Travel tales

On the Death in Paradise location trail in Guadeloupe

Where is Death in Paradise filmed? Discover the real-life Saint-Marie island on a DIY tour of Death in Paradise filming locations around Deshaies in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean.

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

Deshaies, Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe

Deshaies church

Where is Death in Paradise filmed?

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

Where are the Death in Paradise locations?

On the north-west coast of Basse-Terre, Deshaies is the epicentre of all things Death in Paradise in Guadeloupe. It features in the show 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?). It’s the pretty town you see in the aerial shots, with a red-roofed church and colourful buildings set around a semicircular bay of boats and surrounded by jungle-covered hills.

In real life, Deshaies is a fairly sleepy fishing port with a waterfront row of bars and restaurants that are a favourite stop for yachties sailing around the Caribbean – and definitely not a hotbed of crime. One thing I found when I started looking at the series’ locations is just how many of them are in and around Deshaies. As well as the main locations, it also 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 in it.

The location team have done a clever job in making a small stretch of coast look like a whole island of different locations. Which is good news if you want to explore it yourself – their concentration around Deshaies makes it easy to do a DIY Death in Paradise location tour. Or if you’re short on time or don’t have a car, there’s a guided tour for groups of four or more.

Deshaies, Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe

Deshaies harbour

Honoré police station

The 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 one with that murder rate (though a disproportionate number of victims are Brits, so maybe they’re all 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 photo at the top of the post) at the northern end of the bay, just outside a restaurant called Le Madras. Le Madras was closed for the day so we didn’t get to have our beachside beer or to take 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, a different, bigger bar was used as Catherine’s bar. This one is called La 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 hanging on the walls which show scenes from the show back when they used to film in there.

Le Kaz bar in Deshaies, Death in Paradise location Guadeloupe

Outside La Kaz

The beach hut

If there was one location in 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. This picture-perfect spot is found at Anse de la Perle beach, three miles north of Deshaies.

In reality there are a few bars at one end of the beach and a little road behind the sand so it’s not quite as remote as it looks on TV, 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 I 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 – a fairly big one (called Kahouanne, which was used as a private island in an episode from the third series) and a tiny one. Once you know they’re there, you can spot them in the background in loads of beach scenes which supposedly take place in different locations around the island!

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 flowers, flamingos and parrots – and as you probably guessed there’s been a murder in there too. And it’s 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 in the first episode of series three.

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 €2000 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 a bit 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 the 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 in Guadeloupe. We spotted a couple of other people taking photos of the police station in Deshaies, but most visitors to Guadeloupe are French and have probably never heard of the show. So there’s no real tourism around it – no big groups, no tour buses, no signs or tacky souvenirs – which makes it feel even more like you’re discovering the real-life Saint-Marie, and living to tell the tale.

Death in Paradise location map

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Where is Death in Paradise filmed? Discover the real-life Saint-Marie island on a DIY tour of Death in Paradise filming locations around Deshaies in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean. #DeathinParadise #Guadeloupe #Caribbean

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53 Comments

  • 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
      Lucy
      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
    Noelle
    February 14, 2018 at 4:44 pm

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

    • Reply
      Lucy
      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
    Jackie
    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
      Lucy
      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
    Rachael
    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
      Lucy
      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
      Lucy
      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
    JeffNourse
    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
      Lucy
      February 15, 2018 at 2:41 pm

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

  • Reply
    Anne
    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
      Lucy
      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
      Lucy
      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
      Lucy
      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
      Lucy
      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
      Lucy
      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).

  • Reply
    Stretch Merringtion
    March 30, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Love the show and have re-watched it many times. I really envy you being there, but we plan to visit it next year.
    Like you, I also want to sign up as an extra in the show – what a tough job, but shame, I suppose someone has to do it.
    thank you for the tour with you.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      April 2, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Thank you! We didn’t time it right to make it as an extra but it would be brilliant – hope you have better luck and have an amazing trip!

