Martinique, French West Indies
Martinique has two aliases: the old Arawak name is “Madinina” which means”island of flowers”. The other is “tropical France”.
Both these names are absolutely correct. In Martinique you’ll find an abundance of tropical greenery, both in exquisitely maintained flower gardens and in the tropical rainforest.
Martinique is an overseas territory of France, which means it is completely like a French province, with a French atmosphere. The differences are of course the climate and the people. If you like your croissant and cafe au lait in the morning, your three course lunch with one or two glasses of wine, your gourmet dinner in the evening, this is the place to be! And you are enjoying all that in the tropical climate.
The best of two worlds combined in one island!
Apart from some brief spells of Dutch and English occupation, Martinique has been under French government.
The original French settlers are called Béké. To this day they still own a lot of the islands businesses and agricultural land. They called the black people from Africa les étrangers, the foreigners.
When sugarcane growing and processing became a major industry (it still is by the way) people from Africa were brought in to fulfill the labor demand. As a result you will see the beautiful population of Martinique having skin colors ranging from ebony to white and everything in between.
Martinique rum is so special that it even has an appellation controlée of its own, come and try it!
A major event was the eruption of Mount Pelé in 1902. St. Pierre, in that time the main city of Martinique with a deep water harbour, was completely destroyed in a matter of hours. Everybody died except one person: he was in the thick walled prison and got away with burns. The volcano is dormant at the moment and St. Pierre is definitely worth a visit!
From the 4500 ft volcano “Montagne Pelé” in the North of the island Martinique gradually slopes down to gentle rolling hills in the South called “mornes”. The best beaches with tranquil waters are at the Southern part of the island. More exciting beaches for kitesurfers are found at the windward side. Great hiking can be done in the North, the most challenging of which is the climbing of Pelé.
The main city of Martinique is Fort de France, this is an excellent place do do some shopping, enjoy an excellent lunch at a very affordable price and just watch people for a while.
Martinique is a fantastic place to explore by yacht. In recent decades the Southern bays of Le Marin and St. Anne have become a major yachting center, a good starting point for your cruise through the Grenadines.