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  • The Paradise in “Death in Paradise”: Deshaies

The Paradise in “Death in Paradise”: Deshaies

Visiting Deshaies was a bit surreal for me.

view of Deshaies seen from a hill above, as used in the starting credits of "Death in Paradise"

a view of Deshaies that will be familiar if you’ve watched “Death in Paradise”

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?

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.

If you read my post before this trip about how I chose my destination, you’ll know that it has to do with a BBC television show called “Death in Paradise.” I loved the scenery in that show, 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.

(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.)

fishing boats moored in Deshaies, where "Death in Paradise" is filmed

fishing boats moored in Deshaies

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 carefully excluded from the filming of “Death in Paradise.”

wider view of Deshaies with the cemetery visible

Here you can see the cemetery on the hill to the left of the town.

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

  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.

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.

View of the restaurant used in "Death in Paradise," empty except for some chickens.

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.

It was peaceful.

It was beautiful.

Paradise.

a view down the beach, taking from the restaurant used in the filming of "Death in Paradise"

The view down the beach from where I was sitting.

After my ice cream, I strolled up to the church, 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 before.

a view of the church in Deshaies, visible in many scenes in "Death in Paradise."

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 was used for other than a filming location. I noticed, though, that the building next to it had window panes that had been painted onto wood shutters: the only remnant of the filming I came upon.

view of the fictional police station in "Death in Paradise"

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!

This image is perfect for Pinterest!

This image is perfect for Pinterest!

If you’re interested in reading more about Guadeloupe, here is a list of all my posts from there:

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