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Area Codes -- The country and area code for St. Barts is 590/590.

Banks -- The two main banks, both of which have ATMs, are: Banque Française Commerciale, rue du Général-de-Gaulle, Gustavia (tel. 590/27-62-62, or tel. 590/27-65-88 in St-Jean); and the Banque Nationale de Paris, rue du Bord de Mer (tel. 590/27-63-70).

Business Hours -- Keep in mind that most shopkeepers open around 9am or 10am but close midday for an extended dejeuner (lunch) that may last until 2pm or 3pm. Generally, the closing time is 7pm. Banks are open Monday to Friday 8am to noon and 2 to 3:30pm.

Drinking Laws -- The legal drinking age is 18. Wine, beer, and liquor are sold in grocery stores and restaurants 7 days a week during regular hours.

Embassies & Consulates -- U.S. citizens can visit the Consulate General of France in New York, 934 Fifth Ave., New York, NY (tel. 212/606-3600). Canadian citizens can contact Canada's Embassy of France, 42 Promenade St., Sussex, Ottawa, ON (tel. 613/789-1795).

Emergencies -- Dial tel. 17 for police or medical emergencies, tel. 18 for fire emergencies.

Holidays -- Banks, government offices, post offices, and many stores close for national holidays. Note: If a holiday happens on a Thursday, don't expect a business to open until the following Monday. National holidays are as follows: January 1 (New Year's Day), January 3 (All Kings Day), Easter weekend, May 1 (Labor Day), May 8 (Armistice Day), July 14 (Bastille Day) August 24 (St. Barthélemy Saint's Day), November 1 (All Saints Day), November 11 (Armistice Day), and December 25 (Christmas).

Hospitals -- St. Barts is not the greatest place to find yourself in a medical emergency. Except for vacationing doctors escaping their own practices in other parts of the world, it has only seven resident doctors and about a dozen on-call specialists. The island's only hospital, with the only emergency facilities, is the Hôpital de Bruyn, rue Jean-Bart (tel. 590/27-60-35), about .4km ( 1/4 mile) north of Gustavia. Serious medical cases are often flown to St. Maarten, Martinique, Miami, or wherever the person or his/her family specifies.

Internet Access -- Most hotels and resorts offer Wi-Fi. Centre @lizés, rue de la République, Gustavia (tel. 590/298-989) is a full-service Internet cafe that also offers cellphone and laptop rentals.

Language -- French is the official language, but English is widely spoken.

Mail -- The main post office is in Gustavia (rue du Centenaire; tel. 590/27-62-00; closed Sun).

Passports -- U.S. and Canadian citizens need a passport to enter St. Barts. If you're flying in, you'll need to present your return or ongoing ticket. Citizens of the European Union need only an official photo ID, but passports are always recommended.

Pharmacies -- The Pharmacie de Saint-Barth is on quai de la République, Gustavia (tel. 590/27-61-82). Its only competitor is the Pharmacie de l'Aéroport, adjacent to the airport (tel. 590/27-66-61). Both are open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 7:30pm; on Sunday, one or the other remains open for at least part of the day.

Smoking -- While a number of properties offer nonsmoking rooms, there are currently no regulations against smoking

Taxes -- You're assessed a 4€ departure tax if you're heading for another French island. Otherwise, you'll pay 8€. (These taxes are included in your airline ticket.) There is no sales tax and no tax on restaurant meals. Hotels now tack on a 5% tourist tax.

Time -- When standard time is in effect in the United States and Canada (in winter), St. Barts is 1 hour ahead of the U.S. East Coast and 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. When daylight saving time is in effect in the United States, clocks in New York and St. Barts show the same time -- 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.

Tipping -- Hotels usually add a service charge of 10% to 15%; always ask if this is included in the price you're quoted. Restaurants add a 15% service charge. Taxi drivers expect a tip of 10% of the fare.

Toilets -- There are public bathrooms on the Quay in Gustavia (next to the Comité du Tourisme de Saint-Barthélemy tourist office). Hotel lobbies and restaurants are your best options, though technically you should be a guest or customer to use one.

Water -- The water on St. Barts is generally safe to drink.

Weather -- The climate of St. Barts is ideal: dry with an average temperature of 72°F to 86°F (22°C-30°C).


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.