Choiseul, known for its arts and crafts, is on the west coast, close to Gros Piton.
History of Choiseul
Originally called L’anse Citron (Lime Bay), the village was renamed in 1762 in honour of the Duc de Choiseul. The main crops included cocoa, coffee and cotton. A 1784 census noted seven sugar estates, some of which are fairly well preserved. The Balenbouche Estate is a popular wedding location, with the old waterwheel featuring in many wedding pictures. Three sugar mills stand in the area and are an identifying feature of Choiseul.
The people and their trades
Choiseul has always been known as the craft capital of Saint Lucia. The villagers produce pottery, straw mats, straw baskets, wooden furniture and wood carvings, all made from locally sourced material. You can purchase them at the Choiseul Arts and Craft Centre. If you’re lucky enough to have a tour guide who is knowledgeable of Choiseul, and who knows exactly where the artisans live, you may be able to buy directly from them.
Fishing is widely practiced. The Japanese helped to fund a station at the harbour where fishermen can clean, gut and sell their catch.
Things to do
Choiseul is laid back, and doesn’t have all the hustle and bustle of other districts. Spending the day at the beach is always a great idea. Anse L’Ivronge is a beautiful, quiet beach at the foot of a hill. If not travelling by boat, it’s a bit of a trek but well worth it. Once known as the Bay of Drunkards, it is where the sugar from the estates was loaded onto boats. The Carib inhabitants of Choiseul called it Yakuha Bay, or Fertility Bay.
After spending the day at the beach, you may want to visit the Choiseul Art Gallery, or the newly opened Batik Studio and Gallery.
Saint Lucia generally is still agricultural, and Choiseul is no different. What makes it special, however, is that it is known for producing ‘P’ foods: potatoes, plums and peanuts.
One of the most fascinating stories is that of the “Devil’s Bridge” located in River Doree. As legend goes, a man wanted to build a bridge across a 60-metre deep ravine. He made a deal with the devil who, in return for constructing the bridge, could take the soul of the first person to walk across it. Upon completion of the bridge, the man sent across a dog that vanished when it reached the other side. Although just a local superstition, those who use the bridge always look over their shoulder, just in case!