Francophiles, we need to talk. If you’re in the midst of planning your umpteenth trip to metropolitan France, you may want to consider the possibility of exploring another French-speaking destination. You might be thinking “well, I’ll never get tired of France.” This is a good point. After living in France and visiting numerous times, I still haven’t gotten enough of it. However, you never know what other gems are out there if you don’t take a chance, right? Case in point: the French-speaking island of Martinique.
Located in the Eastern Caribbean in the Lesser Antilles, Martinique is an overseas region of France (so, officially speaking, you’ll still be traveling to France after all!). A former French colony, Martinique is known for its unique blend of French and Caribbean cultures. The official language of the island is French, however, many Martiniquais speak Martiniquan Creole, a regional dialect based on French, Carib, and African languages, that also includes elements of English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Martinique’s principal tourist attractions include the capital city of Fort-de-France, which is known for its outdoor markets, port area, the architecturally stunning library Schoelcher, and the Cathédrale St. Louis, which dates back to the 17th century. Fort-de-France also has a wide variety of restaurants, ranging from casual cafés to fine dining establishments, some of which feature traditional Martinican dance shows in the evening.
In 1902, the island’s active volcano, Mont Pelée, erupted and devastated the town of Saint-Pierre. Today, Saint-Pierre, located in the northern part of the island, has been rebuilt and includes a fascinating museum dedicated to the fire. There are also plenty of places to eat traditional French-Caribbean cuisine while gazing at the impressive volcano. While you’re in the north, take a rain forest hike or mountain hike.
And then of course, there are the beaches. Some of the most beautiful and popular beaches on the island are located next to the major resort hotels of Pointe du Bout. Off-the-beaten path explorers may prefer the less-populated Diamond Beach or the fishing village of Sainte-Luce.
If you enjoy the nightlife scene, head back to Fort-de-France or the resort areas Pointe du Bout and Les Trois-Ilets. The most popular and authentic nightclub beverage is ‘ti punch, a sweet concoction made with sugar cane syrup, lime and Martiniquan rum.
Bonne exploration et bon voyage!
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