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Tour Martinique

Travel Tips


Martinique, C'est Magnifique!
A Taste of France in the French Caribbean Islands


Anse Michel is a lovely beach in Martinique
Anse Michel beach in St-Anne

MARTINIQUE TOUR: DAY 3

Diamant Rock is situated about three kilometers from Pointe Diamant in Martinique
Diamant Rock towers 574 feet high above the bay, about three kilometers from Pointe Diamant

You can head to Le Jardin de Balata, a lush tropical garden north of Fort-de-France where more than 200 different plant species from around the world await, but if you decide to go south, an early start will allow you to take your time and meander through the driest part of the island towards Les Salines, our favorite beach. On the way, admire the 574-foot-high Diamant Rock towering above the scintillating bay and the surfers hovering along the beach, but if you decide to stop and join them, beware, as the waves can be treacherous. If the underwater world tempts you, head to Antilles Sub Diamond Rock (in the Diamant Rock Hotel) where you can join a crew departing for the bottom of the sea. Just want to stop for lunch? How about a brick-oven baked pizza at Le Mille-Pattes or fresh sea urchins at Le Poisson Rouge?

Drive through Sainte-Luce and Le Marin and head to Sainte-Anne, a quiet village whose most famous inhabitant is the gorgeous Club Med Les Boucaniers. The center of the village serves as a prism into the life of the Martiniquais. Drop your bag at Club Med or at the simple La Dunette, and stroll through the squares and along the colorfully painted houses. In Sainte-Anne, families with young children, gays and naturists co-exist in harmony.

The morning market is a treasure trove of local art, tropical fruits, spices and fish, but the main attraction on this side of the island is Les Salines, one of the longest beaches in the Caribbean and known for its elegant white sand and wind-curved coconut trees. Set up and relax, as many vendors will come by to make sure you have everything you need from a fresh coconut to a pink sarong made in Bali. For lunch, brave the wait at Chez Henri and in the meantime, sip the appetizing fresh fruit juices and concoctions at Chez Olivier. At the end of the day, head back into town for an aperitif and dine at Poï et Virginie, a romantic eatery started by a former Club Med village chief.

HISTORY LESSON
The turbulent history of the region is weaved into the fabric of the island. A few key dates: 1502 marks its "discovery" by Christopher Columbus; 1674, Dutch soldiers ingest a number of rum barrels prior to a key battle against the French leading to French hegemony; 1700, sugar cane introduced by Jewish Portuguese settlers becomes the most important crop and necessitates ever more African slaves to work the land. By 1789, Martinique boasts 100,000 inhabitants of whom 84,000 are slaves. The British capture it in 1794 only to lose it again to the French, a few months later, no rum involved. Native daughter Joséphine de Beauharnais marries Napoleon Bonaparte in Paris and becomes empress, 1804. The slaves are freed in 1848 and leave the plantations; suddenly Martinique is in dire need of a new wave of "immigrants." This time, they will come from India. First a French "department" and today officially a "region," Martinique owes much of her modern development to Aimé Césaire, politician, philosopher and poet who represented Martinique at the National Assembly and served as the mayor of Fort-de France, its capital, for more than 50 years.

For more information, contact the Martinique Tourism Authority, www.martinique.org or the Caribbean Tourism Organization, www.caribbeantravel.com.

MORE MARTINIQUE INFORMATION

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* Images: Anse Michel in St-Anne Copyright Luc Olivier; Diamond Rock Copyright Martinique Promotion Bureau / CMT USA

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(Updated: 03/14/11 BH)

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