In Gustavia, the capital, there are branches of several well-known French shops (such as Cartier). The small crowd of habitués is mostly young, chic, and French. The food, wine, and aromas are equally Gallic. The harbour or Carénage was renamed Gustavia after the 18th-century Swedish king, Gustavus III, and became a free port, marking the beginning of the island’s greatest prosperity.
In 1852 a fire severely damaged the capital, although the Swedish influence is still evidenced in the city hall, the belfries, the Forts (Karl, Oscar and Gustave), the street names and the trim stone houses which line the harbour. In the southeast inner corner in front of the Anglican church, is a truly massive anchor. Probably from a British Royal Navy Frigate, and dating from the late 18th Century, it weighs 10 tons. Marked “Liverpool...Wood...London”, it came to Gustavia by curious means in 1981. The cable of a tug towing a barge across from St Thomas fouled on something at the entrance of the harbour. A local man dived down to have a look and found the anchor. It is thought that the cable dragged it up as the tug left St Thomas. Suspended below water, unseen, it got carried across. St Barts Municipal Museum with an exhibition of the history, traditions and local crafts of the island, is at La Pointe, near the Wall House. Mon-Thu 0830-1230, 1430-1800, Fri 1500-1800, Sat 0830-1200, entrance 10F, T278907.
From Gustavia, you can head north to the fishing village of Corossol (see Beaches & Watersports), continuing to Colombier and the northwest beaches; south over Les Castelets and the hills of Morne Lurin to Anse du Gouverneur; or to Saint-Jean and beaches and settlements on the east end. A hired car can manage all the roads.