, 7 Nights,
Cheap Vacations to Fort de France
The Heart of Martinique
Fort-de-France nestles within the island of Martinique, situated at the junction of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, bathed in light, steeped in music, trimmed with superb beaches and abounding with luxuriant vegetation. Arriving by sea on the ferry that departs from Pointe du Bout, where the greatest concentration of tourist establishments on the island can be found, will enable you to appreciate Fort-de-France from its most flattering viewpoint. Visitors will enjoy a spectacular look at this bustling little city, nestled at the very farthest end of the magnificent Baie des Flamands and surrounded by hills, with the peaks of some of the island's highest mountains silhouetted in the background.
As soon as you get off the ferry and look across Boulevard Alfassa, which runs along the waterfront, you will see a large green space which includes 5ha of flower-fringed paths, majestic royal palms, benches to relax on, commemorative statues of a few prominent individuals and the vendor's stalls of the craft market: the magnificent Place de la Savane. The vast majority of Fort-de-France's sights are clustered around this square. Facing the sea, you'll find the bronze statue of Belain d'Esnambuc, which honors the Afounder@ of Martinique, who claimed the island for France on September 15, 1635.
On the north side of Place de la Savane stands the white marble statue of Empress Josephine, raised in 1859. This monument serves as a reminder that Martinique, and more precisely Trois-Îlets, was the birthplace of Marie-Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie (1763-1814), wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. Opposite the statue, on the other side of Rue de la Liberté, you will find the Bibliothèque Schoelcher, an irresistibly charming building and the city's landmark. The library, which now contains more than 200,000 volumes, was named after Victor Schoelcher, the celebrated deputy who struggled to abolish slavery in the French colonies.
Via Rue de la Liberté, which runs past a number of beautiful buildings housing hotels, bars, restaurants and shops, you will soon reach the not-to-be-missed Musée Départemental d'Archéologie et de Préhistoire. This museum, which focuses on the island's pre-Columbian history, informs visitors about the settlements of the Arawak and, later, Carib Indians on the island. More than 1,000 artifacts (pottery, figurines, engraved goblets, etc.) found during archaeological digs provide insights into Native history in Martinique during the period between 4000 BC and AD 1660.
The Parc Floral et Culturel, a botanical garden located behind Place José-Martí, contains various species of tropical flowers. You can also visit the Galerie de Géologie et de Botanique or take part in one of the many cultural events sponsored by the park (exhibits, concerts, etc.). Also within the park is the Exotarium, which is Fort-de-France's municipal aquarium.
In Fort-de-France, if you go downtown or around the Place de la Savane, you will find some delicious restaurants. And there is always something to do in the evening (nightclubs, movies, theatre).
Each year, the Carnival is a long-awaited festival that starts a few days before Ash Wednesday. These days of jubilation feature great vidés (parade-like events), during which carnival-goers dress up and flood the streets of Fort-de-France while dancing to the frenzied rhythms.
Where on earth
The most important city on the island, Fort-de-France lies in the central-western part of Martinique. The city counts nearly 100,000 inhabitants, the Foyalais, and it is also home to the island's main port through which all foreign ships and cruise liners pass. Today, Fort-de-France continues to expand, and residential areas are springing up in the hills surrounding the city. The working-class sections, such as Sainte-Thérèse and Trenelle, border the city centre. Fashionable neighbourhoods like Redoute, Didier and Balata lie higher up.
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