Nansky and Gina at their guesthouse 'Kay Gina & Nansky'
Photo: Franck Fontain
At the end of a 180-mile journey west along Haiti’s southern peninsula, Jérémie is a busy coastal town with mountains cascading at its back. A city full of history and character, you’ll want to dedicate a couple of days to fully explore.
If you’ve travelled through the north of Haiti before (especially driving from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haïtien through Mirebalais) the drive to Jérémie is reminiscent of watching Lake Péligre peek from between the curves in the road. The Grand’Anse river that gives this part of Haiti its name courses from its birthplace in the Pic Macaya National Park down through mountains to where it meets the sea just south of the town of Jérémie.
The Grand’Anse is the reason Jérémie was founded, and is important as a direct source of irrigation for fields and livestock. The communities that live and work all along the river are diverse, but through the river all are connected into a long, narrow, close-knit neighborhood.
Way out west, Jérémie boasts a self-possessed rural charm, a sort of independence from the rest of the island, and a kind of defiance in the face of time. In Jérémie, centuries-old traditions are still alive today, side-by-side with the modernity of a 21st century Haiti.
Inside the Saint Louis King of France cathedral
Photo: Franck Fontain
Top attractions in Jérémie
Anse d’Azur - A spectacular sandy bay with a sunken German U-boat and a gorgeous cave system, Anse d’Azur is as picturesque as the very best of Caribbean beaches (minus the crowds).
Saint Louis King of France cathedral - The same romanticism in Jérémie’s literature infuses its architecture. If reading the works of Jérémie’s writers has inspired you, or if you’re into architecture or design, you'll want to see the city’s Saint Louis King of France Cathedral (French: Cathédrale Saint-Louis-Roi-de-France de Jérémie). Built on the site of an ancient temple that burned down in 1874, the Cathedral is an imposing deep-red with white detail, pulling together elements of Haitian architecture familiar to travellers who have seen Port-au-Prince’s Gingerbread Houses, Iron Market, or the cathedral of Hinche.
Patron saint festival of Saint Louis - The Cathedral really shines during the month of August, when Jérémie gears up to celebrate the patron saint festival of Saint Louis King of France on the 25th. The city and surrounding parish come alive in prayer, festivities, and good times all around.
Kay Gina & Nansky - Being in Jérémie during the summertime is a great opportunity to visit Kay Gina & Nansky! Art-lovers Gina and Nansky have successfully curated a space that feels like both an altar and an exhibition, featuring artworks created by Haitian artists from Jérémie, Jacmel, Port-au-Prince and other cities right across Haiti. They also offer the opportunity to stay with them at their guest house, for $30 a night; the nice clean rooms are 10 minutes away from an amazing, immersive local experience in town, and breakfast can be tacked onto your stay for a small additional fee. Kay Gina & Nansky is a great place to get a quick bite of traditional carnival foods such as beignets—sweet banana fritters. A must-visit if you’re in town during any patron saint festival or kanival.
Old man in Jérémie
Photo: Mikkel Ulriksen
City of Poets
Jérémie has produced some of Haiti’s most prominent figures of literature, earning it the nickname of "the City of Poets". Poets Émile Roumer and Jean-Fernand Brierre, as well as Alexandre Dumas’ father, all hailed from the City of Poets, and carried Haitian literature far and wide with them wherever they or their works set foot. Jérémie became a literary powerhouse that would later come to surpass the capital and inspire writers across the young Haitian nation. You'll see plenty of monuments to poets and poetry while you're here.
Makay Villa in Jérémie
Photo: Mikkel Ulriksen
Where to sleep
This far southwest, you won't any all-inclusive resorts, but Jérémie is full of AirBnB options. By far, the best of these is Place Charmant; just a few minutes of driving away from downtown Jérémie, it sits atop a hill with an outstanding view overlooking the bay. Here, you can enjoy dipping in the large pool while using the city's most reliable WiFi. Place Charmant's rooms start at $80 per night, breakfast and dinner included.
If you're travelling in a group, Makay Villa is ideal. With a pool overlooking a small bay, and access to a small semi-private beach, it’s a great place to call home during your stay in Jérémie.
Konparèt bakery in Jérémie
Photo: Mikkel Ulriksen
You can't trek the six-hour drive to Jérémie and not try its local specialty: konparèt. A rich, dense, almost pound-cake-like sweet biscuit, konparèt brings together the classic Caribbean flavors of coconut and ripe bananas, as well as warming accents from West Indies spices like cinnamon and vanilla. The delicacy is ubiquitous in the town of Jérémie, but when it makes the long journey back to Port-au-Prince with visitors, it is highly coveted - no bakery anywhere else on Hispaniola can replicate the real thing from Jérémie.
Need to Know
Jérémie is a town on the western edge of Haiti's southern peninsula, famous as a birthplace of poets and for its striking turn-of-the-century cathedral.
Anse d’Azur - this spectacular sandy bay nearby is as picturesque as the very best of Caribbean beaches (minus the crowds).
August is the best time to visit, while Jérémie gears up for the patron saint festival of Saint Louis King of France.
Kay Gina & Nansky is a great place to browse art and get a quick bite of traditional carnival foods.
Makay Villa is the best place to sleep while you're in town.
Konparèt – the essence of the Caribbean, distilled into a cake-like cookie. Win friends and favours by bringing this coveted delicacy back to Port-au-Prince.
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