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Les Castelets

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Dominique View Drop Down
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    Posted: 01 January 2007 at 4:20am

I loved the thread on Autour du Roche, and it has inspired me to seek a similar response for Les Castelets, where we spent our 1988 honeymoon.  All our pictures were lost in a flood in our basement, and I'm wondering if anyone has shots of this special place they can post?  Such as, the restaurant, the adorable tiny triangular shaped pool, the view of the airport runway from the porch, the gardens, etc.  I will never forget our arrival, driving up the narrow and steep driveway and seeing this magical place for the first time. 

Lost in a hurricane, the deteriorated ruins are sad indeed.  Who owns the property now?  Why wasn't this very successful restaurant and small inn rebuilt?  One of the best views on the island was the view from Castelets.

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Midwest Mike View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Midwest Mike Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 January 2007 at 4:36am

Here is a pic I previously posted on this site.  It was taken at Castelets in 1993.

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GregB View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GregB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 January 2007 at 10:16am

Les Castlets pre-dated my discovery of SBH, so I too would like to learn more about this legendary establishment.  Phil Stripling wrote a little about it in his 1997 SBH trip.

http://www.cieux.com/stbarth/stbeat.html

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soleil View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote soleil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 January 2007 at 10:17am

Originally posted by Dominique Dominique wrote:

 One of the best views on the island was the view from Castelets.

Villa Au Petit Pont in Lurin has one of the most panoramic views of all our SBH villa stays...the property also lies in the shadow of the ruins of Les Castelets.  Upon arrival, our greeter pointed to the phenomenal landing strip view and then equally turned our attention to the ruins of Les Castelets, conveyed as a beloved and special place. Throughout our stay we alternately looked out to the expansive view of the runway and up to the ruins of Les Castelets, wondering aloud  "if the view is amazing from here how must the view be from there".  It is puzzling that this beautiful location remains in ruins.....providing a mysterious backdrop to our stay.....conjuring up the thought....."If these walls could talk...."

Nice pic MM...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Squally Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 January 2007 at 10:31pm


Here is a pic of it from about a year ago- Quite a contrast from Midwest
Mike's shot!
The new owners should be starting construction soon. Nothing has been
done with it up till now because permits have been near impossible. The
man who owns it now has had ownership of it for over a year and a half
that I know of. They will be building a private villa in its place as far as the
info I have on it.
I have also done research for previous pictures- with no luck. Would love
to see more of what it was like in it's "Hey Day"
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Dominique View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dominique Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 2:05am

Thanks for the info and picture, Squally  -- though the photo shows the current condition, it is an interesting and lovely shot.

MM, your restaurant pic stirred some lovely memories for me. 

I wish we had taken our video camera along on the Honeymoon -- but remember how large and cumbersome such equipment was back then! So all I have is my faded memories. 

 

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Brian View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 6:28am

On many drives through Lurin, I have looked for the infamous ruins.  I've never been able to find them.

Can someone do what was done on the Artour thread and post a satellite image identifying the location?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Second Star Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 6:57am

Brian,

I can try, but I can't be as precise as I was with Autour.  Autour I know (knew?) well, and have observed from across the bay for days on end.  Castelets I haven't been to in 17+ years.  I've planted a flag in the center of four possible locations.  I think that Castelets is the complex just above the flag, but perhaps Squally or Mike could confirm.  The first picture is zoomed in a little tight, and shows the immediate neighborhood that I remember.  The second picture is zoomed out a bit more so that you can see the road coming up from the Goose, and the right-hand turn where the road turns and eads up towards Castelets, Form Fitness, France Telecom, and Santa Fe.  The driveway to Les Castelets is a left as you're heading up.

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Brian View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 7:18am
Thank you!  I look forward to walking out there on our next trip.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CEC1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 8:58am

Going up the hill out of Gustavia to Lurin, after a sharp turn to the right, there are two villas on the left, distinctive for a thick adobe wall with circular cut-out openings lined in brick and with bougainvillea poking through the holes.  It is the former estate of Mikhail Baryshnikov (now known, I believe, as Villa Kyody . . . previously Villa Maison Mexicaine).  Just past this estate is a road to the left with a sign pointing to a villa . . . I forget the name -- I recall it has "Bleu" in it.

Take this road, and in a very short distance, a paved driveway will turn up to the right.  If you proceed up the drive, you'll soon be stopped by a chain that blocks further vehicular progress.  At this point, if you're in good enough shape to walk up a very steep roadway (and are inclined to trespass on private property), you'll be rewarded at the top by the eerie remains of Les Castelets and a breathtaking -- nearly 360 -- view.

If you go there, it's important to be extremely careful.  Not only was the property nearly totally destroyed by Hurricane Luis in 1995 (making the structures that remain very unstable) . . . but vandals have ravaged the remains in the intervening years, leaving a lot of dangerous debris -- inclulding broken glass -- in their wake.

