Doesn’t Death in Paradise sound like a great name for a movie or television series? Well, that’s because it is a name of a television series. It is a British and French production that airs on the BBC. Season 1 aired in 2011 and the 8th season has just been commissioned. Cindy and I love these shows and when we can we will stream them on Netflix. The story line is of a British police detective who is transplanted from the bustling city of London to a remote laid-back fictional island of Sainte Marie.
In one of the early episodes, the island of Sainte Marie is described as being a pretty island in the Eastern Caribbean one tenth the size of its northwest neighbor, Guadeloupe. The fictional history of the island claims it to be of French heritage but now a British Overseas Territory.
If your geography is good, you will know there is no island called Sainte Marie lying off the southeast coast of Guadeloupe. There is an island called Marie-Galante. However, this is not where the show is filmed and it is not British. It’s part of French Guadeloupe. I Googled all of this stuff when we first started watching the show. This was at the time when buying Cream Puff for our sailing adventure was just turning into a reality. I thought it would be cool to one day sail to Sainte Marie (my geography wasn’t good – public schools being what they are). I discovered on the Google machine that the show is filmed in the town of Deshaies on Guadeloupe. On the show the town is called Honoré. The port of Deshaies was added to our must see list of places in the Caribbean.
Visiting the real Honoré confirms just how much TV or films change the location for the shoot. It is difficult to hunt out the buildings used in the series. I recently read that the detective’s house on a nearby beach doesn’t actually exist anymore. The beach suffered a lot of erosion in recent years and the house is erected only for shooting which must be done at low tide. Then, the house is disassembled and stored until needed for another season of the program. If one desires they can visit the concrete foundations where the building is set up. We fortunately saw the house being erected as they prepare for another season of filming. I must admit it was pretty cool to know that next time we watch the show and see the beach house we can both yell out, “Been there!”
In the town of Deshaies on the waterfront is a restaurant and bar. Just about every episode of the show features the police team drinking a pint to celebrate solving a case or discussing some key aspect of the crime. In the show, the bar is Catherine’s Bar and is owned by the town’s Mayor and mother of one of the original cast members, the local female detective Camille. The bar in real life is actually a small restaurant called Le Madras. It sports a picture of Detective Camille Borday who is portrayed by Sara Martins, a French actress. If it wasn’t for this picture, there is no other indication this is the location used in the show.
The fictional Honoré Police station is actually next door to the Deshaies church. It is a building that is a part of the town church and is used as offices for the local priest. Since they are getting ready to film a season, the signage is up on the building for the show. Very cool. The place was swarming with British tourists all getting their picture taken next to the police station sign. I say swarming, but this is a small remote town on a small out of the way island. So there were about ten people. That’s swarming in island life. The building was locked up and the shutters closed not allowing anyone to peek inside.
I sort of expected to see some signs or find a tour of the town taking people to the Death in Paradise filming locations. But, there was nothing. Not a single entrepreneurial soul has made a business out of a Death in Paradise tour. This somewhat surprised me as I see businesses having to fight hard for their share of tourists in things like water sports or boat tours. This opportunity seems to have gone unnoticed. If it hadn’t been for the fact we had watched the show and knew where to look, we would’ve never known this was the place where the filming took place, except for the occasional poster regarding an upcoming Death in Paradise episode watching festival.
We enjoyed a fantastic lunch at a restaurant on the water’s edge with our friends. When we walked in I was really happy to see all the tables along the railing were unoccupied. I asked the hostess if we could sit at one of these tables. She told us we could do so at our own risk. The winds have been rather hash these past few days and the bay is choppy. Every once in a while, a large wave came crashing in and spray would wet theses tables. We didn’t care. We’ve been wet before and lived to tell the tale. So we thought, let’s live on the edge – literally. We were also warned that once we sat, we couldn’t move to another table. None of us got the underlying meaning of this until we notice the restaurant was filling up. Reseating people at this point would cause mass chaos. We did get splashed once or twice with just a few drops, but it was worth it because of the fantastic view looking out at the anchored yachts.
If you do not travel a lot, you probably don’t know that not all Netflix offerings are available worldwide. The same is true with Amazon’s Fire Stick and Prime viewing. On a funny side note here, when we were in Grenada during hurricane season a security guard we met sold black market Amazon Fire Sticks coded to work outside allowing the purchaser to view USA content outside of the country. Outside of the USA, the offerings of Netflix and Amazon are considerably smaller. And, the movies offered are not typically A-list movies. I am not even going to attempt to explain why. Let’s just summarize that it has to do with the greed of the entertainment industry and the archaic manner in which they conduct business. Most of the Netflix produced shows are offered making it worthwhile to keep our basic subscription intact. In our early cruising days we learned from some Canadian computer savvy cruisers how in Canada they used a VPN as a browser extension to trick Netflix into thinking the computer is in the USA. Apparently, this is fairly common in Canada. Thus, they get to see the larger offering of Netflix. We jumped on this and used Hola (hola.org). This is a peer-to-peer network designed to open up region-blocked sites. After a recently forced upgrade to Windows 10 after my computer crashed and died, I never got around to installing Hola again.
We thought it would be fun to get back to the boat and watch a couple of episodes of Death in Paradise. We could both scream at the TV, “Been there” and “Walked by that” when we recognized a familiar place. We have watched the 4 seasons of Death in Paradise shows on Netflix. So here comes the most ironic bombastic idiotic moronic thing I have encountered in quite some time: The show, Death in Paradise, is not available in paradise. We are out of the authorized viewing area allowed by the show copyrights. Yep, you read this correctly. The people on Guadeloupe can’t watch the TV show that is filmed here. And yes, you also read correctly the show is co-produce by the BBC and French Télévisions. And yes, we are on a French island. Go figure! Perhaps because you can’t get the show here, nobody has seen it. Hence, no tours.
So, I am stopping my ramblings at this point and am hitting the publish button. After receiving a confirmation this post is cued on our blog, I am going to download a VPN, again. By the way, I read a couple of years ago that Netflix was under pressure from the movie industry to enhance and upgrade their servers to identify and stop people like us logging on with a VPN disguising the fact we are outside of the authorized viewing area. I think Netflix might drag their feet on this since most of Canada is likely to cancel their subscriptions.