Sainte Anne is the popular city on this Windward Island located south of Dominica. Sainte Anne is the centerpiece of beautiful beaches, rainforests and exotic scenery. The weather is just as beautiful as the scenery with a typical tropical climate. Though, the best time to visit is between December and April. The main way onto the highly populated island is through the Martinque Aime Cesaire International Airport.
- Capital city – Fort-de-France
- Language – French
Fort-de-France, capital city of Martinique
Fort-de-France is the attractive capital of Martinique and a true harbor city. The best way to reach the city is by ferry, and you will be greeted by a picturesque panorama of the St. Louis Fort watching over the bays of the Carenage and the Flamands. Take time wonder around the historic sites and narrow streets lined with colorful buildings. Soak up the aromas, flavors and colors in the market, and enjoy your time in the French West Indies’ most cosmopolitan city.
A stroll through the capital’s historic district will reveal a number of charming colonial edifices and traditional wooden houses. Look for the elegant Pavillion Bougenot, constructed in 1887, and the Rue Victor-Hugo’s Maison Saint Cyr. The delightfully relaxing Jardin de la Savane is the heart of the district and the perfect place to unwind after exploring the neighborhood.
The stunning Schoelcher Library is one of the most distinctive buildings on the island. Built in Paris in 1887 by Henri Picq, the building was disassembled and recreated in Fort-de-France six years later. The graceful design highlights a notable variety of inspirations, from the Egyptian-Byzantine and Art nouveau eras to the metallic structure found in the Eiffel Tower. Inside are over 300,000 works donated by Schoelcher, and visitors are welcome to browse one-third of the collection.
Picq also designed the St. Louis Cathedral. Built in 1895, the building’s 58-meter high spire can be seen throughout Fort-de-France. The original St. Louis Church fell victim to a fire and an earthquake, so Picq built the second reincarnation with a sturdy metallic structure capable of withstanding such natural disasters. Venture over the threshold to wonder at the perfectly proportioned, luminous interior that includes a pulpit and altar from the late 19th century.
To better understand the island’s history and culture, spend an afternoon exploring the Regional Museum of Ethnography and History. Housed in a handsome colonial residence, the museum provides insight into everyday life for locals in late 19th-century Martinique. The highlight of the collection includes West Indies dresses create from brooch satin and madras.
One of the most beautiful patches of land in all of Martinique is the Balata Garden. Jean-Philippe Thoze spent over two decades collecting rare tropical plants for the garden, and today the grounds thrive with orchids, heliconias, ginger, bromeliads and begonias. Dense greenery provides a backdrop for the bright splashes of color, and together they paint a vivid picture of tropical nature. The sweet songs of native birds fills the air, and hummingbirds can often be spotted sipping nectar from the flowers.
For a bird’s-eye-view of the garden, trek through the Route de la Trace, a winding trail that stretches from the capital to the enchanting village of L’Ajoupa-Bouillon. In addition to offering incredible views of the garden, the trail also delivers panoramic views of the mountainous landscape, luxurious vegetation and quaint villages.
The Caribbean is known for its rum, and Martinique is no exception. The Dillon distillery in Fort-de-France is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in rum production and tasting. Several types of vintage and white rum are produced on-site, and the mills that prepare the sugarcane are still powered by a steam engine from 1922. The finale of a visit to the distillery is a tasting of Appellation agricultural rum, a true Caribbean treat.