Don't Miss Places In Martinique
This Gallic foothold in the Caribbean radiates that distinct French air that is further spiced up by the West Indian presence. It is both evidently felt in their culture and cuisine. The small French dependent isle is overwhelmed by Mount Pelee, which decimated the city of St. Pierre in 1902. Dark sand beaches and tropical forests are found in the north, with yet more wonderful sands to the south. The places to see are the La Pagerie, the known birthplace of Napoleon's Empress Josephine, and Diamond Rock, a 600-foot apex, once enlisted as a British warship. Petroleum products, bananas, and rum are its main export and top revenue earners.
These are the top ten not to be missed places in Martinique.
Jardin de Balata
After a 20-minute taxi ride from the capital and 400 meters above sea level you will find this beautiful botanical garden with tropical plants from around the world. The entrance is not cheap but well worth all the money as long as you are fond of plants, trees, and flowers. The visit to Jardin de Balata takes place along a path that passes through different environments and that also includes a stretch of 100 meters on a walkway that is suspended by 20 meters in height which allows you to see the landscape from above.
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Among the plants you can see colorful lizards and at the entrance, hummingbirds and other types of colorful birds. Arm yourself with good camera and capture these wonderful little creatures with every click at the shutter of your lens.
The beautiful pink china and all the hummingbirds that can be seen up close while they suck "nectar" from the troughs positioned at the outside of the house email Creole make good subjects for photography. A pleasant breeze and the quick passage of clouds typical of inland landscape complete this rewarding journey in Martinique. Inside the huge botanical garden there is an outbound gift shop and refreshment stands.
The entire horticultural garden tour takes about an hour and a half. Whoever reaches Martinique and visits these fantastic gardens gets lost in this little piece of paradise because of its great spectacle of nature and vegetation with an infinite variety of plants to appreciate.
The interesting Schoelcher Library was transported piece by piece from France to the island of Martinique. The building from the outside is striking in its beauty and uniqueness of its architecture to the surrounding countryside. Entrance to the library is open to everyone and it's free. It is certainly worth a visit here to look at the well-preserved old books standing on no less antique racks. Coming here, you feel like finding yourself in another era. It cannot be missed as this imposing building with a superb façade at the entrance to the old town overlooks the nearby park. The welcome gesture of the staff is very encouraging and the first room is often used for exhibitions.
The large numbers of books that surround the library from floor to ceiling make the place carry that air of mystery. The following rooms and the floor are less glitzy but full of information and collections of local life, the subjects taught in the school, for children it is very educational. Standing close to Park Savannah, this building iron (frame) glass (dome) and stained brick facade is truly unique. Its architect Pierre-Henri Picq, who also designed the nearby St Louis Cathedral, brought to Martinique another masterpiece that successfully combined the various architectural styles such as Art Nouveau, Byzantine, and Moorish. At any point of view this is a place worth visiting for those who want to immerse themselves in the country's history and admire a fine example of French architecture.
La Savane (Savannah Park)
The La Savane (Savannah Park) is a nice green space near the waterfront within the capital, Fort de France. The main point of interest is the decapitated and covered in blood Empress Josephine statue, which prompted the restoration of slavery. After a tour of the other interesting points in Fort de France, La Savane Park is a good place to relax, sit on the grass under a tree, and feel the cool wind on your face. There are some stands where you can buy a snack or beverage to drink while watching some attractions in the surrounding area like; the post office, Hotel Josephine, the statue of the Empress Josephine whose head was cut off, the Schoelcher Library, etc.
It is a very beautiful site that is full of history, truth, and revolt. It shows the charm of the capital mixed with scars of a people from slavery. The symbolic beheading of Josephine attests, same with the other statues you can find around here. It is the only park in the city centre that has a playground facilities for children, beautiful view on the old buildings of Liberty Avenue, and other old French prefectures and colonial houses. Fort St. Louis, an old military fortress which has a great view over the harbor of Fort de France can be found at the other end.
The St. Louis Cathedral was built in 1895 by Pierre-Henri Picq as it was built to replace the first one that was created in 1839 which was gutted by fire and destroyed by an earthquake in 1890. This one has steel fabrications and made to withstand fire and cyclones. The interior is beautifully decorated and when on special Christian holidays and day of obligation gets spruced up and becomes a beautiful place of worship. The Holy Masses that are celebrated here are filled with fervor and joy.
Sunday worships are scheduled at 10:30 and widely attended by its devotees. Between weddings, communions and baptisms, it is easy to see beautiful clothes and people. Pay attention to the opening hours. Sunday is considered the best time to visit as it is not always open. St. Louis Cathedral is medium in size but still looks stunning with beautiful stained glass windows depicting the history of Fort-de-France. The cathedral recently went under renovation for over 2 years. The sides have been painted blue-gray but the facade is still beige brown age. There is a beautiful appearance and interesting reflection of the building facade in glass mirrors of the building facing it. This elegant building of modest size differs from its metal structures and glass windows on its interiors. It is close to Park Savannah and another far more ideal example of French architecture, the Schoelcher Library.
