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Holidays in Martinique

Understanding Martinique

Martinique is an overseas department of France and retains both French and Caribbean culture The island cuisine is a superb blend of French and Creole cooking that is worth trying The north part of island lures hikers who seek to climb the mountains and explore the rain forests while the southern portions offer shopping and beaches for those who chose to just relax


Tropical and humid with an average temperature of 75°F to 85°F The climate is moderated by trade winds The rainy season is from June to October and the island is vulnerable to devastating cyclones hurricanes every eight years on average


There are two climatic and three tourist seasons on Martinique The high season is between December and the end of April, with soaring prices and great crowds of travellers From May to the end of November, Europeans tend to go elsewhere, as the weather is fine back home and travel possibilities are numerous Summer months July and August are a sort of intermediate season, as Martinique and Guadeloupe residents often take advantage of the good weather to visit the mainland Prices and tourist services, as well as airplane tickets tend to be rather pricy, or even extremely expensive at this period, so be sure to book in advance to avoid paying double

All in all, if you wish to avoid tourist masses but still take advantage of a pleasant temperature, we would advise you to visit the island in May and June, as the climate in this period of the year is rather dry with an acceptable level of humidity, and tariffs are still quite on the low side July and August are hot and humid months, but don’t be discouraged by tourist clichés saying that the so-called “cyclone” period is a horrible one: it does rain rather often, but the weather is still rather pleasant especially if you are planning to sightsee Don’t count on taking a cruise ship in September, though, as you have considerably higher chances of meeting up with a hurricane or a tropical thunderstorm in this season


Mountainous with indented coastline and a dormant volcano as well as related volcanic activity

Highest point 
Montagne Pelee 1,397 m


Martinique was discovered on 15th January 1502 by Christopher Columbus When he landed on the island, he found Martinique to be hostile and heavily infested with snakes and therefore only stayed three days He baptised the island with the name given to the indigenous people, Matino the island of women or Madinina the island of flowers

The indigenous occupants were part of two different tribes The Arawaks were described as gentle timorous Indians and the Caribbeans as ferocious cannibal warriors The Arawaks came from Central America in the beginning of the Christian era and the Caribbeans came from the Venezuela coast around the 11th century When Columbus arrived, the Caribbeans had massacred many of their adversaries, sparing the women, who they kept for their personal or domestic use

After the discovery by Christopher Columbus, Martinique remained unexplored until 1632, when an expedition led by Pierre Belain d'Estambuc landed on the island at the same time that Lienard de l'Olive and du Plessis took possession of Guadeloupe The French settled in the north west of the island at the mouth of Roxelane and built fortifications, which later became known as Saint-Pierre D'Estambucs nephew, du Parquet, acquired Martinique and became its first governor He made agreement with the Caribbeans and their chief and set about developing the island Rapidly however, the Caribbeans' territory was threatened and revolt burst out The courageous Caribbeans were no match for the power of the muskets and they were apparently pushed back to the cliffs and threw themselves in the sea

Some 240 years later, some say as a resulting curse, Montagne Pelée erupted causing the total devastation of Saint-Pierre Everybody who lived in the city lost their lives, with the exception of one person held in the city's jail

Like the other West Indian islands, Martinique experienced a large economic boom due to its tobacco, indigo, cotton production and sugar cane The lack of labour instigated the black slave trade from Africa between 1686 and 1720 Martinique's wealth resulted in rivalry between the other European nations who shared the West Indies In 1674 the Dutch landed on Martinique, defended by just a handful of soldiers They attacked a storage shelter and discovered barrels of rum Completely drunk the Dutch were thrown into the sea by defenders of Fort Royal, which later became Fort-de-France after the revolution

The revolution in 1789 never arrived in Martinique During the revolution they decided to hand over sovereignty to the British to avoid being attacked by the revolutionists who had already attacked Guadeloupe The British also occupied the island in 1804 and then withdrew in 1814

During this time a beautiful Creole girl from Martinique, Marie Josèphe Rose married Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796 and became Empress Josephine in 1804 Slavery, which was abolished after the revolution, was re-introduced by Napoleon in 1802, apparently under recommendation of Joséphine

The British abolished slavery in 1833 This measure encouraged the creation of pro-abolition movements in France where slavery was finally abolished in 1848 Source: Discover Martinique 2

Talking in Martinique

French and Creole patois are spoken on the islands; English is known by some inhabitants

Buying stuff in Martinique

Martinique is a dependent territory of France and uses the euro as currency US dollars are not accepted in shops, but some stores and many restaurants and hotels take credit cards The best exchange rates can be had at banks Not all banks will do foreign exchanges and may direct you to Fort De France to do such transactions

Reportedly, the best offerings include French luxury imports eg, perfumes, fashions, wines and items made on the island, eg, spices and rum Some merchants offer 20 percent tax refunds for purchases made by credit card or travelers' checks

Shopping opportunities include:

  • Galleria, in Lamentin near airport, is the island's largest mall, with several European branded stores and others
  • Fort-de-France's Spice Market offers stalls full of local/unique flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables, and herbs and spices
  • Rue Victor HugoFort-de-France's main shopping streeta strip of sometimes tiny, Paris-like boutiques, island shops and vendors of fresh fruit and flowers

