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MartiniqueIt’s common knowledge that the Caribbean is home to some of the most beautiful islands on Earth, and in the lower end of the French Antilles is a particularly rare one rocks both natural magnificence and a rich, fascinating culture like no other.

Once home to the Arawaks, Tainos, and the Caribs. At the dawn of that era of European colonization circa early 17th century, Martinique became part of a territorial tug o’ war between the England and France for whom the island is now an official department of. As a matter of fact, the island’s capital city of St. Pierre was considered the “Paris of the Lesser Antilles” until the eruption of Mont Pelee leveled it in 1902. Since then, centrally located Fort-De-France has thrived as the official capital, with Martinique’s rep as France Deux still intact.

So it’s a volcanic destination filled with black sandy beaches, mountainous terrain (mostly in the north), tropical forests and chic metropolitan hot spots. It’s pretty much what one would expect from a paradise island with a dash of Parisian flavor.

carnevale008 (2) Language & Culture

French is the official tongue of Martinique but a mix of French, Caribbean Patois, Spanish and Portuguese is the basis of Martinican Creole and most is commonly spoken throughout the isle. It’s been said that much like their French counterparts, Martinicans aren’t too crazy for tourists who don’t speak French however they’re more than likely resistant to those who refuse to make the effort.

Martinique is populated mainly by folks of African descent; nearly 10% of Indians of Tamil origin; 5% of ‘Béké’ (descendants of European aristocrats), and a small  community of Chinese and Syro-Lebanese.*

On average, Martinique is considered to have a higher standard of living than many islands of the Caribbean – a direct result of its close ties with France. It’s an island that melds the warmth and soul of West Indian culture with various attributes of Paris, particularly couture. And a note to the foodies: Their cuisine reflects the rich cultural mix of the island too.

Interestingly, Martinique is home to the cultural movement called Negritude – brainchild of poet, politician and author Aimé Césaire. During the late 1920’s Césaire mobilized citizens of the island to recapture and embrace the spirit of Africanism, despite efforts to oppress it by the forces of colonialism. This led to a strengthening of Creole culture by means of the creative arts, literature and more.

MartiniqueThe Main Attractions

When it comes popular destinations, the gorgeous complexity of Martinique offers a myriad of “must do’s”

Yes, the massive Mont Pelee has erupted a few times, yet it remains one of the top destinations for travelers. It’s replete with hiking trails – and yes, it’s dormant. Which brings us to the St. Pierre ruins, where tours run daily for travelers to explore what remains from the 1902 eruption.

Fort-de-France is the capital and port city – the hub of tourism housing some of the island’s hottest shops, restaurants, clubs, hotels and museums.

Natural wonders abound in the isle of Martinique. Brilliant beaches are scattered along the shoreline in towns such as Trois-Ilets & Sainte-Anne, home to one of the most popular beaches: Les Salines. Nature lovers may dig spots like Parc Naturel Regional de la Martinique or the lush canyon known as Gorges de la Falaise. Route de la Trace is considered the most scenic drive through the ruggedly, beautiful tropical mountains of the Martinique’s northwest region – but not recommended for the faint of heart.

Party People: Carnival is the most festive time of year in Martinique and is going down from March 1st – 5th this year. Similar to Carnival celebrations in nearby islands and Brazil, it’s a ‘nationwide’ throw down with music, parades and festivities filling the streets 24 hours a day until Ash Wednesday.

Check this for a clearer glimpse:

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  • dontgothere

    The folks her are not fond of Americans. Its sad that they used to be listed on a lot of itineraries of cruise providers but not anymore. Not my first choice to visit Sorry!

    • Robbie

      @ Dontgothere. The folks her are not fond of Americans

      Stop with your generalization. Just because you had a bad experience does not mean that we are not fond of Americans. There are a lot of people that don’t like Americans indeed the same way that plenty of Americans don’t like foreigners. I lived in the US long enough to know what I am talking about.

  • Justina

    I completely agree. My trip there was not a pleasant experience at all. The people there threw rocks at us while shouting at us to “Go home yankees!” The shop keepers weren’t nice either. Also, as far as islands go I just wasn’t impressed. There was a lot of traffic and noise. Some of the areas were run down. The beach wasn’t all that great. Overall, it kind of felt like I was in the South Bronx surrounded by water.

    • Starla

      Throwing rocks though? Yikes! How long ago was that?

    • Robbie

      I would say that contrary to the comment made by Dontgothere above, Martinique is a wonderful place to visit. Yes it is expensive to travel there but not as much as going to Bora Bora French Polynesia or other places including Sydney Australia or even Europe during the summer. If money is an issue for you than yes, it is not the place for you to go. Pick a cheaper island.

      Contrary to what another commenters said below comparing Martinique to the South Bronx is pushing things too far. As a former New Yorker, I know for a fact that it is a stretch to compare the island to the South Bronx. Let’s keep it real!!!

      I am French and I love my island. I say make up your own mind by visiting Martinique and see for yourself what it has to offer instead of letting people scare you.

    • frenchie972

      “The people there threw rocks at us while shouting at us to ” Go home yankees!!”
      Did they tell you that in English? And how long ago was that because it just seems like an odd thing to do.

  • Wow, I’m pretty sure anyone who was considering to vacation there would be thankful for the warning.

  • Yolanda

    People of Martinique are French citizens and the ambivalent feeling (love-hate) towards Americans is probably similar to what you’d find in mainland France. I’m french but still reluctant to visit the island because of its reputation of being quite pricey.

  • C

    I lived in Guadeloupe, Martinique’s sister island, for a year. I travelled extensiviely in the lesser Antilles and spent much time on Martinique. The people on both islands are ambivalent towards Americans because they don’t have much exposure to them–travelling to these islands from the U.S. is very expensive and the islands are essentially isolated from the rest of the Caribbean because of their relationship to France–all media on these two islands stems from France and Europe, which are a good six hours and two time zones away. Visiting these islands is expensive, but worth it because these islands are very untouched by commercial tourism. Most flights to these islands have connections in Puerto Rico, but you can also fly to the Dutch side of St. Maarten, then easily cross to the French side (the whole island is seven miles long) and fly to these islands via Air Caraibes, Air France and Air Antilles.