Travel tales

On the Death in Paradise trail in Guadeloupe

Death in Paradise TV series locations in Guadeloupe

Outside the rain’s lashing down, the wind’s blowing a gale and the temperature is well below freezing. So you turn on the TV to be greeted with sunny skies, sandy beaches, palm trees and colourful streets (plus a dead body, but we’ll skate over that bit). On air during the worst of the British winter, it’s no wonder the BBC TV series Death in Paradise has become so popular and is now into its seventh series. Yep this series about a slightly bumbling British detective solving murders on a Caribbean island might be a bit formulaic and you do have to wonder how many people can possibly be knocked off on one tiny island. But when it’s cold and grey outside, the show is like a dose of virtual sunshine beaming into your living room.

Read more: Guadeloupe: Where France meets the Caribbean

The series is set on the Caribbean island of Saint-Marie, which supposedly lies just off the coast of Guadeloupe. But you’ll have trouble tracking it down on any map. Saint-Marie is just a figment of the writers’ imagination, but those gorgeous locations you see on screen do exist, and in reality most of them are found on Guadeloupe’s Basse-Terre island. Death in Paradise is what first introduced me to Guadeloupe, so I couldn’t resist tracking down some of its filming locations when I visited the island. Would everything be as picture-perfect as it looks on screen or is there any TV trickery? And would we make it out alive?

Deshaies, Death in Paradise location Guadeloupe

Deshaies, the main filming location for the show

Death in Paradise in Deshaies

On the north-west coast of Basse-Terre, Deshaies is the epicentre of all things Death in Paradise in Guadeloupe. It features as Honoré, the capital of Saint-Marie, and is also where the cast and crew are based when they film in Guadeloupe for six months each year (how do I apply for that job?). It’s the pretty town you see in all the aerial shots on the show, with rows of buildings and a red-roofed church set around a semicircular bay full of boats. In real life it’s a fairly sleepy fishing port with a waterfront row of bars and restaurants that’s a favourite stop for yachties – and definitely not a hotbed of crime.

One thing I found when I started looking at the series’ locations is just how many are in and around Deshaies. As well as the main locations it crops up as the harbour where people arrive or leave the island, it’s in a lot of background street scenes, and practically every swanky rental villa in the area has had at least one murder. The location team have done a very clever job in making one small stretch of coast look like a whole island worth of different locations. Which is good news if you want to explore it yourself – the concentration of locations around Deshaies makes it really easy to do your own DIY Death in Paradise tour.

Deshaies, Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe

Deshaies harbour

Honoré police station

Our first stop had to be the show’s most important location – Honoré’s police station. It’s right next to Deshaies church in the centre of town, so it’s really easy to find. In real life the police incident room is Deshaies’ priest’s office, and the church hall next door is used for the cells. It was closed up and deserted when we visited so no chance of having a peek inside, but other than the Honoré police sign being missing, it looked just like it does on screen – right down to the chickens pecking around outside.

Out front there’s a car park which is where they park the police jeeps, and it’s also been used for a street market in a few episodes. One thing you don’t see on screen though is a cemetery – and they’d clearly need a huge one with that murder rate (though a disproportionate number of victims are Brits, so maybe they all get sent home?). There’s actually a big cemetery on a hill on the edge of Deshaies but it’s usually excluded from the filming, though you can sometimes spot it slightly out of focus in the background.

Police station TV location in Death in Paradise from Deshaies Guadeloupe

Honoré police station

Catherine’s bar(s)

Another series regular location is Catherine’s bar (owned by Catherine Bordey – mayor of Saint-Marie and mother of original detective Camille Borday). It’s pretty much compulsory for each episode feature at least one drinking session in the bar, either mid-case when there’s a tricky problem to solve or to celebrate solving the murder (no one ever gets away with it!). We found the beachside terrace used in the show (shown in the top photo above) at the northern end of the bay, outside a restaurant called Le Madras.

Le Madras was closed for the day so we didn’t get our beachside beer or to have a look inside, but I did find a very tasty pina colada at another Deshaies bar with a Death in Paradise connection. In the first series, they used a different, bigger bar as Catherine’s bar. This one’s called Le Kaz and is just south along the waterfront from Le Madras. Apparently filming there used to block the street and hold up traffic so they had to move, but there are few photos on the wall showing scenes from when they used to film in there.

Le Kaz bar in Deshaies, Death in Paradise location Guadeloupe

Outside Le Kaz

The beach hut

If there was one place on Death in Paradise that sold me on visiting Guadeloupe, it has to be the beach where the detective lives in a perfectly rustic beach hut right on the sand. It’s filmed on Anse de la Perle beach, three miles north of Deshaies. In reality there are a few beach bars at one end and a little road along the back of the beach so it’s not quite as remote as it looks, but it’s still every bit as gorgeous.

The actual beach hut gets dismantled between filming because a lot of the sand on the beach gets washed away in winter storms. But you can still see the concrete foundations down one end of the beach. One thing we’ve spotted too after watching the show again is how many times this beach is used for other scenes. There are a couple of islands off-shore  – one fairly big (called Kahouanne – which was used as a private island in an episode from the third series) and one tiny. Once you know they’re there you can spot them in the background in loads of scenes which supposedly take place in different locations!

