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Deshaies, Guadeloupe: The Paradise in “Death in Paradise”

Visiting Deshaies in Guadeloupe, the setting for the BBC series “Death in Paradise” was a bit surreal for me.

Have you ever visited a theme park? Disney’s Main Street, for example, or Harry Potter studio, where the designers do their best to create a feeling that you’ve been transported to another place or time: a place or time you already know well?

This is the same view of Deshaies that is used in the opening credits of "Death in Paradise." Seen from a hill above the village, a bay is in the lower left and the buildings cluster around it: mostly white with red roofs. Up the hill from the bay is the church, with its white tower with a red pointed roof. Around and behind the small village is all green growth.
a view of Deshaies, Guadeloupe, that will be familiar if you’ve watched “Death in Paradise”

That’s how I felt in Deshaies, yet it’s not an invented village built to entertain tourists. It’s an actual village that looks just as I imagined it.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission on whatever you spend through the link.

Pinnable image Images: top is the same image of above: the whole village clustered around the bay as seen from a hill. Below is a view of the church from in front, entrance in the center, tower behind and to the left. Text: The Paradise in "Death in Paradise". Deshaies, Guadeloupe (with Rachel's Ruminations logo between the two pictures)

Deshaies, Guadeloupe and “Death in Paradise”

Before I left for Guadeloupe, I wrote about how I chose my destination: because of “Death in Paradise.” I love the scenery in that show, set on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie, and decided that it was as good a way as any to choose which Caribbean island to visit. That’s how I found myself visiting Guadaloupe and, in particular, this place that felt so familiar, even though I’d never been there before: Deshaies, where most of the show’s action takes place.

(Before I go on, a message for any of the cast and crew of “Death in Paradise” who might happen upon this post: I am not some creepy stalker. I have greatly enjoyed every episode of your show, but what I really fell in love with was the setting.)

A row of small open top boats with outboard motors. The nearest one is blue and the others are a range of colors. Each has a small dock. In the background is a stone jetty.
fishing boats moored in Deshaies, Guadeloupe, where “Death in Paradise” is filmed.

Small buildings, some of them brightly painted, are arrayed along a peaceful bay, dotted with fishing boats. A church stands above the village on a rise. Serving as a clear reminder of our mortality, a huge cemetery looms on a hill, visible from pretty much anywhere. The cemetery, by the way, is usually carefully excluded from the filming of “Death in Paradise.”

This is the same view of Deshaies that is used in the opening credits of "Death in Paradise", except with a wider view so that the cemetery on the side of the hill beyond the village is also visible. In this photo, it looks like a small town with small houses encircled by a wall. Seen from a hill above the village, the bay is in the center bottom of the photo and the buildings cluster around it: mostly white with red roofs. Up the hill from the bay is the church, with its white tower with a red pointed roof. Around and behind the small village is all green growth.
Here you can see the cemetery on the hill above the town.

To me, it was very clear why the producers chose Deshaies for the “Death in Paradise” set:

  1. It’s the prettiest village in Guadeloupe, in my opinion.
  2. It allows the cast and crew to spend half their year in the real Deshaies.

Deshaies seemed to me more touristy than any other towns I visited on the western “wing” of Guadeloupe, which is called Basse Terre, though it’s still not very touristy. It’s home to a few more seafood restaurants than a village that size would have, with higher prices. Many of the shops seemed more prosperous than the average. But you’d have to go to the eastern “wing” of the country to find a truly tourism-oriented economy.

You might also enjoy these other articles about places in Guadeloupe:

“Death in Paradise” filming locations

I visited the restaurant featured in the show, which, in real life, is called Restaurant “Le Madras.” The wooden patio with a roof, right on the beach, was just as I “knew” it from the show. It looked just the same, if much less busy.

This picture is taken from near the floor: a worn wooden floor and a number of wooden tables, less worn, each with simple wooden stools pushed up to them. In the background are some low palm trees. Two chickens walk on the wooden floor toward the camera.
The restaurant was almost empty when I was there.

To soak up the atmosphere a bit, I ordered ice cream (passion fruit and guava sorbet, to be specific). The tiny waves lapped at the beach just below me. The chickens picked for food. Hardly anyone was around except for a few customers in the restaurant itself across the tiny street.

It was quiet.

Peaceful.

Beautiful.

Paradise.

A palm tree's leaves lean into the picture on the left. On the right, waves lap on the narrow beach (high tide). In the distance is the curve of the bay and a high, green hill, with a scattering of houses up the side.
The view down the beach from where I was sitting.

You can book your Deshaies accommodations through this booking.com link.

After my ice cream, I strolled up to the Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul, which is shown in the background of the show, but as far as I can remember it hasn’t been used for an interior scene yet.

Seen from the front: stairs up to the entrance, which has a roof held by four columns, two on each side. Above the entrance, a statue niche iwth a statue inside of Mary with the infant Jesus. The tower is behind the church and slightly to the right; it is attached to the back right corner of the church.
the church in Deshaies

Just where I expected to find it, right next to the church, was the building used in “Death in Paradise” as the police station. It was closed up, and there was no indication of what it is used for other than a filming location. I noticed, though, that the building next to it has window panes that have been painted onto wood shutters: the only remnant of the filming I came upon.

The building is small, beige with a red roof, more like a house than an office, with a small porch in front. It sits on a grassy rise with a parking lot in front. To the left the church tower is visible beyond a palm tree. To the right only part of the neighboring house is visible, with painted shutters.
the fictional police station in “Death in Paradise”

It was weird to see that so much about Deshaies matched the image in my head from watching “Death in Paradise.” Because of that, it was easy to think about the show as if it was real. I found myself thinking “If I lived in a town with so many murders, I would seriously consider moving away!”

Cue facepalm!

To read about all the best things to do in Guadeloupe, read my Guide to Guadeloupe!

Getting to Deshaies

Deshaies is in the northwest corner of Basse-Terre, the western “wing” of Guadeloupe.

There is a bus system in Guadeloupe, both line buses and little jitney vans. Unless you have a lot of time, though, I’d suggest either renting a car or taking a taxi to Deshaies. I rented a car for my whole stay. Since Guadeloupe is a French territory, the roads and signage are just like in France, which gave me a feeling of familiarity. From the airport, a taxi will cost around €50 and take 45 minutes to an hour. Make sure the cab has a meter or negotiate a price before you set off. If you want to travel around a lot, a rental car will end up costing less than relying on taxis.

From the airport, take the N1 west to the N2, which will take you right to Deshaies.

Another option, though, would be to take this tour to see several of the filming locations. It includes transportation from your hotel or the airport, as well as lunch.

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Pinnable image Image: the same image of above: the whole village clustered around the bay as seen from a hill. Text: Do you watch "Death in Paradise"? Here's where it's filmed: Deshaies, Guadeloupe! (with Rachel's Ruminations logo)

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