St Pierre and Miquelon

St. Pierre and Miquelon

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Journeys with Pierre & Miquelon

A small part of France is floating twenty-five kilometres off the Burin Peninsula. St-Pierre and the Miquelon are not only in France with their cap es, bagsuettes and bordeaux, they are France, ruled and funded by the tricolour. St Pierre is the more populous and advanced of its 5500 inhabitants, most of whom live in the city of St Pierre.

The Miquelon is bigger in geographical terms but has only 600 inhabitants. In 1536 Jacques Cartier took the island for France after it was found by the Portuguese in 1520. In 1763, at the end of the Seven Years' Wars, the island was handed over to Great Britain and returned to France in 1816.

France's most dramatic little secret: The astonishing story of St-Pierre & Miquelon

So I went through Canada and showed up on the other side in France. The strangest geo-political peculiarity of the globe, St. Pierre & Miquelon, is a small island that makes only a brief cruise off the shores of Canada's Newfoundland. There is no doubt that you will be in France when you arrive:

History of St. Pierre, like most of the New World isles, began in a Dickensic way and moved between Franco- and Britannic domination through a repetitive succession of colonisations, burnt soil attacks and recolonisations by the enemy powers. In 1816 a stable settlement was built on St. Pierre.

One of the most beautiful deep-water landing stages in the whole area, which could manage large trawler and fishery boats without much work. However, the tongue-in-cheek was that the harbour was on the most windy, foggy and rocky part of the archipelago, which made the life of the early fishers intolerable.

The Miquelon next-door - an offence to injuries - profited from a gentler micro-climate and much farmland, but had no harbour large enough to support the marine industries. During an entire 100 years, the catch of Atlantic cod helped the wind-whipped colonies of grafts from Brittany, Normandy and the Basel area ( (all of which are duly displayed on the present island's legal flag), while fishing from the apparently inundation.

Everyday catch was seasoned and sent all over the word, making St Pierre the capitol of the French-speaking area. Also its spirited climate gave St. Pierre a second name: the shipwreck cemetary. The wreckage during the heyday of the fish industries was so great that the local people believe that the huge amount of drowning debris formed the 12 km long narrow aisle that connects the north part of Miquelon-Grande Miquelon with the south part, Langlade.

In the eighteenth amendment adopted by the US administration banning the selling, manufacture and transport of alcoholic beverages, St. Pierre became the non-official point of entrance for all U.S.-bound liquors. The St. Pierre tapping of Canada spirit, Carribean rum and France made the island such an important wheel on the smuggler's plane that fishing plants quickly became warehouses and stills were quickly opened - even Al Capone stayed a little while in St. Pierre and called the still open Hotel Robert home.

Alcoholics became so ubiquitous in St. Pierre that most fishers and ship builders gave up their naval occupations for more profitable employment possibilities for US mobsters. However, the most colourful moments in the island's entire past were yet to come. In spite of the unbelievable abundance of Atlantic cod, which led to the long-term colonisation of the island, and the favourable geo-political situation during the prohibition period, St-Pierre was even more important and strategically important during the Second World War.

As Nazi Germany conquered the north of France, the south of France, Vichy France, became an independent and international recognised state. St. Pierre, the apparently abandoned Macedonian settlement, was now under the reign of Vichy and came to the limelight when both the axis and the Allies realised that the island was now the most important geographical centre for the whole of Europe's Second World War front.

American allies were tied by a diplomatic agreement with Vichy France, so it was De Gaulle's exile administration - supporter of the Parisian opposition - that carried out a secret operation to St. Pierre to rule out any chance of the axis becoming the hub of the war. On Christmas Eve 1941, the isles were silently "invaded".

It was the first great game for free France, which took place very early in the country's history, as the Third Reich's powers were still growing very strongly. Today, the wild French-born St. Pierre & Miquelon has fallen back into the darkness due to a small island that floats from the backcountry of Canada's most eastern provinces - its geographic location is now much more a rewards for fearless travellers than the focus of global commerce or military action.

St. Pierre is selling his colourful story with thick brush strokes that go with the lively paintings on the boxes that line every avenue. Brief excursions, such as a guided visit through the city' s past and architectural heritage, tell the story of St. Pierre's charming past, but also a prohibitive expedition for drinking enthusiasts. You can also buy a small guide to the best walks on the island - hike no. 7 to Anse à Henry (two hour round trip) is a great introduction to St. Pierre's breathtaking north rim, where you will often find a clear micro-climate, which after archeological remnants was a small proto-inuit village many thousand years ago.

Far from the fastfood at the marina in Newfoundland, St. Pierre offers everything you can find in any province on the French continent. Onboard the Cabestan, a 30-minute cruise from St. Pierre to Fortune in Canadian Newfoundland, four hours ashore.

There are also direct connections between St. Pierre and St. John's, Halifax and Montreal.

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