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Quirky historical sites complement European flair and Caribbean beauty on this French outpost.Visit Official Website
With croissants and palm trees, all perched near a live volcano, 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 a few interruptions, since 1635, and as an overseas department of France (since 1946), it revels in French history and savoir-faire. A leading destination for European vacationers, it offers gorgeous beaches, great food and a variety of accommodations - small, medium and resort.
Tourism is important, but so are banana farming, cane raising, and the rum business. With two world-class monarchs among its progeny - Napoleon's empress Josephine, and Aimé Dubuc de Rivery, who was kidnapped at sea and made Sultana Validá, mother of Turkey's Sultan Mahmoud II - the island delights in historical oddities. Its many small museums focus on curiosities such as banana farming and ancient island civilizations. (View More)
The outdoorsy - especially hikers and horseback riders - will find plenty of guided adventures among the steep, lush hillsides. Novice boaters are warned off the choppy Atlantic side; windsurfers and board surfers will welcome the challenges.
The capital, Fort-de-France, displays colonial charm along with its yacht-filled harbor and offers lots to see in its narrow galleried streets, including chic shops, the flowered Savane Park and the Bibliothèque Schoelcher, a Romanesque peculiarity built for the Paris Exposition of 1889 and rebuilt here. The towering Saint-Louis Cathedral, built in 1895, has a Roman-style bell tower and massive pipe organs. Several late governors are buried in the chancel. Busy fish and produce markets give local flavor.
Seafood With Panache
Restaurants are among the best in the islands. Local seafood offerings include balaou (ballyhoo, a kind of fish), soudons (clams), cribiches (freshwater crayfish) and langouste (Caribbean lobster). Tropical produce such as breadfruit, cassava and christophine are common local ingredients. Chez Carole at the covered market offers a delicious creole cuisine, La Cave á Vin features southwestern French dishes and Le Foyaal is also a great place to eat while in Fort-de-France.
Pointe du Bout, across the Baie de Fort de France, is the island's main resort area, offering hotels, golf, shopping and casino nightlife.
North along the coast about an hour's drive from Fort-de-France is St. Pierre. Until 1902, it was known as the Paris of the West Indies. Then Mont Pelée erupted and destroyed the city and its 30,000 residents in three minutes. The Museum of Vulcanology there displays chilling lava-coated mementoes such as molten nails and petrified rice that were transformed by the terrific heat.
Along the way from Fort-de-France are picturesque fishing villages like Carbet, where French painter Paul Gauguin briefly lived.
Whichever route you choose to return to the south (where most of the hotels are located), be sure to make a stop at one of Martinique's fine rum distilleries. There are 10 in all, and the island boasts France's official appellation for producing agricultural Rhum (a label like Cognac or Champagne).
Just as wine lovers regularly visit France to savor the best of French wine while traveling along La Route des Vins, rum connoisseurs are increasingly making their way to Martinique to experience some of the world’s finest and most distinctive rums by traveling La Route des Rhums. The self-guided tour directs visitors to 10 distilleries located throughout the island, each welcoming visitors with insightful tours and free tastings that together affirm Martinique’s position as "The Rum Capital of the World."
Entertainment available includes: Discos. Nightclubs. Cabarets. Dinner/dances. Theaters. Casinos at Trois Ilets and at Bateliere Plazza. Cinemas. Live Music.
From major US gateway via San Juan on American Airlines/American Eagle, daily (service ends on March 31st, 2013)
New weekly non-stop flight to Martinique with American Airlines, starting April 6, 2013 out of Miami on Saturdays.
For more information on rates and reservations, please visit American Airlines' web site at www.aa.com.
From Miami, Air France flies jets (737's) daily.
Air Jamaica and BWIA offer daily service from JFK with LIAT connection in Antigua or Barbados.
Air Caraibes flies to and from Guadeloupe, several times a day to and from Barbados, St. Martin, Dominica, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad.
By Boat: Martinique can also be reached from Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Dominica, and Les Saintes by the sleek catamarans of Express des Iles.
Airports: (FDF) Martinique Aimé Césaire Airport. Large modern terminal building.
Airport to: Fort-de-France-10 km. Pointe du Bout-20 km. Sainte Anne-35 km. Sainte Pierre-42 km.
All US citizens traveling by air to and from Bermuda and the Caribbean are required to have a valid passport to enter the United States.
For stays of up to three months, Canadian citizens traveling as tourists must have proof of citizenship in the form of a valid passport or a passport that expired not more than 5 years ago, or other proof of citizenship in the form of a birth certificate (original or official), or a voter's registration card, which must be accompanied by a government-authorized identification with photo, such as a driver's license. For stays over 3 months, or for non-tourist visits, a valid passport is necessary. Resident aliens of the US & Canada must have a valid passport and visa. A return or onward ticket is also required of all visitors. No vaccination papers required unless arriving from an endemic area.
Fort-de-France, the capital city. La Pagerie, birthplace of Martinique's most famous daughter: Josephine, Napoleon's Empress. Diamond Rock. Botanical Gardens where you can admire over a thousand varieties of tropical & local plants. St Pierre & the ruins from eruption of Mt. Pelee, the Pompeii of the New World. Volcanological museum. Castle DuBuc. Mont Pelée.
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.
Ecotourism – 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.
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.
Documents needed for foreigners to wed:
• Birth certificate (or a copy with raised seal)
• Certificate of good conduct (including certification of 'single status')
• Residency card (one of the couple must have resided on the island at least one month)
• Medical certificate (including blood test) issued within three months of marriage
• French translation of English language documents.
A 'Bulletin de Marriage' & 'Livret de Famille' are delivered at the ceremony. No fee is involved.