  • Reply
    Liz Nutbeen
    April 1, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    It is always interesting to see where TV shows are filmed, especially those filmed in exotic locations. Having worked through the Caribbean in my youth, this show brought back some wonderful memories, so naturally, Big Fan! (Anyone who wishes to catch up, or re-watch Netflix are currently running the first five series). Guadalupe was not one of the islands I visited, but the island doesn’t look as over-run with typical tourist gumph that many of the other islands entertain. Thank you for this little insight, it brings a little bit of realism to the show.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      April 2, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you, the Caribbean is such a beautiful and diverse part of the world (what a place to work!). I watched a few of the old episodes before we went out to remind me of some more locations so having them on Netflix has been very handy!

  • Reply
    Mark and Cindy - sv Cream Puff
    April 5, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    We are on Guadeloupe right now and just toured Deshaies. They have the signs up on the Honore police station as they are getting ready to film again. When we went to the Grande-Anse Beach the crews were erecting the detective’s beach house. It was so fun to see it in person. Watching the show will never be the same. We will be yelling at the TV, “Been there” and “Walked by that”.

    We wanted to thank you for putting up this post as it helped us find our way to the various sites. This was really a great post. Thanks!

    We thought it would be fun to go back to the boat (yes, we live on and travel by boat) and watch a couple of episodes on NetFlix. But believe it or not, it is unavailable here. Yep. You can’t watch Death in Paradise while in paradise.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      April 8, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      How brilliant! I wish we could’ve been there when the filming was going on but it was still great to actually see the locations in real life. Enjoy your travels, must be amazing exploring the Caribbean by boat!

  • Reply
    Mike
    May 18, 2018 at 1:01 am

    Found your blog while looking for info on the locations of Honore, St Marie. It’s very nice, thank you for the wonderful coverage. Your telling of the story is such a pleasure to read and view.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      May 18, 2018 at 8:41 pm

      Thanks so much, so glad it was useful – I really enjoyed my mini Death in Paradise adventure!

  • Reply
    Kisha
    June 24, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    I’m obsessed with British murder mystery shows. Death in Paradise is my favorite with Midsomer Murders being a close second. Planning a vacation on Guadeloupe with my hubby and then a vaca with my mom in one of the Midsomer towns. This post just got me excited about planning our vacations. Question- do you happen to know where they filmed the episode with the death at the plastic surgery clinic/resort? I believe the episode is from season 2 or 3. Thank you for these beautiful pictures :).

    • Reply
      Lucy
      June 25, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Hope you have an amazing time! That episode is called Death in the Clinic (s2 ep3) – I don’t know the location I’m afraid but I’d guess it was one of the luxury resorts on Basse-Terre. I’ll see if I can track it down and let you know.

  • Reply
    Ian
    August 18, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Hi Lucy
    We shall be on a cruise in December which spends a day in Guadeloupe but I am guessing that’s the wrong season for the filming. One of the posts above, from April, seems to suggest that’s when filming takes place.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      August 23, 2018 at 9:50 am

      Hi Ian, yes from what we could gather filming is for six months from March/April so they wouldn’t be filming in December. We were there in January so missed filming too but you can still see a lot of the locations so it’s worth making the trip over to Deshaies if you have the chance.

      • Reply
        Dennis McKeever
        November 30, 2018 at 6:25 am

        So, if I went there in May I should be able to see the beach shack up? Can you get close enough to see them shooting different scenes?

        • Reply
          Lucy
          December 5, 2018 at 11:38 am

          The filming dates do vary but last year they were definitely filming at the end of April/start of May so May should be ok – you can’t get too close on the beach during filming but can get a bit nearer in the street scenes in Deshaies.

  • Reply
    Mr Richard
    September 8, 2018 at 12:17 am

    I’ve found the series on Netflix and have really enjoyed every episode. My dream is to bask in the sun and have a barbeque by the beach. I’ve enjoy the series a lot, and hope season 7 will be available on netfix sometime soon, or I find another way to watch it.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 10, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      It’s pure escapism isn’t it? I would’ve loved to stay in the beach hut but sadly they take it down in the winter but the beach was still beautiful.

