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Martinique Info

Slave Memorial
Anse Cafard Slave Memorial

Palm Beach
Beatiful palm beach on Martinique

Family Beach
A mother with her two small children on a beach in Martinique

Saint Pierre & Mt. Pelee
The city of Saint Pierre with  Mount  Pelee in the back

Montagne Pelée
The active volcano Mount  Pelee

Banana Plantation
Tractor in a Banana Plantation

Old Sugar Factory
Old geer wheel of a machine in a sugar factory

Personal Impressions
Martinique is a very French island with a strong Créole influence. Being an overseas department of France, it is part of the European Union. The Euro is the official currency of Martinique. Europeans can get cash from Automated Teller Machines just like home. Martinique has a highly developed heath system, considered the best in the Caribbean. Martinicans benefit fully from the generous package of welfare programs available to all French citizens, covering health, retirement, widowhood, and large families. The standard of living is much higher than that of the other Caribbean islands. Nevertheless Martinicans strike very often for higher salaries.

The northern part with its waterfalls, rain forest and mountains attracts Nature Lovers. The southern part has numerous white sand beaches with resorts and restaurants. The sand of the southern beaches is predominantly white or golden in contrast to the sand of the northern volcanic beaches which is dark. Martinique is the perfect place for people who like the French culture, beautiful sand beaches and tropical weather. Cruise ship passengers can make most of their day by driving to the parking lot of Mount Pelée and hiking the rocky trail to its summit.



Martinique is one of four islands which are known as the French West Indies. The others islands are St. Martin, Guadeloupe and St. Barts. The official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais). English is not widely spoken, but you should not have problems communicating in restaurants and hotels.

Martinique is the definition of a refined French-Caribbean island, fashionable and elegant, with an abundance of flora. Filled with ruins and monuments, Martinique has been French, with few interruptions, since 1635, and offers gorgeous beaches, great food and a live volcano. Banana farming, cane raising, the rum business and tourism are all important to the island.

Napoleons empress Josephine hailed from Martinique, as did Aime Dubuc de Rivery, who was kidnapped at sea and made Sultana Valid, mother of Turkeys Sultan Mahmoud II. Its many small museums focus on curiosities such as dolls, banana farming and ancient island civilizations. Hikers and horseback riders will find plenty of guided adventures among the steep, lush hillsides. Windsurfers and board surfers will welcome the challenges of the choppy Atlantic side of the island.

The capital, Fort-de-France, offers chic shops, the flowered Park Savanne, the Bibliothque Schoelcher, and the Saint-Louis Cathedral, built in 1895. Restaurants are among the best in the islands. Pointe du Bout is the islands main resort area, offering hotels, golf, shopping and casino nightlife. North along the coast is St. Pierre, which was destroyed, along with its 30,000 residents, in 1902 when Mont Pele erupted. The Museum of Vulcanology there displays chilling lava-coated mementoes. Carbet, a quaint fishing village, was briefly home for French painter Paul Gauguin, and inland is Morne Rouge, site of MacIntosh Plantation, cultivator of Martiniques well-known flower, the anthurium. Be sure to tour one of Martiniques 12 fine rum distilleries. The island boasts Frances official appellation for producing agricultural Rhum (a label like Cognac or Champagne).


Anse Cafard Slave Memorial
The Anse Cafard Memorial in is a monument of 20 white stone statues. It was erected to commemorate the losses imposed on African peoples through the slave trade. It is located in the south of the island on a gently sloping field facing the sea and the trade winds, within view of Diamond Rock. Martinican sculptor Laurent Valére has built a tribute to a horrific shipwreck and a most painful history.

The importation of new slaves to the Caribbean had been stopped in 1815, but the traders simply opted to port their ships at night to avoid getting caught. This dangerous practice often had tragic results. On April 8, 1830, a ship carrying a cargo of Africans was smashed up against the rocks off the coast of Le Diamant. The boat was completely destroyed. More than 40 would-be slaves, who were chained to the cargo hold, drowned. They were buried in a mass grave not far from the coastline where the river meets the sea.

Schoelcher Library
Designed by architect Henri Pick, a contemporary of Gustave Eiffel, the building was originally designed and built as the Canada Pavilion at the 1898 World Expo in Paris before it was shipped to Martinique and reassembled along the west side of La Savane. It was named in honor of slavery abolitionist Victor Schoelcher. be continued...

