The Îles du Salut: from hell to paradise

The Îles du Salut: from hell to paradise

Of these three volcanic rocks 14 km from Kourou, only Ile Royale and Ile Saint-Joseph can be visited. The most famous, Ile du Diable, aka Devil's Island, remains virtually inaccessible.

From the Dreyfus Affair to Papillon, the stories of suffering connected to Devil's Island, the world's most notorious penal colony, are legion, reprised in many books and films. From 1854 to 1953 (when the last convicts where repatriated to mainland France), some 70,000 prisoners served their sentences at this former leper colony, in the most humiliating and inhumane conditions. It is finally in 1938 that the powers in place decided to shut the prison down, which actually took effect in 1947.

Totally run-down and located in the trajectory of the Ariane space rockets, the installations became the property of the CNES (National Centre for Space Studies), due to their strategic assets.

The tourist attraction and will to preserve this historical heritage have been reasons for major renovations of the Dreyfus house and various inmate celles on Devil's island. On Royal island, the warden's house has been converted into the Prison Museum.

Comité du Tourisme de la Guyane
(CTG - French Guiana Tourism Comittee)
12 rue Lallouette
97300 Cayenne

+594 (0)5 94 29 65 00