Marie-France Blandin-Casalan, mistress of the place and historian of the arts, today presents the dwelling Bouvier to the visitors. The house is a real jewel of the historical and tourist heritage of Guadeloupe.
The Bouvier habitation was created in 1637 by the Europeans second landing by boat in Guadeloupe. The Montain Saint Louis is the first place of implantation of the cane and sucrots in Guadeloupe. The sweet cane will then bloom, accompanied by the creation of a series of houses. Charles Houel confiscated the house and gave it to the settlers. There are two houses, that of Grand Marigot and that of Petit Marigot, which goes from Bouvier to the sea.
The Bouvier dwelling is, with the Bellevue dwelling, the most complete architecturally. Several buildings in the Bouvier habitation still exist, almost intact: the cassava hut (where manioc flour was made), the refinery, the boucan, … The Bouvier house is home to the largest wooden paddle wheel in the Caribbean. . Made of amaranth, it weighs 22 tons dry. The smooth-bodied grinder makes it possible to iron the bagasse several times and to obtain more sugar. The Bouvier habitation also contains the first column to distill in Guadeloupe, or rather “the” columns because there are two.
The gully that brings water to the home was built by Father Labat to bring water into the various sweets-houses of the region (Bellevue, Bouvier, Campry, Clairefontaine, …).
Cassava was the staple food of Native Americans who taught newcomers its culture and preparation. Cassava cassava, a kind of pancake, was used to replace bread and flour. Cassava became the basis of slave food. Once peeled, the tubers were washed and then “crushed” (grated). To extract the toxic hydrocyanic acid which renders cassava unfit for consumption, the grated pulp was pressed for several hours. Once dried, it was sieved and then cooked over low heat on the turntables so that the last remains of acid evaporate. It must be constantly stirred.
In the territory of Baillif, Deshaies or Vieux-Habitants, there are still several cassava huts. It is often a simple shed.
In the life of dwellings, Amerindians and Africans will bring their animist approach to the cosmos: nature gives plants, metals, … and the man must integrate in respecting it. Europeans have a more materialistic conception: God created nature for man. These two approaches are the basis of life. Africa and Europe will create a common culture, the Creole culture, which embraces cooking, clothing, music, language, … The writing of Europeans will enrich the oral transmission inherited from African griots and Amerindians.Like every home, Bouvier has its botanical particularities: washingtonia (palm tree of Mexico), flamboyant blue, bird of paradise (very colorful flower of the banana family), ylang ylang, quenetier, … Several trees have many virtues. This is the case of the Galba, a majestic tree used in the manufacture of farm implements or the manufacture of ox carts, and whose oil extracted from the seeds has exceptional nourishing and anti-oxidant properties for the cells of the skin. Another tree is the cursed fig tree still called “tree of communication”. Many red mahogany trees were planted. This is the most used wood for the frames, the paddle wheel, … When the coffee and cane will no longer be economically profitablel a sawmill will be built that will be driven by the large paddle wheel.
The house is an autonomous unit that produces and markets coffee, sugar, indigo … When the conch shell sounds, the workers get up and go pick the coffee. Everyone must pick 50 kg a day. The cherry coffee is then put in the deceriser, driven by a paddle wheel. The sound of the boom blowing the whip will punctuate the whole day. The coffee is then fermented to rid the grain of the mucilage that surrounds it. The grains are then washed and dried on the terrace of the boucan. It is then the hogging that is done through a mortar, followed by winnowing and bagging. and they are put to dry.
The master’s house is the center of the dwelling. When it is abandoned and dilapidated, it is a sign that the house no longer exists. In the houses of Baillif (Bouvier, Bellevue, Clairfontaine, …), the house is still in place. The house is located in a place that is never chosen at random. The location is chosen according to the strength of the winds and the telluric forces, which depend on the waves related to magnetic and electric fields, underground water currents, metallic networks, geological faults, etc. The master’s house is thus supposed to be in an indestructible place, where it is good and fresh. The house is built so that the sun never enters. We live inside, not on the galleries. In the house, it is never hot or cold. The kitchen is never installed in the house for fear of fire hazards. The talented black who built the house were marine carpenters. This explains that the house is built like a boat upside down. We do not dig a foundation, the house being built on rock. Blacks with talent were those who practiced an important manual trade for houses. They were carpenters, carpenters, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, sugar workers, foremen … They illustrated the fusion of European, African and Amerindian know-how.
Houses are enlarged by fusion on the occasion of weddings. Thus, when P. du Chateau married Mademoiselle Melican, the two dwellings, Deblaine-Duchateau and Duchateau La Coulisse, merge into one.
Finally, the Bouvier habitation is the place of origin of the Kennedy. This explains the visit of Jacqueline KENNEDY-BOUVIER in Guadeloupe shortly after the murder of her husband. BOUVIER Guadeloupe had emigrated to the USA just before the abolition of slavery. During her trip, Jacqueline future ONASIS went to Saint-Claude on the property where the little sister of Alexis LEGER is buried.