Montagne Pelée
Martinique is surrounded by imposing mountain peaks, the tallest being the inactive volcano of Mont Pelée.

Really adventurous travelers like to scale the sides of this active volcano, but there are other, safer (and dare we say smarter?) options for enjoying the area.

You could also enjoy a day at Mont Pelée's picturesque base, where previous travelers have enjoying canyoning, hiking and rappelling through the area waterfalls and forests.

Now back to scaling Pelée. Many stress that you should never scale the side of this active volcano alone. The climb is steep and strenuous, and authorized guides will also know what precautions to take in case the volcano erupts. You can visit the Mont Pelée website for more information on the volcano, safety tips, and options and prices for exploring the area.

The volcano is currently in a quiet phase and visitors can hike to the summit and enjoy spectacular views of the Atlantic and the surrounding mountains on clear days. A paved road leads from Morne Rouge for two kilometers to the trailhead. Early hikes are usually rewarded with less cloud cover to obscure the views

The 1,397 metres (4,583 feet) high volcano Mount Pelée, whose name is a French term meaning "Bald", consists of layers of volcanic ash and lavas. Its gently sloping cone is scored with ravines and supports luxuriant forests.

Martinique is one of the relatively few islands where camping not only is permitted but encouraged. It's a popular activity locally in the forests and on the beaches especially between June and September.

The sugarcane plantations brought large numbers of slaves from Africa to the islands. Consequently, the African influence on the culture is evident, as expressed in their customs, art and music; the result of these influences combined with European culture is the Creole culture.

European residents need only carry Identity Cards to enter Martinique. A valid European Driving license is all that is required for car and motorbike hire.

The 415,000 inhabitants are mainly of African descent with a few French, Indian, Lebanese and Syrian people. Roman Catholic is the main religion, make most of their profits from rum, bananas, construction, cement, oil refining, sugar and tourism with the main trading being with Guadeloupe, France, UK, French Guiana and Italy.

Saint-Louis Cathedral
Dates from 1895. Don’t miss the splendid organ.

Balata Botanical Gardens (Le Jardin de Balata)

Visit one Martinique's most famous sights, the Balata Gardens, to see why this is "the Isle of Flowers." This private botanical garden just outside Fort-de-France is home to a staggering number of begonias, bromeliads, bamboo and about 300 different types of palm trees. There's a small admission fee to enter, and according to some recent visitors, it isn't worth it unless you're really into plants. Instead, you might want to take some tropical flowers home with you. You can arrange to have your flowers delivered to the airport, or visit the Balata Gardens' satellite shop in the terminal of the Martinique airport. They'll arrange special packaging to facilitate bringing your flowers on the plane.

The intricate Romanesque Bibliothèque Schoelcher is a highlight. Named for Victor Schoelcher, an activist for the abolition of slavery in the French colonies, the building was dismantled and shipped to Martinique from Paris in 1893.

St. Pierre
With dramatic views of volcanic Mount Pelée, Saint-Pierre is built among the ruins of old Saint-Pierre. The former capital of the island until 1902, when the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pelee completely destroyed the town and killed its 30,000 residents, Saint Pierre is now a popular destination in Martinique, where visitors head to get acquainted with its historic ruins and the Volcanological Museum, displaying the glorious rise and tragic fall of the city after eruption.

Trois Ilets
The island is also blessed with great nightlife and dining scene, so those in search of bars, clubs, casinos and restaurants should definitely head to the tiny marina village of Trois Ilets, where a wealth of interesting places await for exploration. Here visitors will find a number of resorts and hotels, as well aas ice cram shops, clothing boutiques and pizza joints.

Martinique Beaches
Beaches in Martinique come in a variety of shapes and styles and are well-equipped with beach facilities. There are many of them scattered in different parts of the island, with the most popular being Anse des Salines, a great getaway for both local and international travelers; Anse Ceron – one’s of the north’s black sand beaches; and Anse Noir, blessed with a majestic sea bed ideal for snorkeling and diving. Beaches on the east side of the island are less crowded, however the views here are truly spectacular.