To see it today is quite ghostly, especially if one ever was there when it catered to a refined and fairly rare clientele.  As a history of St. Barths recorded:

In the past, outsiders came to St. Barths as a refuge. They valued privacy and detachment, and found differences of culture a welcome barrier to unwanted familiarity. They were interesting people, often eccentric, and preferred simplicity and meagerness to the hazards and resources of the wider world. Two local hotels, Eden Rock and Les Castelets, were designed and built by members of this vanishing breed.  http://www.st-barths.com/history.html

 

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Midwest Mike View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Midwest Mike Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 9:23am

After beaching it at Gouverneur, we stopped to check out Castelets and the view....'93.  We look awful, but the view was awesome.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CEC1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 9:43am

The railing around the pool is no longer there, Mike.  Portions of its decking, moreover, are gone . . . and of dubious strength elsewhere.  For a number of years, there were souvenirs to be salvaged amongst the trash.  I one time claimed a beautiful old chef's jacket, for example, that I spotted sticking out from under a pile of trash.

When last there, however (August 2006), the grounds had been somewhat cleaned-up.  The piles of trash deposited there at times (old scooters and motor cycles, broken refrigerators, etc.) were largely removed . . . but the structural integrity of the building remnants had deteriorated seriously, making it quite dangerous to explore beyond firm footing on the driveway.

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Brian View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 10:43am
Originally posted by CEC1 CEC1 wrote:

. . . distinctive for a thick adobe wall with circular cut-out openings lined in brick and with bougainvillea poking through the holes.


I was so close!  And based on your description, I think Second Star is right -- that Castelets is the complex just above the flag.

Mike, it's amazing to think that I was on the island just three years after your picture, and so much was changed by Luis.
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Brian View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 10:49am
Looking at Google Earth some more, it looks like there is a road/path that goes from Castelets down to St. Jean.  Pretty interesting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Second Star Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2007 at 8:13pm

CEC1 -

Based on your description, I'm now thinking that Les Casteletes is the complex below the flag in my Google Earth picture.  Does the driveway have a zig-zag in it?

Brian -

The apparent path going down into St Jean could be anything from an actual path to a (literal) goat path to a power line or a natural storm runoff channel.  There's not enough detail on Google Earth or Geoportail.fr to tell, and there's nothing marked on my topo map.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dominique Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2007 at 2:08am
CEC1 - great directions on how to find the Castelets property.  The 2 villas  with the distinct adobe walls that you described  -- indeed, once the estate of Baryshnikov.  But this is not Kyody  -- apparently, Baryshnikov first owned another villa, which is the current Kyody  -- and Kyody is one of your neighbors.  Turn onto the steep road across from Marigot Bay (that is beside your villa) and you will eventually see a driveway on the left and sign for Kyody.  You should stop in early one morning and introduce yourself to Paul, the gardener, who is there most mornings between 7 and 9  -- a delightful fellow. 
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CEC1 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CEC1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2007 at 2:53am

Thanks for the correction, Dominique.  I should have double-checked my information with respect to the villa's name.  When there at the end of March / early April, I'll hike up the road and find Villa Kyody and introduce myself to Paul.  I tend to wake early in St. Barths, so it'll be a great (and neighborly) way to start the morning!

By the way, the two villas next to the entrance for Les Castelets, formerly owned by Baryshnikov as a "compound," are no longer owned jointly (as indicated by the change in color of the common wall in front of each of them).  I don't know whether Baryshnikov sold them separately (I think he did) or whether there was an intermediate sale.  It occurred, however, when the market in St. Barths was quite low a few years ago.  I was told that the price, quite amazingly, was only something like $600,000 . . . which would have been a great price for one -- and a "killer" price if it were for both of them.  I think someone in the Rockefeller family bought one of the houses.

With regard to the driveway, Second Star . . . it does zigzag.  My old eyes, however, don't see well enough to decipher the Google image very clearly.

At the point where the paved concrete portion of the drive begins (a short distance in from the main road), it heads straight toward the antennae of the adjacent France Telecom facility, then turns sharply to the left to go up the hill to a plateau (which used to be the parking area).  At this point, there are the very scant remains of the old restaurant and hotel lobby area.  The road continues (a fallen tree has been across it for several years) sharply to the left in a downhill direction toward the old pool, with the corpse of structures that housed formerly very simple and beautiful suites on the right.

I have some photos . . . though not as beautiful as the one posted by Squally.  If I can find them, I'll ask Greg to put them in this thread.

I've never seen a road from the site down toward St. Jean.  Perhaps the road/path that Brian is seeing in the Google image is the road down from Lurin (from about the location of the nearby, old "Le New Feeling," the road becomes very narrow and starts a very steep downward descent to a point where it branches . . . the branch to the left going down to St. Jean, intersecting the main road at The Eden Rock Hotel . . . the branch to the right going down to Saline, intersecting the road there at Le Tamarin).

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bignick36 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 January 2008 at 5:37am
Hi I have been to castelets about a dozen times and it was truly spectacular.  The food was among the best on the island and the prices were right unlike today.  In the 1980s the people werent interested in money as today.  It was the relaxation of the island that counted until the tourist found out about it and made it a money island. 
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