative global cuisine, as does the Epernay Bistro and Wine Bar, while Hook, Line and Sinker focuses on creative American and Caribbean dishes. For those who want to try some artisan sushi made from that day’s freshly caught fish, head over to Enkai, while those who are craving continental European dishes should try Alexander’s Bella Blue. If you are more in the mood for a light snack, Rum Shandy is a casual joint that serves up fish tacos, sandwiches and burgers, or you can buy some tasty deli items from the Frenchtown Deli.
Frenchtown has a distinct vibe that stands out from the rest of St. Thomas, with a cultural heritage that is unique to that area alone. While it may not be that large in size, a day spent exploring the neighborhood will definitely be an enjoyable one, and will enable you to experience a part of St. Thomas’ history that you may not otherwise have witnessed.