Diamond Rock (Le Rocher du Diamant)
Lying 3 kilometers from mainland Martinique, Diamond Rock is the site of an unusual slice of naval history. In 1804 the British dropped sailors on the volcanic island and registered the rock as a ship, the HMS Diamond Rock.

Route de la Trace
Scenic Route de la Trace (highway N3) runs north from Fort-de-France through the lush interior rainforest to Mount Pelée

Musée de la Pagerie
A former sugar estate, the Musée de la Pagerie was the birthplace of Marie Joseph Rose Tascher de la Pagerie who would later become Napoleon's Empress Josephine.

Pointe Du Bout
On a promontory south of Fort-de-France, Pointe du Bout is one of Martinique's main resort areas.

Sprinkled with palm-fringed coves, Sainte-Anne has the distinction of being the island's southernmost village and one of its prettiest.

Les Salines
A short distance south of Sainte-Anne, Les Salines is one of the most popular beaches on Martinique. Named for the nearby salt pond, this one-kilometer stretch of coast at the southern tip of Martinique

Anse Couleuvre (Le Precheur)

The Butterfly Farm (La Ferme des Papillons)
The Butterfly Garden is a conservatory, which provides the opportunity to observe butterflies in their natural milieu, namely lush, pleasant vegetation. The garden is by a riverside and a 30min walk leads to an 18C fortress, which commands a fantastic view. As you tour the garden, you will notice an open-air theatre, where concerts are regularly held in the evenings, because the garden also has a musical vocation.

Marin Yacht Harbour Marina
Located in one of the most beautiful and protected bays in the Caribbean, this is Martinique's largest marina complex with a total of 650 berths, including 15 specific berths for Superyachts up to 200' in length, and 250 amp 3 phase power. As a full service marina, they have security guards and a bi-lingual team of staff on hand to assist visiting yachts in any way they can.

Les Salines
Families can't stay away from Les Salines beach in the village of Ste-Anne for several reasons. One, the clear waters here are calm enough for children to play freely. Two, there are plenty of food vendors walking the sand hawking tasty Martiniquais treats. Three, there are restrooms and accessible showers to rinse your little ones off before making the trip back to the hotel. Four, Les Salines is absolutely breathtaking, with miles of palm trees and glistening sand. If you want to witness all Les Salines has to offer without the little kiddies around, visit the beach during the week.

Diamond Beach
Diamond Beach in the town of Le Diamant is rarely crowded, but always beautiful. Travelers in the know choose this southwestern beach over the touristy sands of Pointe du Bout, and you should too if you prefer more peace and quiet while you sunbathe. This part of the island is rather undeveloped, so you'd probably rather visit than lodge here. Instead, consider planning a trip to Diamond Beach on the same day you stop by the Anse Cafard Slave Memorial. While you're there, be sure to take pictures of Diamond Rock in the distance

There are also a few botanical gardens to walk round, whose flora include some colourful exotic species of plants and around the isolated villages of Grand' Rivière and Tartane, visitors will get an insight into the tradition and culture of Martinique. Any travellers who enjoy water sport activities will find diving is a well-liked pastime, with visitors enjoying adventures to the bottom of the ocean to explore sunken ships. Tourists who just want to fry in the sun though, will find the beaches very clean and beautiful, especially Les Salines beach, with its vast stretch of hot, white sand, clear blue ocean and water fun, such as swimming and snorkelling, to help cool sizzling bodies down.

The easiest and fastest way to travel around Martinique is by hire car, with plenty of availability being found at the airport. Anyone that’s left their driving license at home though can jump on the local bus, called taxi collectives, the fares are cheap and tourist routes go from Fort-de-France and Saint-Pierre. Taxis are another option but will drain the resources at a much faster rate! There are some ferries in Martinique that provide very good regular services and will take passengers from Pointe du Bout to Fort-de-France.
Yacht Harbour Marina 
Yacht Harbour Marina, Martinique

Nude Beach
Nude beach on Martinique

Quiet Sand Beach
Quiet Sand Beach in the south of Martinique

Beautiful Bay
Beautiful Bay and landsape on Martinique

View from Mont Pelée
View from Montagne  Pelee

La Ferme des Papillons
The Butterfly Farm (La Ferme des Papillons), St. Pierre

Bibliothèque Schoelcher
Schoelcher Library  in Fort-de-France, Martinique