La Savane des Esclaves
At the La Savane des Escalves, you will get a good impression as the slaves (and other tribes) have lived not long ago and which plants they fed and use to heal any kind of diseases. The photo exhibition with endemic animals is interesting to watch because of good lighting. The package tour of the ethnic village is lead by a native of Martinique here in the La Savane des Escalves, a small community rebuilt about the time of their ancestors. The tour provides a great deal of information about the former habits and basic living. Everything is in French, but there is also a translation to German and other languages in the accompanying guide book so every guest can follow the lead very well.
It's worth going as all of this learning and information all happens in the midst of an idyllic nature. It is an authentic presentation of a great lesson in history which brings hurt every time you get to know more of the place. Here, you get to realize and discover the immense capacity of human beings for cruelty before, now, and then. The magnificent effort of the guide is laudable as they try to relive and narrate their interesting stories of the past.
Clement House (Habitation Clement)
The Clement House (Habitation Clement) is an old rum distillery with all its dependencies designed in French style including its adjacent furniture house. It is a nice and informative tour (audio guide) that begins with a stroll in the beautiful park, continues through the cellars (sublime smells of old rums) and then to the old distillery where everything is well explained, and you can meet even some of the farm workers. Then you can continue the visit to the Clement House which is also well kept.
Finally, and probably the best part of the tour is the free tasting of rums of all kinds, the sublime XO Cane Blue, the no less sublime and plenty of other rums poured in shot glasses for you to try. In short, it is a good time that must not be missed during a stay in Martinique. It is a simple course where you will go through all the emotions; all your senses are stimulated and the visit of the dwelling itself throws you in the past. A little advice, sample all the finest rums at the end of the visit, especially the old rums, 6 years of age for example, they are one of the best reason to visit this site.
The Anse Trabaud is another beautiful beach in Martinique that can be accessed in two ways; 1) one-hour walk starting from saline (other landscapes are beautiful but beware of the bumpy roads), 2) after crossing a private field (right of passage 2 Euros) on a very chaotic way, but no need to walk. Anse Trabaud is even more beautiful than the Salt Beach which is always full of tourists.
This scenic beach is away from the crowd of salt baths. You can also make a visit to the nearby savannah of fossils. As on postcards, this beach is sublime, no crowds, and every little bit a paradise on its own. There are high waves, but it is good to swim in the turquoise water, where you are almost alone in the ocean. It is a practical choice if you need to avoid large crowds but still want to enjoy the waters.
Plage des Salines (Salt Beach)
Super beautiful beach with sun or shade under the palm trees to choose from. The Plage des Salines is a small beach with pay parking but the pleasure is immeasurable. There is several small restaurants right on the water that is highly recommended to all. The sea is calm and conducive to a relaxing swim. White sand, radiant light, turquoise sea, coconut ice cream for sale, swim at will but prefer the small cove of saline or the miller loop, taking the trace of the course towards Cove Caritan that is deserted, quiet, and authentic. Overall, it is nothing fancy but everything is good and worth every visit.
Diamond Rock (Rocher du Diamant)
This rock out of the water in the middle of the ocean is simply fantastic. You can take photographs of the Diamond Rock from several points of view on the island. This rock is a symbol of bravery for many locals at the island of Martinique; the rock is visible from afar and changes its color depending on the brightness of reflections it gets from the waters.
It is the only place full of history, pretty vague, and has hundreds of small crabs on the beach (see also the Diamond Beach). The beach is beautiful with lots of little nooks and shadow full of sand to make castles and trenches. Do not forget to visit the home of Bagnard and the statue of Anse Caffard Memorial which was built in remembrance of the slave ship that ran aground near the coast of Le Diamant.
Musee de la Pagerie
The Musee de la Pagerie has very few things to see and yet a huge page of the French and European history stems from this place, something beautifully highlighted by the explanation of the guide who knows so much about the birthplace of the Empress Josephine.
The museum is interesting because you can learn so much about Josephine and Napoleon with his life, and the impact this has had on Martinique’s history. You can see a bed, pieces of old crockery, some facsimiles of their letters to each other, the small botanical garden, the small museum with some engravings of Josephine and the ruins of the old sugar mill. The place is beautiful, well maintained and the historical evidence is sufficient.
The one hour tour imprints a lot of passion and genuine interest in the history of slavery. It succeeds in highlighting a few memories that were emotionally charged during that era. The garden is small but very beautiful and you can breathe for a moment the scent of past glories.