Welcome to Fort-De-France Martinique!
When people travel to the Caribbean, Martinique is not typically one of the more popular destinations. This makes it the worldwide local’s prime choice for a true Caribbean experience. Fort-De-France is Martinique’s capital, and it is an interesting place that combines Caribbean Island and French cultures. It showcases old colonial buildings with the lush, bright vibrancy of flora from the islands.
A Bit of History
Before you leave your Fort-De-France hotel and begin exploring, you should know a bit about the city’s history. Christopher Columbus landed here in 1502, but only stayed three days because he found the environment too hostile. Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, Josephine, was from here when the island became a French colony. It was her suggestion that slavery be reinstated, and today her beheaded statue can still be found there. Bear in mind, this took place many years ago. Now, the people of Fort-De-France are always friendly and fun, and if you visit this beautiful island, you’ll know why.
Worldwide Local Tip: The entire country of Martinique is a French dominion, and therefore the currency of the island is the Euro. U.S. dollars and Eastern Carribean dollars are typically not accepted in shops, but most places will accept credit cards if you don’t have Euros on you. However, it is best to find a bank and exchange your money.
France in the Caribbean
The island is home to a lot of cool history, and you should know as Martinique’s French past still ties very much to its cultural present. Fort St. Louis was established in 1635 as a means of protecting the French settlers of the island. It defended the island against the Dutch in 1674, then against the English in 1759, and again in 1809. The fort is still operated as a French naval base, but it does have a museum that guests can visit and get an amazing view of Fort-De-France from the top of the ramparts. Learn about the history of the fort and the history of the island from here.
Worldwide Local Tip: For a different perspective of early French colonial life in Fort-De-France, check out the Bibliotheque Schoelcher. The library is an interesting composition of different styles that mix Byzantine, European, Egyptian, and art nouveau into a cool building. Everything was built in Paris and shipped to Martinique, where the books inside belonged to a Victor Schoelcher - an abolitionist who donated his 10,000 book collection to help educate former slaves.
Shopping in Fort-De-France
As a worldwide local you’ll want to head to where the locals go, and la Rue Victor Hugo is just that place. Named after the famed French author, Victor Hugo street is filled with all the local shopping spots. The street is an eclectic mix of things you’d expect to find in Parisian boutiques, like fine wines and perfumes, alongside Caribbean spice stalls, flower vendors, and fresh fruit sellers. If you’re looking for a fine souvenir, this is the place to find it. Shop with locals and learn about their favorite places.
Worldwide Local Tip: For a truly local food experience, be sure to head to Le Babaorum. Serving lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, this local hotspot has a garden outside where you can dine among the wild and colorful flowers, or check out the bar and have a few rum cocktails. The inside is a standard restaurant layout and a local favorite.
Enjoy the Fort-De-France Weather in the Stunning Jardin Balata
The absolute natural beauty of Fort-De-France is hard to find anywhere else. Jardin Balata is a good place to start. Established in 1982 by horticulturist, Jean-Phillipe Thoze, this botanical garden was built on former farmland and kept growing. Now, there are huge varieties of hibiscus flowers, exotic lilies, begonias, and ginger flowers. With the Carbet Mountains nearby, this place is truly magical.
Worldwide Local Tip: For those looking for an adrenaline rush, the Canyon de L’alma is for you. Enjoy the beauty of nature, close up, while you talk across rope bridges, rappel down canyon walls, and jump into natural pools from cliffs. Tours and guides are offered and recommended.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Fort-De-France, and Martinique as a whole, have a beautiful culture with a Caribbean and European twist--an interesting combination that is seldom found elsewhere. Fly into Fort-De-France Airport for a vacation spot that is perfect for a worldwide local looking for a little tropical getaway.