Martinique is the definition of a refined French-Caribbean island – fashionable and elegant, with an abundance of flora. Filled with ruins and monuments, Martinique has been French, with few interruptions, since 1635, and offers gorgeous beaches, great food and a live volcano. Banana farming, cane raising, the rum business and tourism are all important to the island.
Napoleon’s empress Josephine hailed from Martinique, as did Aimée Dubuc de Rivery, who was kidnapped at sea and made Sultana Validé, mother of Turkey’s Sultan Mahmoud II. Its many small museums focus on curiosities such as dolls, banana farming and ancient island civilizations. Hikers and horseback riders will find plenty of guided adventures among the steep, lush hillsides. Windsurfers and board surfers will welcome the challenges of the choppy Atlantic side of the island.
The capital, Fort-de-France, offers chic shops, the flowered Park Savanne, the Bibliothèque Schoelcher, and the Saint-Louis Cathedral, built in 1895. Restaurants are among the best in the islands. Pointe du Bout is the island’s main resort area, offering hotels, golf, shopping and casino nightlife. North along the coast is St. Pierre, which was destroyed, along with its 30,000 residents, in 1902 when Mont Pelée erupted. The Museum of Vulcanology there displays chilling lava-coated mementoes. Carbet, a quaint fishing village, was briefly home for French painter Paul Gauguin, and inland is Morne Rouge, site of MacIntosh Plantation, cultivator of Martinique’s well-known flower, the anthurium. Be sure to tour one of Martinique’s 12 fine rum distilleries. The island boasts France’s official appellation for producing agricultural Rhum (a label like Cognac or Champagne).
Airport: (FDF) Martinique Aimé Césaire Airport. Large modern terminal building.
Airport to: Fort-de-France-10 km. Pointe du Bout-20 km. Sainte Anne-35 km. Sainte Pierre-42 km..
Gateways/Flying Times: There are no direct flights from the UK, but connections can be made with Air France which fly direct from Paris. British Airways, bmi and Virgin Atlantic fly from the UK to St Lucia with onward connections on Air Cariabes to Lamentin International Airport (FDF). Paris: 7 hours. London to St.Lucia: 8 hours.
The mean temperature averages about 79 degrees F. Average humidity 75%. The rainy season is from the end of August to October. Approximate sunrise-0530. Approximate sunset-1815.
Restaurants available-Local. Fast food. French. Gourmet. International. Chinese. Creole cuisine. Vietnamese. Oriental. Service charge is usually added to the bill, otherwise tipping is at your discretion. Dress code is casual.
French is the official language. Creole is spoken locally. English is spoken in the tourist areas.
Martinique’s two casinos, Casino de la Batelière Plaza located just north of Fort-de-France and Casino des Trois Ilets, offer slots, blackjack, roulette and more. Patrons must be 18; dress is casual. Whether you experience a Creole-inspired dance performance or an upbeat nightclub with techno beats, a visit to Martinique almost always includes a little – or a lot of – partying : Discos. Nightclubs. Cabarets. Dinner/dances. Theaters. Casinos at Trois Ilets and at Bateliere Plazza. Cinemas. Live Music..
Fort-de-France, the capital city. La Pagerie, birthplace of Martinique’s most famous daughter: Josephine, Napoleon’s Empress. Diamond Rock. Botanical Gardens where you can admire over a thousand varieties of tropical and local plants. Cockfights. St Pierre and the ruins from eruption of Mt. Pelee, the Pompeii of the New World. Volcanological museum. Castle DuBuc. Mont Pelee.
Family Attractions – From sightseeing trains to the Butterfly Gardens and Mangofil, Martinique has much to offer families. There’s even a U.S.-style water park called Aqualand featuring water slides, wave pool, and young kids play area complete with its own pirate ship.
Ecotourism – Martinique’s natural wonders, headlined by majestic Mount Pelée, inspire awe and wonder among eco-travel enthusiasts. Two-thirds of the island is designated as protected parkland, affording visitors a wide range of nature-themed vacation adventures – hiking the island’s 27 well-marked trails, kayaking, canyoning, horseback riding, enjoying a 4×4 tour, and more.
Cultural Heritage – Birthplace of the famed poet, Aimé Césaire, Zouk and Napoleon’s bride, Empress Josephine, Martinique boasts a rich cultural heritage kept alive in the island’s 25+ museums and exciting annual festivals.
Rum – The Rum Capital of the World, Martinique is home to 12 brands, each produced utilizing a unique rum agricole method yielding blends comparable to fine cognacs. Martinique rhums are the only rums to carry the exalted Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation formerly reserved for the finest wines. Free tasting is available at all of the island’s distilleries
Documents needed for foreigners to wed:
• Birth certificate (or a copy with raised seal)
• Certificate of good conduct (including certification of ‘single status’)
• Residency card (one of the couple must have resided on the island at least one month)
• Medical certificate (including blood test) issued within three months of marriage
• French translation of English language documents.
A ‘Bulletin de Marriage’ & ‘Livret de Famille’ are delivered at the ceremony. No fee is involved.