Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

“Fort de France became my favorite city when we visited (though last year Havana replaced it on the podium). Neither Martinique nor Guadeloupe are inundated with cruise ship passengers, and both can offer a range of holiday options with no danger of oppressive crowds. This is chiefly a holiday resort for French speakers. On Guadeloupe I had the feeling that they didn’t want to rent rooms to non-French speakers, but the people on Martinique were much friendlier. Or at least, they were with us. Accommodation is expensive, but I read online that if you book through French websites it’s cheaper. We rented our car through Eurocar, via the hotel, but only for one day. I think it would be better so sort that out in advance, from home. (K. C., 2018)

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Martinique is a beautiful place, with a huge amount of untouched nature. There aren’t a lot of people, or at least there aren’t now. I don’t know what it would be like in high season. Everything is extremely expensive, but I’m really taken by the place.
I don’t know how car hire works, because we’ve been walking everywhere, and yesterday a local who the place we were going drove us there 😊. Buses come very infrequently and don’t go far, but they do exist. The only problem is that it’s hard to get your bearings – we often had to ask locals for help. The city has a lot of atmosphere, and you’ll like it if you don’t mind the sort of city with a lot of abandoned, overgrown old houses and beautiful nature. (stl, 2018)

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“On Martinique you can do everything and more, just like on Guadeloupe, except that the beaches on Martinique may be even better. Also, while you’re there, it might be worth going across to St. Lucia, which has more of an ‘island vibe’ than Martinique. On the other hand, if you’d rather do hiking and excursions, then Guadeloupe is the place for you. (c.d. 2018)”

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“Public transport on this island is very poor. I was eventually forced to rent a car, and by then, I had already explored the island thoroughly.

In addition to the beautiful beaches, the top experience for me was the Jardin de Balata. Although I’ve seen quite a few botanical gardens around the world and had been to plenty here already, it still turned out to be a wonderful experience. The garden consists of several parts with different moods, which can be explored along easy-to-follow walking trails.
 They had a separate section for bamboos, bromeliads, palms, and there was also a rope bridge through the treetops.
Martinique is clearly the most comfortable, most European island in the Caribbean. If you want to enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere with quality accommodation, great roads, drinkable tap water, and well-stocked supermarkets, this is the place for you.” (2016)




Practicals

Transport

It isn't very easy to discover the island without a rental car, at most by organized tours. Long-distance buses are not as reliable as their schedule is unpredictable.
The share taxi-type minibusses are uncomfortable for many tourists.

To get from the airport to your accommodation, you can rely or on a taxi or a rental car. The accommodation can only be reached from the airport by taxi or rental car as there is no public bus service.

On the island, take a taxi is expensive.
Driving a car in Martinique is not complicated. Compared to most Caribbean islands, locals are not driving so wildly, dangerously. On weekday mornings and late afternoons, traffic jams may occur on some road sections.

Renting a car is quite expensive: it starts at 50 USD a day.

Food

The food in Martinique is excellent, a mixture of French cuisine and Creole. This Creole is an even richer version of French cuisine.

Martinique is famous in the Caribbean for having an above-average selection of restaurants. Not counting the bars, there are at least half a thousand restaurants and cafes on the island.

Shopping

“Except for a few locally owned supermarkets and small spice merchants on the island (filling station shops are called lolos), only French supermarket chains are to be found. In addition to eight (!) large hypermarkets, countless supermarkets and French discount stores have opened over the last ten years. The Carrefour near the capital, Fort de France, has the most considerable turnover.

A superficial observer might conclude that locals like two things: shopping and driving. The morning traffic jam back home is small compared to the traffic jam in Fort de France, though there is also a motorway around the capital.

We could not find a single free space in the Carrefour car park on Wednesday morning. Entering the hypermarket, the first impression is that it is the same as any other French store. However, a closer look reveals many differences: our two-liter juice costs more than €1 more than in Europe. In addition to the 30-cent shipping cost, the import tax also exacerbates the situation. Local fruit such as guava, bananas, pineapples, and mangoes lie in big piles but are not cheaper than at home: the French agricultural salary cannot compete with bananas from Africa.

Interestingly, Martinique is the largest consumer of French champagne. The “you only live once” conception of life is also reflected here: they live in dilapidated shacks but drink expensive champagne… One interesting product is the pig’s tail suspended in jelly. It's a bit unusual to European eyes because it's sold at room temperature in a transparent, five-liter bucket. Sea scallops, on the other hand, are brilliant. A kilo of crawfish is €27, which is a fraction of the price in Europe.”

