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The capital of the French overseas territory of Martinique feels a bit like France, yet at the same time it doesn't. The smell of French bread mixes with upbeat Caribbean sounds here and in the cafes you can enjoy French wines, while on the markets the exotic colors of tropical vegetables and fruits dominate.
Right next to the sea lies the heart of the city, La Savane, a large square park with palms and mango trees and in the middle a statue of Joséphine de Beauharnais, who was the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte between 1804 and 1809 and Empress of France. In 1991 the statue was beheaded in protest against Josephines support to slavery. Around the park you can find cafes and restaurants and many stalls selling local souvenirs like carvings, bracelets, necklaces and straw hats too. On the headland in front of the park stands the old Fort Saint-Louis. On the hills near the city you can find two more defense structures, Fort Tartenson and Fort Desaix.
A notable building is the Cathédrale Saint-Louis, which is entirely made of wood. It was designed by Pierre-Henri Picq, who also built the Schoelcher Library. Which happens to be a completely different kind of building; it looks a bit like a train station. This library is dedicated to the writer Victor Schoelcher, who fought for the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century. His statue stands in front of the library.
Exactly that slavery and its impact on society are the central themes of the Musée Régional d'Histoire et d'Ethnographie. Slaves were used for sugar cultivation on vast plantations. What Martinique looked like before the French colonized the island is what you will learn in the Musée Departemental d'Archeologie et de Préhistoire. The exhibit begins with the arrival of the Arawaks and the Caribs, some 3000 years BC.
The Route de la Fontaine Didier (D45) leads to beautiful waterfalls just outside the city. From the parking lot a walk through a pretty jungle leads you to a little river. If you cross the bridge there and walk through a tunnel you will end up at the first waterfall. This one is not that spectacular, with a height of six meters, but further along is a waterfall of 25 meters high. You can swim at the bottom off this waterfall.
About 10 kilometers outside the city, along the road towards Morne Rouge (N3), you can find the Jardin de Balata, a botanical garden. Not far from there you will briefly find yourself in the Paris district of Montmartre, because there stands a replica of the 'sugar cake church' Sacré-Coeur.
The highest point of Martinique is the dormant volcano Mont Pelée (1397 m) in the north of the island. The last time this volcano erupted was in 1902, which left the then main town of the island - Saint-Pierre - destroyed and over 30,000 people died. The volcano is surrounded by rainforest and the beaches in the north consist of black, volcanic sand. The most popular beaches are located on the south coast of Martinique, whilst the east coast consists mainly of jagged rocks.
Martinique has a high 'car density'. This makes it quite busy on the island and especially in the capital Fort-de-France. In the center are six car parks, where you can usually find a spare space for your rental car.
Aéroport International Martinique Aimé Césaire is located five kilometers southeast of Fort-De-France, in the suburb of Le Lamentin. The airport is easily accessible by rental car via the main road N6.