Anse La Perle beach in Guadeloupe, Caribbean

Beautiful Anse de la Perle beach

The Botanic Gardens

About a mile south of town, Deshaies Botanic Gardens are a colourful riot of tropical plant, flamingos and parrots – and as you probably guessed there’s been a murder there too. Not just any old murder either – this is where the show’s first detective Richard Poole (played by Ben Miller) came to a sticky end with an ice pick. Filming was done in a private villa inside the gardens, with its own swimming pool and amazing views along the coast from the terrace. You can see the villa from the gardens but if you want to get any closer than that you’ll have to hire it out – it sleeps 10 and costs a not-too-eye-watering €2000 for a week.

Deshaies' Botanic Gardens, Death in Paradise location Guadeloupe

Deshaies’ Botanic Gardens

The hotel

From the far end of Anse de la Perle beach, you can see this big white building in the next bay that looks like a pile of sugar cubes. This is the Langley Fort Royal hotel, where most of the cast and crew stay during filming. You don’t need to be staying there to go and have a drink in the bar and a nose around though. In another bit of inspired recycling, the hotel, bar and beach in front have appeared in lots of different episodes – including one where a bride was shot with a speargun and fell from a hotel balcony in series one.

Langley Fort Royal hotel in Guadeloupe

Langley Fort Royal (photo credit to the hotel)

With Death in Paradise being so popular – especially in the UK, but it’s also shown in the US, Canada and Australia – I was surprised how little was made of it out in Guadeloupe. We spotted a couple of other people taking photos of the police station in Deshaies, but most of the visitors are French and have probably never heard of it. So there’s no real tourism around the show – no location tours, no signs or tacky souvenirs – which makes it feel even more like you’re discovering the real Saint-Marie, and living to tell the tale.

Are you a Death in Paradise fan – or have I convinced you to give it a try?

Read more Guadeloupe posts

Pin it

Discovering the real-life Saint-Marie island on a DIY tour of the locations from BBC TV series Death in Paradise around Deshaies in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean. #DeathinParadise #Guadeloupe #Caribbean

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Jaillan Yehia
    February 14, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    The only reason I know of the existence of the TV show is watching people watch it on Gogglebox! But yes the locations are so dreamy that I suppose you could put any old plot in there and people would watch 😉

    • Reply
      February 14, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      Those TV execs definitely know what they’re doing by screening it in the middle of the British winter!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    I haven’t watched the show but your photos of Guadeloupe are stunning!

    • Reply
      February 14, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      Thank you! If you want something easy to watch with lots of beautiful sunny locations then it’s worth checking out.

  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    I cannot tell you how sad I am to learn that Saint-Marie isn’t real lol Great pics and great show!

    • Reply
      February 15, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      Haha, yes it’s a shame isn’t it! The real-life version is pretty lovely though.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2018 at 2:00 am

    I haven’t watched it but my Mum who’s back in the UK does and loves it for the same reasons! Great photos of Guadeloupe though!

    • Reply
      February 15, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      It’s such great winter escapism!

  • Reply
    Sara @ Travel Continuum
    February 15, 2018 at 11:15 am

    I’m fascinated by TV ‘trickery’ so this was fun to read – they should feature a town sign outside Honoré, saying ‘twinned with Midsomer’. :-D! I don’t watch Death in Paradise, but I’m a Doc Martin fan and plan to check out Port Isaac in Cornwall, which masquerades as Portwenn in the show.

    • Reply
      February 15, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      Funnily enough I’ve never seen Doc Martin but went to Port Isaac a few years ago and there were lots of people taking pics of the locations! Must actually check it out sometime now I’ve been there.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Guadeloupe is definitely going on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing this. The pictures that you have included are simply mind-blowing. Especially the one of Deshaies harbor.

    • Reply
      February 15, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks so much – it’s such a stunning place!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    I sooo want to go and see these locations. Then the following winter I can sit back, watch the show and get excited when I recognise places!

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 9:54 am

      That’s just what I was doing last night! We keep spotting places we walked down or wondering where they filmed certain bits!

  • Reply
    New You Spa
    February 23, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Guadeloupe is on the top on my wishlist, I really want to visit this wonderful city with my family and of course want to spend some time on the island.

    • Reply
      February 25, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      Hope you get to make the trip someday soon!

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    February 25, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    It’s great fun to follow the film locations of your favourite series, especially one that brings a bit of much needed winter sunshine to lift the spirits!

    • Reply
      February 25, 2018 at 6:31 pm

      We all need a bit of sunshine at this time of year!

  • Reply
    Trip Monkey
    February 28, 2018 at 1:43 am

    I didn’t know anything about this, but I couldn’t stop reading and looking at those stunning photos ^_^

    • Reply
      February 28, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Thank you! It’s such a beautiful island.

  • Reply
    Nigel Speaight
    March 4, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Excellent write up, my wife and I are addicts of the show !
    Pure escapism in a miserable British winter !
    Off for two weeks in Antigua on Tuesday:)

    • Reply
      March 5, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Thank you – it is isn’t it! And enjoy Antigua, looks like a beautiful place (and good to escape the snow).

    Leave a Reply