Martinique, French Caribbean

Here are some top attractions we recommend:

The Balata Botanical Gardens

The Balata Botanical Gardens are a piece of heaven that features not only more than 3000 species of tropical plants and flowers, but also ponds punctuated with water lilies and lotus blossoms. Raised wooden rope bridges suspended amid the treetops give visitors an aerial view over the lush gardens while enjoying the hummings of the birds. Owned by an passionate horticulturalist, The Balata Botanical Gardens visit is an experience you cannot miss if you are coming to Martinique.

Address : KM10, Route de Balata, Fort-de-France

Official website : www.jardindebalata.fr

Saint-Pierre and the Mount Pelée

Saint-Pierre, with its incredible view of volcanic Mount Pelée, is built among the ruins of old Saint Pierre. In 1902, the Mount Pelée erupted, killing all 30,000 residents with the exception of a prisoner, who was protected by his very thick cell walls. This eruption transformed what was Martinique’s main city and port into ruins. It is possible to visit the ruins of the city (including the survivor’s prison cell), and visit Le Figuier, the Volcano Museum. It displays items salvaged from the old town. Also, as all but one of the boats anchored in the harbor sank during the eruption, the area is very popular among divers.

Habitation Clément

Habitation Clément is a very good experience if you want to know more about Martinique’s history : part of it is a rum distillery, part of it is heritage site and museum. The last part is plantation. It is therefore adapted for groups of all ages. You can learn about the manufacturing of rum, but also about Martinique’s history as the Habitation Clément was once a sugar plantation.

If you are driving, you will want to select a designated driver or take a cab as part of the visit includes rum and liquor tasting. To see everything, you should plan two hours.

Address : Le François, 13 miles east of Fort-de-France

Official website : www.fondation-clement.org

The Anse Cafard Slave Memorial

This memorial commemorates an 1830 catastrophe, when a slave ship failed to properly anchor in Anse Cafard. It killed many of the passengers and sailors but also slaves, who were chained to the cargo hold. Twenty white stone statues stand on the beach in tribute to them. The Anse Cafard Slave Memorial is often described by travelers as simple but beautiful. Also, as the memorial is very close to Diamond Beach, you can stop by on your way or from the beach.

The Schoelcher Library

While walking in Fort-de-France, you can step by the Schoelcher Library and enjoy its unique design. This library is more famous for its history and design than for its books. Indeed, the building was originally designed and built for an 1889 exposition in Paris and was then reassembled in Martinique. The name of the library is a tribute to the slavery abolitionist Victor Schoelcher. Recent travelers say a quick stop by the Schoelcher library is definitely worth it. The library is open Monday afternoons, all day Tuesday trough Friday and on Saturday mornings. There is no admission fee.

Grand Rivière 

Grand-Rivière is a small and charming fishing village in the north of Martinique. After exploring the fish market and enjoying the black sand beach, you might also appreciate the creole restaurants. They serve fresh seafood. From Grand-Rivière, Dominica is visible. It is also possible to do hiking or water sports in Grand-Rivière.

La Savane park (La Savane des Esclaves)

Two hectares have been cleared near the forest in order to rebuild an entire 19th century village, with traditional huts made out of sugarcane leaves. This park is also a rare opportunity to experience an immersion in the life and history of Martinique’s inhabitants. You will discover the techniques used in building the huts, but also the different aspects of the life of the slaves. You can also walk along the lush gardens of the park, sheltering seasonal fruits and vegetables. There are also a large variety of medicinal plants.

La Savane Park is open daily from 9am to noon and from 2pm to 5:30pm. However on Sundays, the center is only open in the morning.

Official website : www.lasavanedesesclaves.fr

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