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 Caribbean 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).

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Airports / Gateways / Flying times

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 or others companies ( XL Airways, Air Caraibes, Corsair ) which fly direct from Paris. British Airways, bmi and Virgin Atlantic fly from the UK to St Lucia with onward connections on Air Caraibes to Lamentin International Airport (FDF). Paris: 7 hours. London to St.Lucia: 8 hours.

Climate

The mean temperature averages about 79 degrees F. Average humidity 75%. Like in the all the Caribbean area, The rainy season is from the end of August to October. Approximate sunrise-0530. Approximate sunset-1815.

Dining

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.

Language

French is the official language. Creole is spoken locally. English is spoken in the tourist areas.

Nightlife

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..

Sightseeing

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.

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