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Martinique: The essentials before leaving to visit the island

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Pau Monfort
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Located thousands of kilometers west of France, near the American coast, Martinique is the dream of all Metropolitans. Think about it! Located in the West Indies, on the Barrier Reef, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, it has everything of a great tourist destination. Well beyond this postcard image, to visit Martinique is also to discover a painful history… which has instilled in its inhabitants a “Carpe diem” spirit.





The little history of Martinique

Martinique is an island first populated by the Arawaks, that is to say the Amerindians. The discovery of this island by Christopher Columbus attracts Europeans, which exploit its resources: it is the slave trade. Occurring in the 17th century, it was not completed until the 19th century. Men and women are transported from Africa to the Caribbean to work on plantations. Martinique thus specialized in sugar cane and cocoa (later replaced by coffee). At the end of the second world war, Aimé Césaire and Léopold Bissol demand the assimilation of Martinique to mainland France. Martinique then became a department in 1946, then a region in 1982.

When to go to visit Martinique?

Martinique has the particularity of having fairly constant temperatures all year round. Indeed, the minimums are between 20 and 23 ° and the maximums between 28 and 32 ° during all seasons. However, there are two very different periods:



  • From June to November, it is the rainy season, they are very regular, sometimes quite violent. In this period, there can also be quite impressive hurricanes and tropical cyclones. It is therefore the least favorable period to visit Martinique.
  • From December to May, it is the dry season, the weather is nice and warm in general. The water temperature is regularly around 27 °. It is therefore the ideal period to go to the beautiful beaches of Martinique.
Le Diamant Beach

Also, these two seasons are a little different if you decide to go to the south or the north of the island. Indeed, in the south of the island, the rains are a little lower during the rainy season than in the north. Then during the dry season, the temperatures are slightly higher.



What budget should you plan for during your stay on the island?

On the island of Martinique, you will have to stay, eat, move and all this has a cost. Often, we mistakenly think that visiting Martinique will cost us dearly. If you prepare your schedule well, you will manage to control your budget without spending too much. For it, we advise you to book, before your departure, the different activities that you are planning on the island. You will certainly find good deals and discounts.

Regarding accommodation, you will find all kinds of prices ranging from single to double. You will have to decide whether you want a hotel, an apartment, a room with the locals or why not a youth hostel. For one night in a mid-range hotel with breakfast, count at least 100 € for two people. Full accommodation is a little cheaper, you will find it from around € 80 per night.



To eat, you will not be disoriented in terms of prices, they are roughly the same as in France. For example, you will pay for a terrace café € 1,40 and then eat in a typical restaurant for around € 35 per person. It is difficult to establish a precise budget for visiting Martinique. It will be specific to each according to your reservations, the period and the planned activities.

How to reach the island of Martinique from France?

To get to Martinique, two solutions are available to you: the plane or the cargo ship. The fastest and cheapest way is still the plane. You will pay around € 500 for a return trip during the rainy season, compared to € 700 for the dry season. The easiest way to fly from France is to go directly to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) or Orly (ORY) airport. If you take off from another French airport, you will surely make a stopover at one of these two airports before heading directly to Fort-de-France.



Create an alert when the price of the plane ticket is at its lowest.
We advise you to follow the price variation 3 to 4 months before purchasing the ticket.

Sinon you can take the freighter, but this solution will be quite expensive. Indeed, you will have to pay around 1800 € for a one-way trip and you will stay 12 days at sea. On the other hand, taking the cargo ship to go to Martinique can be a very unusual thing that will seduce you. You will be able to chat with the crew and understand the operation of these large sea vehicles. Make sure you don't get seasick before embarking on such an ocean crossing.



What are the culinary specialties of Madinina?

Creole cuisine is a wealth of Martinique, it will be essential to taste a few dishes once there. Some of them are very well known, but only Martinicans know the real recipes. Indeed, a simple cod accra tasted on the island will absolutely not taste the same as the ones you are used to eating at home. So don't be afraid to order dishes that you thought you already knew. If you ever want to eat on the go, rush to one of the many snacks that will offer you the smoked chicken. Prepared in a marinade of various spices, you will be won over by this juicy and tasty chicken.


Tropical fruits

You can also taste all kinds of pastries made from local fruits such as coconut, banana or mango. As for drinks, you can sip by the sea or elsewhere, the famous cocktail planter. It will be impossible for you to visit Martinique without tasting this mixture of local fruit juice and rum. During your trip to the local market, do not hesitate to simply buy some fruits, you will rediscover the true taste of some of them such as guava, papaya, passion fruit and many more!


Coconut

Which city to choose to book your accommodation?

Martinique is a very small island where you can reach north to south in about 2 hours by car. The city in which you will stay will therefore not prevent you from visiting Martinique in its entirety.. However, you can head to a particular city depending on the expectations you will have during your stay. You will surely arrive by Fort-de-France, you can absolutely stay there to stay there. You will still succeed in finding in this region small corners of wild beaches sheltered from the tourist crowds. It is also a lively town in the evening, where you will find several very famous typical restaurants.