Martinique - Fort-de-France - Cour Perrinon Commercial Center - p.a. photo

Fun

 

Martinique - French or Caribbean sense of humor: the sign says: In case of absence I am not here. If neither you are, than nobody is here

Martinique - Fort-de-France - Rue de la Republique - cafe - p.a. photo

Public safety

Public safety is good by Caribbean standards. Martinique is a much safer Caribbean destination than Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, or even Cuba. Real dangers do not threaten foreign tourists. Thefts and robberies are rare; some local bad guys presume that all foreign visitors are wealthy. Don't wear expensive stuff, and don't leave valuables in the seats of the rented car..

Health

Surprisingly, tap water is drinkable on the island of Martinique.


Background

Destination in brief

Martinique is a Caribbean island, geographically part of the Lesser Antilles, administratively is one of the French overseas departments, strangely enough, part of the European Union. 

Closest other Caribbean islands are Dominica (north) (not the Dominican Republic!), St. Lucia (south).

Size: 1,128 km² (435.5 mi²) - On the island, the longest distance from north to south is 63 km (39 mi), from east to west 11 km (6,8 mi) being the narrowest and 32 km (20 mi) the widest.

Population (in 2020): 375,000

Capital city: Fort-de-France

Religion: 96% Christians (almost all of them Roman Catholic)

Currency: EUR

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 2200 EUR (2600 USD)

The best beaches are in the south of the island. In the north, rainforests and black sandy beaches are typical.

Geography

The 1397 meter (4583 Ft.) volcanic mountain, the Pelée, dominates the island. The landscape is diverse: steep mountains, tropical forests, hills, coastal rock walls, lots of trees, secluded beaches. Among the islands of the Lesser Antilles, perhaps Martinique has the most exciting landscape.

The northern and southern parts of the island have a very different character. The South is hilly; the land is drier; the vegetation is not so rich. Despite all this, the southern part gets more tourists. The north has more mountains. On the west coast, the beaches have volcanic (black) san

Climate

The dry season runs from January to April, and a rainy season from July to December, to varying degrees.  

History

Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1502. The Frech occupation started in 1635. Slavery was abolished in 1848.

In 1902, Martinique was hit by a massive natural disaster. In the northern part of the island, the volcano Mont Pelée erupted. The then capital, Saint-Pierre, with a population of 30,000, was totally destroyed. All inhabitants have died! The volcano's eruption could be expected from apparent signs, but the city's leadership did not evacuate the population due to an impending election. It was a fatal decision. Allegedly, only one shoemaker and a prisoner survived.

Today, a street name in Saint-Pierre: Rue d'Enfer, which means Hell street


In 1946, Martinique became an overseas territory of France, 6,835 kilometers away from Paris. Since then, Martinique is neither a colony nor an independent state.

Martinique - Fort-de-France - the former Palais de Justice and a statue of French abolitionist, Victor Schoelcher - p.a. photo

People

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Martinique - a local woman - o.b. photo

Martinique - couple in glad rags - h.a. photo

Martinique - elder lady - s.v. photo

Martinique - a local rasta - c.i. photo

Tourist etiquette

Learn by all means, “please, thank you, good day, yes, and no” in French. The locals will smile and respond much faster than if you speak in English.

Attractions

Fort-de-France

Martinique - Fort-de-France - city center - p.a. photo

Martinique - Fort-de-France - City Hall - p.a. photo

Martinique - Fort-de-France - p.a. photo

Martinique - Fort-de-France - rue Ernest Deproge - p.a. photo

Martinique - Fort-de-France - St. Louis Cathedral - m.v. photo

Martinique - Fort-de-France - Castle in the bay - s.v. photo

Beaches

Many visitors say that Les Salines is the most beautiful beach in Martinique. Dreamy, long, and postcard quality with palm trees. Disadvantages are: there is not enough parking space, a lot of seaweed, and often it is impossible to paddle in the water because of the big waves.


Martinique - Anse Noir, a black-sand beach - popular with scuba divers & snorkelers - r.e. photo

Mont Pelée

Martinique - Mont Pelée - c.k. photo

Martinique - Mont Pelée - t.t. photo

St-Pierre

Martinique - Saint-Pierre - a.m. photo

Jardin de Balata & Anse Latouche:

Martinique - Jardin de Batata - v.c. photo

Martinique - Jardin de Batata - s.n. photo

Savane des Esclaves

Martinique - La savana des esclaves, a Museum of local slavery history

Habitation Clément

Martinique - Habitation Clément - rum destillery - g.j. photo

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