MARTINIQUE TRIP: DAY
Leave as early as you can to hike Mount Pelée and take a picnic. The whole journey can last five or six hours of moderate hiking difficulty. Just check that the weather cooperates, since the stunning view from the top of the mountain is often obscured by low-level clouds.
Whether you opt to climb the volcano or not, a visit to nearby St. Pierre will add historic and dramatic depth to your trip. It took two minutes for the eruption of Mount Pelée to destroy the city of St. Pierre on May 8, 1902. Dubbed the “small Paris of the Caribbean,” the economic and cultural capital was home to 30,000 inhabitants and all but one, imprisoned in the underground cellar, perished. Today, the town is rebuilt and offers thanks via its Volcano Museum and Centre de Découvertes des Sciences de la Terre, a fascinating window into the past as well as into the indomitable forces of nature. Don’t miss the old theater, the church ruins and the cell that shielded the sole surviving jailbird from instant death. If you speak French, do board the Cyparis Express, the small train that tours the town. It might appear to be a tourist trap, but the gifted guide, Fernand Pain, will take you back to that fateful day and bring the whole scene alive.
| Club Med Les Boucaniers
Refresh yourself in the ocean and grab lunch at Antonio Beach, where you can sample the freshest grilled fish or perhaps a soupy chatrou made with stewed octopus. If you’d rather spend more time at the beach, drive to the nearby village of Le Carbet and set up camp for a while at chic Le Petibonum where the hip chef in shorts works magic behind the grill and behind the bar.
Back in town, at Le Tamaya, the nautical theme hides a sophisticated menu (seared scallops in vanilla velouté, seared duck magret) and delicious desserts. You can spend a night at the small boutique Hôtel Villa St. Pierre and taste the chef’s cuisine, a wonderful blend of classic French technique and local flair. For ice cream, follow the sweet trail that leads to Ziouka Glaces for the best and most creative ice cream on the island.
Another equally enticing option is to continue south to Hotel Bakoua at La Pointe du Bout for a taste of chic resort life. Boutiques and trendy restaurants line the quays; our favorite, L’Embarcadère, features a brasserie menu, a welcome palate changer at a reasonable tab. If you’re craving some urban air, leave your car at the hotel and take the ferry to Fort-de-France for its colorful market (open until 2 p.m.) — don’t miss the crunchiest accras at Chez Carole, the small eatery at the back.
to Day 3