The French overseas territory of Guadeloupe is composed of a small group of enchanting and fascinating islands in the Caribbean, where French tradition meets Creole culture in surroundings of absolutely stunning natural beauty. The main island, charmingly shaped like a butterfly, is divided into two parts: Basse-Terre, where the Grand Soufrière volcano towers over the Guadeloupe National Park, and Grande-Terre, home to idyllic beaches and the major urban settlement of Pointe-a-Pitre. With a history dating back to the mid 1600's, Pointe-a-Pitre encompasses the cultural blend that characterizes Guadeloupe, with 19th-century architecture, interesting museums, bustling markets and the sounds, colours and flavours of a vibrant Creole society. The downtown area, just to the south of the airport and right next to the cruise port terminal, is home to Place de la Victoire, the main square and heart of urban life, as well as the city's best shopping in the covered spice market and its surrounding commercial streets. To the south lies the district of Le Gosier, which bubbles with life in the many restaurants, cafes and bars that surround the marina. Guadeloupe's smaller islands are all easily accessible from Pointe-a-Pitre by air and sea, and are well worth exploring, boasting mezmerizing beauty both in lush tropical landscapes and picture-perfect beaches.