As a decidedly Catholic island, very few stores are open on Sundays or holidays celebrated in France

Food and eating in Martinique

Martinique is unique in contrast to the majority of the other Caribbean islands in that it has a wide variety of dining options The Ti Gourmet Martinique 2000 lists 456 cafés and/or restaurants on the island – not including the various bars some of which serve food as well as alcohol The 1998 brochure produced and published by the ARDTM counts up to 500 food-service related establishments this corresponds to over 3,000 jobs Restaurants in Martinique range from the exclusive high-end gourmet restaurants to the crêpes, accras, boudin, fruit juices, and coconut milk one can purchase from food merchants on the beach or at snack stands/restaurants in town

The abundance of both Créole and French restaurants reflects the predominance not only of French tourists in Martinique but also of the island’s status as a French DOM There has been a growing interest in the traditional dishes of the island, and therefore, a more recent profusion of the number of Créole restaurants Many of the restaurants tailor their menus to cater to both Créole and French tastes

In the 2000 edition of Délices de la Martinique Delights of Martinique, the guide put together by the island’s restaurant union, the editorial given by the then Prefect and director of tourism, Philippe Boisadam, describes the contribution that ‘Martinique’s cuisine makes to the culinary arts’ Olivier Besnard, the commercial director of the long-haul airline division of Air Liberté, wrote the preface to this same edition He states that this Créole restaurant and recipe guide is ‘a tourist souvenir that you are welcome to take home with you’ Francis Delage, a culinary consultant who assembled most of the recipes for this guide underlines the fact that the island’s restaurateurs are the gastronomic ambassadors of Martinique and that they in particular represent the ‘quality of the welcome,’ ‘the products’ and ‘the savoir-faire of Créole cuisine, which is truly part of France’s culinary heritage’

The changes in tourist composition behavior, interest may very well account for the evolution in the culinary offerings in many of today’s restaurants Restaurants in Martinique offer not only French and other International cuisines , but also the possibility of consuming the foods that the Other eats In this case, the Other refers to the Martiniquans Visitors can catch a glimpse of the behind the scenes reality regarding Martiniquan culinary practices through an ‘authentic’ Créole cuisine An investigation of the new tourist, or “post-tourist” phenomenon Poon 1999 venturing off the ‘eaten trail’ in search of something that is more authentic

Restaurants, Créole cookbooks, public fairs and festivities, and the expensive dining rooms of foreign-owned luxury hotels where food is served, all present themselves as crucial staging grounds where ideas about Martiniquan cuisine, and therefore, identity, authenticity and place are continuously tested

December 2008/2009 a website was launched Club Gastronomie & Prestige 15 Look under the tab Partenaires to find the top restaurants in Martinique

Drinking in Martinique

As in France, water is safe to drink from the tap, and restaurants will happily serve this at no extra charge l'eau du robinet

Fresh fruit juices are also very popular on the island along with jus de canne which is a delicious sugar cane drink which is often sold in vans in lay-bys off the main roads This juice does not stay fresh for long, so ask for it to be made fresh while you wait and drink it as quickly as possible with some ice cubes and a squeeze of lime

Martinique is famous for its world class rums and the island today still hosts a large number of distilleries inviting tourist to explore its history Production methods emphasize use of fresh juice from sugar cane to produce "rhum agricole", rather than molasses widely used elsewhere

Although rum is far more popular, the local beer in Martinique is Bière Lorraine

Source: Discover Martinique 16

  • Karaoke-Café, quartier Basse Gondeau 97232 Le Lamentin, 0596 50 07 71, bar/restaurant/nightclub, currently the trendiest place but not the most typical Live music, Karaoke, 80s, dance, techno, worldmusic Entrance €20 with a drink

Accommodation in Martinique

Camping is available in both mountain and beach settings Setting up just anywhere is not permitted For details call Office National des Forets, Fort-de-France, 33 596 71 34 50 A small fee is charged

In addition there are hotels, bed and breakfasts French: gites, villas and even private islands, Ilet Oscar and Ilet Thierry, for rent

  • Le Paradis de l'Anse Paradise Cove Resort Anse Figuier 97211 Riviere Pilote 403 561-8223 in Canada http://wwwaquamarineparadisecovecom Starting at CAD$ 6500 per night Charming 18-unit resort with swimming pool, restaurant and air-conditioned units with ocean view Detached cabins available Family-owned and friendly Also offers all-inclusive vacations, with car rental and tour guide services to desert beaches and other activities
  • PV-Holidays Saint Luce Holiday Village 17 This holiday village in Martinique offers self catering, air-conditioned accommodation ranging from 2-person Studios up to 2-bedroom apartments for 6 persons The holiday village enjoys a picturesque location on the south coast of the French Caribbean island, surrounded by tropical gardens with direct access to a beautiful white sandy beach

And Hold Tite Rudeey + Melbow + Katy-lou

Working in Martinique

For European people coming from an EU country, working in Martinique isn't a problem If you're from outside the EU, you will probably need a work permit - check with the French Embassy in your country Do not forget though that the unemployment rate is high But if you work in the health sector doctor, nurse, it will be much easier

Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil à l'Aide Technique VCAT Only for EU/EEA-citizens You must be over 18 and under 28 years old inclusive You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences

Cities in Martinique

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