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British sailors in the 17th century referred to something that's top-notch as being in "ship-shape and Bristol fashion." Twenty-first-century travelers could just as well say it's "Guadeloupe."  
Credit: Simon-And-You/Flickr 
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Nearly everything has a home at some point in the archipelago: rainforests and waterfalls, beaches and national parks, and seaside bars and fantastic local cuisine.  
Credit: SnippyHolloW/Flickr 
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The only consistent thing you'll see among the islands is the warm and crystalline water of the Atlantic Ocean.  
Credit: rayced/Flickr 
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The two islands that form the greater part of this country in the Lesser Antilles (often remembered by its butterfly shape) are the perfect mix of everything we love about France—a modern foundation with all the antiquated charms found on a Parisian café-lined street.  
Credit: Photodisc 
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The laidback island life is in full bloom as dogs laze about on front porches and tourists nap in the white sand. You'll likely be partaking in the lifestyle as well after a day's lunch of authentic Creole cuisine, French patisseries, and local sugar that is distilled into rum.  
Credit: myope layer/Flickr 
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Pointe-à-Pitre is the capital city of Guadeloupe, with most of the action centered around the Quai de la Darse, the town's pier. In the colorful local markets you can purchase anything from spices to fresh fish and fruit to tourist souvenirs.  
Credit: tryoguest/Flickr 
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Guadeloupe's largest festival is the Mardi Gras Carnival, a five-day celebration on the streets of all the tiny towns and villages, and more largely in Pointe-à-Pitre and Basse-Terre.  
Credit: Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board 
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The most extravagant Mardi Gras parades take place on Shrove Sunday, Tuesday's Mardi Gras, and Ash Wednesday.  
Credit: Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board 
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Like on most islands, water sports abound here. The beaches are filled with surf schools and beach bars, and boats line up to take tourists on snorkeling tours of the surrounding islands.  
Credit: rachel_thecat/Flickr 
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Though all of the beaches are beautiful, the favorite is usually Grand Anse on the island of Basse-Terre. The beach stretches for nearly a mile; the golden-yellow sand is shaded by hundreds of coconut palms and sea grapes.  
Credit: Jean-Pierre Pieuchot/Photodisc 
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Perhaps the most spectacular sight on the islands is an ocean sunset—best enjoyed with a bottle of French wine.  
Credit: kopretinka/Flickr 
 
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