Martinique is a little bit of French paradise located in the
Caribbean. Nestled in the heart of the Lesser Antilles between
Dominica to the north and St. Lucia, Martinique lies 1,965 miles
from New York and 4,261 miles from Paris. This modest size island is
approximately 425 square miles - (50 miles long and 22 miles across
at its widest point). The island is similar to New York City in size
and has a population of 400,000. The Martinique is actually
considered a Region of France and the currency is the Euro. The
capital city, where most cruise ships dock, is named Fort-de-France.
On Martinique French, Creole and English is spoken.
Martinique has a rich history. The island was first sighted by
Columbus on his initial expedition in 1493, Martinique played host
to its first European "tourists" in 1502 when Columbus landed there
during his fourth voyage. Dubbed Martinique by Columbus, the island
was inhabited by Carib Indians who had driven away the Arawaks who,
like themselves, had come to the island from South America.
Martinique was claimed by France in 1635 and officially annexed in
1674. France and Britain fought over the island until 1815, when it
was restored to France. Slavery was abolished in 1848. In 1946,
Martinique became a Department of France and in 1974 a Region of
France, its current status.
Martinique is the birthplace of
the famed poet, Aime Cesaire, Zouk and Napoleon's bride, Empress
Josephine, Martinique boasts a rich cultural heritage kept alive in
the island's 25 museums.
The island is mountainous and lush
in the north with plains in the center and rocky hills framing
pristine beach coves in the south. The average temperate is 79
degrees F. The temperature only differs about 5 degrees between
summer and winter.
Martinique boasts a whole world of natural
wonders, making it one of the Caribbean's top eco destinations.
Two-thirds of Martinique is designated as protected parkland,
affording visitors a wide range of nature-themed vacation adventures
- hiking the island's 27 well-marked trails, kayaking, horseback
riding, enjoying a 4x4 tour and more.
Martinique offers the
best of Parisian fashion, jewelry, perfumes, etc., and local
treasures. La Galleria Mall is a top shopping spot, while Rue Victor
Hugo is to Martinique as Fifth Avenue is to New York. For your
shopping pleasure, U.S. dollars can be converted to euros at banking
locations throughout the island. Hours of operation vary, though
Fort-de-France banks are generally open 7:30 a.m. to noon and 2:30
to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Bank-operated 24-hour ATM's can also be found
throughout the island.
In order to drive in Martinique, you
must have a valid driver license and be at least 21 years of age.
Driving is done on the right side of the road. If you choose to take
a taxi, Martinique has numerous taxi's with 80% of them being
Known as "The Rum Capital of the
World" Martinique is home to 15 brands, each produced utilizing a
unique rhum agricole method yielding blends comparable to fine
cognacs. Martinique rhums are the only rums to carry the exalted
Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) designation formerly reserved
for the finest wines. Free tasting is available at all of the
For world-renowned cuisine,
Martinique's 365+ restaurants feature the best of French and Creole
cooking. Seafood abounds, prepared Creole-style with spices, or in a
classic French manner with herbs.
Martinique offers Casino
Gaming in the Casino de la Bateliere Plaza located just north of
Fort-de-France and Casino des Trois Ilets, offer slots, blackjack,
roulette and more. Patrons must be 18 years old to gamble and the
dress code is casual.
There is scuba diving. The best-kept
secret in Caribbean diving, Martinique offers abundant marine life,
historic shipwrecks and healthy reefs. The highlight is Diamond
Rock, an offshore island with a deep undersea cavern.
Tennis - Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the 18-hole Golf de
l'Imperatrice Josephine in Trois Ilets, is the island's sole golf
course. Tennis is available at the course and at resorts throughout
Family Attractions - From sightseeing trains to
the Butterfly Gardens and Mangofil, Martinique has much to offer
families. The main attraction is Aqualand, a U.S.-style water park
featuring water slides, wave pool, and young kids play area complete
with its own pirate ship.
Modern day Martinique is truly "a
little bit of France" in the Caribbean. It exudes an alluring and
distinctly French sensibility in the excellence of its cuisine, the
chic sophistication of its fine resorts and hotels, and the
sensuality of its language. Yet Martinique has a cachet all its own;
an endearing West Indian warmth and friendliness in its personality,
a special spice in its music and dance, its local dishes, cultural
heritage, and way of life. It is an island with style and so much
more. A special place, to be sure, with so much to offer -
Martinique c'est magnifique!
Martinique Tourism Organization.