  • Reply
    Grandpa Jim
    September 24, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    We sailed our boat to the Caribbean last winter and one of our goals was to check out where D in P was filmed as we had been watching it for several seasons on Netflix. I thought just knowing it was filmed in Guadeloupe would get us there, had no idea how big Guadeloupe really is. As luck would have it, our first port of call after leaving Antigua was Deshaies so we really lucked out.

    Later that season my son & family came to visit and they had purchased season 1 on DVD, so we were anchored in the harbor in Deshaies watching Death In Paradise. Really cool, even my 14 yr old grandson got into it.

    Thanks for the blog, especially the locations of DI’s shack. I figured it was around there from the island offshore, so it’s nice to know more detail.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 25, 2018 at 10:36 pm

      It really is bigger than it looks! We watched a few episodes while we were out there too – really interesting to see all the tricks they use to make one area look like so many different locations.

  • Reply
    Barbara Klunder
    September 29, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    I absolutely LOVE the show “Death in Paradise”. I accidentally discovered it on Netflix, and was immediately hooked. I’ve been marathon-watching it, season by season. The location has me so enthralled that I want to visit . Is it difficult for someone to travel there and not be a part of any “tour”? I’m from Holland, Michigan, USA (and I don’t speak French). Your blog makes it all the more enticing. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      October 1, 2018 at 9:45 pm

      Hi Barbara, no it’s not hard to visit Guadeloupe independently – we hired a car and rented an AirBnB apartment and just drove to some of the locations ourselves. They’re very close together and the islands are easy to get around. It does help to speak some basic French but people in most tourist businesses do speak English too so you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Hope you get to make it out to Saint-Marie yourself someday!

  • Reply
    Mrs Sam
    September 29, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    Like all the previous comments we also love the show and your photos and insight into the location. Do you know if there is reasonably priced accommodation in the area or is it all very ‘high end’? We are looking to book a week away in February and would love to stay there.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      October 1, 2018 at 9:49 pm

      Hi, there are lots of rentals and guesthouses so it’s a lot easier than many other Caribbean islands to find somewhere affordable to stay – I did a post breaking down what we spent on the trip (https://www.ontheluce.com/guadeloupe-caribbean-budget-costs/) with all the details, but our AirBnBs cost around £136/$177 a night for a two-bed place sleeping four.

  • Reply
    Mrs Sam
    October 2, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Thank you Lucy that’s very helpful. I shall continue with my research!

  • Reply
    Walid Jomaa
    October 8, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Great article, we love the show, do you know if there will be more episodes/seasons? we will plan a trip in January or February and I also plan to kiteboard somewhere there, being an island, i am sure enough beaches and wind. Besides we plan to check out the filming locatios of DIP, very nice and relaxing show. thanks for posting this.
    Any idea on weather during January or February?

    • Reply
      Lucy
      October 10, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      Yes season eight is on the way! We were there last January and the weather was great – pretty dry (except for some showers up in the hills on Basse Terre) and around 25C and perfect for swimming in the sea. It’s always fairly humid but not the worse time for it. Have a great trip!

  • Reply
    Kari
    November 30, 2018 at 4:02 am

    This is my favorite show & am I so in love with your post! Thanks for sharing such a detailed account. I can’t wait to visit!
    Kari

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 5, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Thanks so much, glad it was useful – it’s so amazing to see it in real life!

  • Reply
    Roslyn Chatham
    December 5, 2018 at 8:13 am

    I have been waiting for a new series for ages. We have watched reruns & reruns on different channels.They just brought in an Irish detective & stopped. I then saw a series with him on walks around Irland,new he couldn’t be in 2 places at once. Are we ever going to get more ,it is so popular ,when will we get to go back to Paradise to solve a crime.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 5, 2018 at 11:46 am

      They filmed series 8 this spring so it is on the way! It sounds like you haven’t has series 7 yet though as that was the second one with Ardal O’Hanlan, hopefully you’ll get it soon – and he is back on the island for that series so lots of gorgeous scenery again.

  • Reply
    Mark Williams
    December 13, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Had the good fortune to sail from the Canary Islands to Guadeloupe in 1986. Have fond memories of my time there.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 17, 2018 at 11:25 am

      It’s a lovely place – and that sounds like an amazing journey!

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