Sugarcane, plantations and windmills

Sugarcane, plantations and windmills

Although the first settlers on the island cultivated tobacco, coffee, cotton and indigo, sugarcane has played a major economic role since the 17th century. This economy survived the abolition of slavery and is still strong nowadays. Sugarcane was crushed in mills initially powered by oxen, then windmills appeared in 1780, ultimately replaced by steam-mills at the end of the 19th century.  Marie-Galante received its nickname from this period: the Island with 100 windmills (l’île aux cent moulins). Unfortunately most of them were destroyed by a hurricane in 1928.

Several remains from this era are still visible: 72 windmills (a few of them restored), sugar plant chimneys, and former plantations (called “habitation”).  Habitation Murat and Habitation Roussel-Trianon are depicted in this post.

Photos taken during two trips in the summers of 2012 and 2014.


Habitation Roussel old stable

A photo of Habitation Roussel with the old stable has inspired local artist Félix Sitounadin who has painted this oil. It also illustrates Félix’ book ” Pondichery-Guadeloupe – Au bout du voyage ” published in 2015 where he tells the story of his family who emigrated from this French enclave in India to the Caribbean island.