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wojtekd Fort-de-France - A travel report by Wojciech
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Fort-de-France,  Martinique - flag Martinique -  Martinique
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wojtekd's travel reports

France in the Caribbean...

  15 votes
Page: 1 2

Fort-de-France travelogue picture
People say that Martinique is a piece of France set down in the tropics. Islanders eat baguettes and croissants from the corner patisserie and pay for them with euro. But traditional zouk music, rum in the bars will remind you, that Martinicans have their own culture based on Creole traditions. The last expensive flights to this France's overseas departament are offered of course from Paris (at least two flights per day, 450 euro round trip, sometimes promotions for 350 euro). Leaving Lamentin airport building you will enjoy the view of exotic traveller's trees (see picture) and surprised because there is no public bus to the city (it is 14 km distance). Taxi ride cost 20 euro!

Favourite spots:
Fort-de-France travelogue picture
Martinique's capital, Fort-de-France, is a chic, modern city of 150,000 people - the largest metropolis in the French West Indies. But the old quarter is compact and with its narrow streets, wrought-iron balconies and shuttered doors still has a fin-de-siècle flavor. Close to the port you will find headless statue of Martinique-born Josephine Buonaparte. It stands in the Savane, a large park with fountains, tall picturesque palms and souvenir stalls (some souvenirs reminded me Haiti!).
Other places worth visiting include the Palais de Justice and Bibliothèque Schoelcher - colorful structure with a Byzantine dome build in 1889. The biggest church in town - Cathédrale Saint-Louis, dating from 1895 has fine stained-glass windows and a massive organ.

What's really great:
Fort-de-France travelogue picture
The hilly suburb of Balata. Renting a car (it costs 49 euro/day) you can drive uphill of the capital where is the Balata Church, a scaled-down replica of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Paris. The church was locked when I arrived there, but I enjoyed view from the terrace looks out across Fort-de-France to the Pointe du Bout resort area. A further 10-minute drive takes you to the Jardin de Balata, a botanical garden in a rainforest setting laced with paths winding past tropical trees and flowers, including lots of heliconia, anthuriums and bromeliads. Jardin de Balata in my opinion is the best botanical garden in the Caribbean and definitely the highlight of Martinique. Bus no. 25 from rue Andre Aliker will take you also there for just 1,20 euro. The entry fee to the garden is 6,50.

Fort-de-France travelogue picture
Before Fort de France was established as the capital of Martinique other town - Saint Pierre hold this position. It was called Little Paris of the West Indies. Nearby volcano Mt Pelee destroyed it in 1902. Despite this disaster, Martinicans began rebuilding the city soon after the eruption. There are two museums. Musée Vulcanologique displays old pictures and artifacts of the 1902 eruption. It is worth to come here early in the morning and to visit local market. On your way back to Fort-de-France you can stop at Turin where is the little Museum of Paul Gauguin, the great post-impressionist painter who lived here in 1887. There are memorabilia, letters and reproductions of Gauguin's paintings on display. Sorry, no originals...

Fort-de-France travelogue picture
Martinique is expensive for budget traveller. You will pay 30 euro for single room or 45 for double in the last expensive hotels like „Tortuga” or "Un Coin de Paris". If you travel with a family or with a group it pays to take a frequent ferry from Fort-de-France to Pointe du Bout on the opposite side of the bay and to stay there in one of beach hotels close to the marina like "Chez Choukroun" - they charge approx. 50 euro for the room accommodating four persons. Ferries leave Savane pier every hour - it is 15 minutes ride and the charged fare will be 6 euro for the round trip. You will pass Fort St Louis (see picture) - the stronghold is open for the group visits with a guide - entry fee is 4 euro.

Other recommendations:
Fort-de-France travelogue picture
The best beaches on the island are located on the southern coast: Grande Anse de Salines and Cap Chevalier are crowded on weekends but usually empty on weekdays.
On the northern coast of the island you can visit picturesque Caravelle Peninsula covered with a lush jungle. There are romantic ruins of the old castle and plantation buildings of Dubuc family. Entry fee: 2.30 euro.
North of Sainte-Marie at the Saint-James Plantation distillery you will find Musée du Rhum (Rum Museum). There are displays of sugar-making engines, rum stills and cane-crushing gears. There's also a tasting room where you can sample different rums (do not if you drive!).
About 5km north of Sainte-Marie is Fond Saint-Jacques, the site of an old Dominican monastery and sugar plantation dating from 1660...
Welcome to see more pictures from Martinique on my private page:

Published on Monday October 13th, 2003

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Sun, Jan 15 2006 - 03:57 AM rating by frenchfrog

Nice and very informative report, well written.

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 05:39 AM rating by miguelmarchi

this report is well written, but, sorry, Martinique does not interest me. I think all the rest of your destinations of your reports are interesting, but Martinique no much

Tue, Nov 11 2003 - 06:48 AM rating by marianne

A perfect read. Do you happen to know the name of that red flower (last picture in this article) They are quite common in tropical countries. They are very photogenic

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