I have had the privilege of living in 2 amazing French Islands; Guadeloupe and Reunion Island respectively. These destinations also merge up as great travel destinations!! I compiled a few tips for new islanders as well as those budgeting for holidays.
Of course this is expensive than going to Metropole (France). In all honesty it can be twice or thrice the fare of a return trip to France. However I have learnt if the tickets are booked days or even months ahead of the 2-week holiday periods (that’s if you plan on vacationing during that time) you might find slightly cheaper tickets.
Find dates of typical vacation seasons but may be subject to change…
If you are travelling to Reunion Island, I would suggest using Air Caraïbe – it is economical and allows one to accumulate travel miles- which is a very important aspect for frequent travelers. French Bee has the same prices, downside is it doesn’t offer miles.
A small heads up though- chances are you are likely to land at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) from your country of origin and your flight to Reunion will be departing from Orly airport which is about 50-1hr train ride -22euros- which is obviously more economical than using a taxi -100euros- . Of course there are flights from CDG to Reunion too, but if you are looking into saving some good amount of your cash this is a doable route. Be sure to spread out the connecting flights to allow you enough time to commute between the 2 airports.
When it comes to food I would highly recommend going to the local markets where they have cheap and fresh produce. Unfortunately I did not go to the markets in Guadeloupe but I would recommend Leader Price for your shopping. One can also find grocery stands with equally good prices.
On the other side, I must say I fell in love with Reunion’s markets. One can even get good quality clothes for as low as a euro. The markets in all the cities have a schedule. See the article below for more details;
If you can get a transport card, that would be a great life saver. Not all towns in Guadeloupe have this since it doesn’t have a defined transport system. Reunipass is that card for you in Reunion. This is a one year unlimited bus pass to most buses on the island. There are even trimestrial subscription.
Financial Aid – CAF
I will give a spoiler alert for this one, but a very important tip when looking for accomodation in French territory be it in the islands or in France – the metropole. Among the first questions you will need to ask your potential landlord/lady is if they will help you in applying for CAF.
Your Landlord/lady plays an important role as there is a document that they are required to fill out for you. Depending on how they fill out the form the money might go directly to your account or their account.
What is CAF? This is a financial aid given by the government and how it applies to an assistant is if you are paying rent you are entitled to apply for CAF under the ‘aide de logement’ section. Meaning you will be legible to receive some amount that will ease in paying your rent i.e if I am paying rent 400euros a month, after successful application of Caf on their website, you might receive approximately 150euros a month which is a great boost if you ask me.
If are also an assistant there are many tutorials on how to fill in the CAF forms from the main assistant group on Facebook. Patience is also needed and follow ups from you as the applicant, and example is I did not receive my Caf money immediately after application, however after several follow ups and appointments with the Caf office I received payments from Jan-April all at once in the beginning of May 🙂
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Islands have a generally high cost of living. Good news though, remunerations on the island are higher i.e. while a language assistant working in France will get 780euros a month, an assistant in Guadeloupe would be getting 1,100euros and 1,206euros in Reunion.