If you go down to the south of the island, you will find the towns of Saint Lucia and Cap Chevalier on either side of the point. Between these two cities, kilometers of splendid beaches await you. Only, in high season, they are taken by storm by the thousands of tourists who stay on the island! Further north, the landscapes are well preserved and nature much wilder. You can walk the hiking trails that will take you to the top of Mount Pelée. Saint-Pierre would be one of the cities in which you could stay for example. The tourist influx is quite high, but it is a very calm city where you can rest peacefully.

Find a hotel or rental in Martinique:

How to get around on the island of Martinique?

In Martinique, you can rent a car or take public transport (especially in Fort de France). The bus network connects the main cities to each other. You can also hire a taxi if needed. If you are traveling alone or in pairs, you can also hitchhike, which is very common on the island. An original transport exists on Madinina: the taxico. They are, in a way, collective taxis. Once the vehicle has filled up with passengers (and only then), it leaves for the main hotspots of Martinique: Fort de France, François, Sainte-Anne, Saint-Pierre, etc. Wait for them near the wooden shelters, but be aware that after 18 p.m., it will be better to find another means of transport. Prices are variable and can therefore be negotiated.

You can also download the "Coco" application on your phone, arriving on the island. This company of private VTC drivers has indeed recently landed in Martinique. It's a bit like the West Indian “Uber”! Finally, to connect the different Caribbean islands, air and sea shuttles are available. You can easily spend part of your stay in Guadeloupe or on the island of Dominica, for example.

What are the sights to see in Martinique?

White sand beaches, a sea with beautiful turquoise waters… A waking dream? No, Martinique, quite simply! In the South, the Atlantic Ocean is the place of all the winds. During your stay, take a walk along the beaches, rent a boat and go diving in the Barrier Reef. Still in the south, but on the side of the Caribbean Sea, let your face be caressed by the gentle spray, swim in calm and warm waters.

Sailboat in Martinique

This island of all dreams is also a mountain as beautiful as it is wild. But also a tropical forest rich in plant and animal species, where there are many hiking trails available and for all athletic profiles. In addition, on the mountainside, you will be dizzy looking upwards. Indeed, the trees watch your every step from the top of their forty meters. Lovers of beautiful landscapes, this is a place not to be missed! Martinique is also a volcano, Montagne Pelée. Following its eruption in 1902, the town of Saint Pierre was destroyed. Now rebuilt, discover a small town (explore it on foot without fear of getting tired), with a heritage that must be visited.

Fort de France, the capital of Martinique

Fort-de-France

Fort de France becomes the administrative, commercial and financial capital of Martinique, following the destruction of Saint Pierre. Today, it is a dynamic city bringing together nearly a third of the Martinican population. In perpetual effervescence, Fort de France constitutes an explosive center on this Caribbean island. Discover the traces of its colonial past by walking the streets of Martinique and visit an omnipresent heritage, whether cultural or natural. Today, the city has many places to go out, store addresses for shopping ... In short, it is the true heart of Martinique!

In Fort de France, the most famous market is undoubtedly the Grand covered market. In this hall, you will be able to embrace a multitude of colors and smell thousands of perfumes: the spices indeed cover the stalls, the fruits laze happily in the sun outside, the rums are wisely aligned… A little corner of paradise located at Fort de France.

Martinique carnival

Carnival

Born thanks to the interbreeding of European and African cultures, the Martinique carnival is a major event in life on this Caribbean island. It takes place from mid-January to the first week of February and allows everyone, young and old, to party to the rhythm of the drums. A shimmer of sounds and colors not to be missed under any circumstances, whether in small towns or large cities like Fort de France. Note the two highlights of the Martinique carnival: on Mardi Gras, men dress up as women and vice versa. This gives rise to burlesque weddings! Do not miss the presentation of the 12 trophies, awarded by the public.

The rum tour and other sweets

Plain or in ti'punch, you will find rum all along your route, during a visit to a distillery or a market. In December, buy their Christmas drink, shrubb, made from orange peel, rum and sugar cane. In anticipation of your return by plane, why not buy some sweets? Made with tropical fruits and coconut, they will extend your trip a bit. Try the doucelettes, a specialty with coconut, milk and sugar. A delight! Obviously, in the different markets, you will find spices and jams to use during your meals in metropolitan France.

The museums and gardens of Madinina

Porcelain Rose

The island of Martinique is full of informative and fun museums. Learn how bananas are cultivated, but also cocoa and sugar cane with themed museums. La Savane des Esclaves or the regional museum of history and ethnography will transport you to the past. Do you prefer nature? Stroll through the magnificent Balata Garden, to discover Porcelain Roses and other shimmering tropical flowers. Finally, the fauna and flora of Martinique can be admired at Habitation Latouche, where nature has reclaimed its rights over the ruins of this old plantation!

Read also : What to do in Martinique? Here are the 14 must-see visits

Questions and practical information

Ready to go ? No, not quite ! Here is some practical information that will help you optimize your trip:

Some useful addresses:

  • The Martinique tourist office website can provide you with information about your stay.
  • You will find other practical information on the Carte Martinique website.

Under the coconut palms, heavenly beaches!

So, when are you going to visit Martinique? Tell us all in the comments! And even if you have crossed the ocean, it's time to go visit its neighbor Guadeloupe.

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