The Jardin de Balata is a veritable kingdom of trees, flowers and hummingbirds, a magical place where nature is king and where the land itself is sheer poetry. The wide array of plant form a harmonious combination of colors and fragrances.
A few steps from the Old Courthouse in Schoelcher Street, is Romero Square, where the Cathedral of San Luis can be found. It was constructed in the year 1895 by architect Henry Piq (designer of the Schoelcher Library), although it was reconstructed over the years as it suffered avatars (earthquakes, hurricanes, fires ...). It has a metal frame, which highlights its windows giving natural light, and a high tower completed in peak needle. The highlight of the inside (apart from the brightness) are the murals and frescoes that decorate the walls and ceilings and a body that presides over the altar. You can go inside to have a look on the following days: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 14h30 to 16h, and other days from the hours of 6.30 to 11h. There is a Mass everyday at 9 and another one again at 19pm.
This is perhaps the most famous and visited church in Martinique, a replica of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur in Paris. It is located about 7 km of Fort-de-France, and can be accesesd by exiting at RN 3 the road to Morne-Rouge (known as "Route de la Trace"), in the National Park of Balata. It is on the hill, in an elevated position with a viewpoint, from which you can enjoy magnificent views looking over the bay and the capital of Martinique. The church was built by Monseigneur Lequien in 1915, after the eruption of Montagne Pele destroyed Saint-Pierre in 1902 (until then the capital of the island) and was designed by the French architect Wuifflef. Its Byzantine dome, on which the statue of the Sacred Heart stands, is the most notable part. Admission is free, and the church can be visited every day from 8 to 12h and 15 to 18h. A daily Mass takes place at 9:30.
This is a small zoo and amusement center for children. We can see farm animals in fields, but not just that, the farm has recovered some of the Martinique Zoo that closed such as: birds, cats, monkeys, etc.. The activities of the park as well as the entrance of the zoo are: children can go mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, quad biking, horse riding ... The farm sells its products and it's got a restaurant if you get hungry.
On one side of La Savane Park, at the corner of the streets Rúe de la Liberté and Victor Sévère is, in my opinion, is the loveliest structures in Fort de France: The Schœlcher Library, declared a Historical Monument of Martinique. The structure was designed by Henry Picq (designer of the Cathedral of St. Louis). It was constructed for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in the year1889, and then transferred by boat to Fort de France. It is a steel building with a huge glass dome, striking colors and it has a lovely facade which has the names of 52 writers, philosophers and politicians of the 18th and 19th centuries. Today it is home to the public library, with over 130,000 volumes, mostly donated by the abolitionist Victor Schoelcher. admission is free of charge. Hours of operation: Monday 13h-17h30, Tuesday to Thursday 8h30-17h30, Saturday 8h30-17h, Saturday 8:30-12pm. In front of the building is the Préfecture, or Government House.
Anses d'Arlet is located on the west coast of Martinique, near Grande Anse and Petite Anse. These three small fishing villages, lying on the Caribbean Sea between green hills, are some of the most interesting things to see if you visit the island. In particular, Anses d'Arlet is one of the most photographed parts of Martinique because of its picturesque church, the Eglise de Saint-Henri, which is practically in the sea, and its long pier, from which you can admire the 180-degree view of the bay. Outside the church, a plaque commemorates the fallen of the country who died during the First World War ...it was surprising to see that even this small, distant part of the world made a contribution. The village is made up of a handful of colourful houses, a bakery, a couple of grocery shops, a boutique, handicrafts and souvenirs stores, ice cream parlor, a small cinema, and the beautiful white-sand beach.
About 7 km from the city along National Route 3 in the direction of Morne Rouge is the Savon hill. At the summit is Montmartre church of Balata (known as a replica of the Sacre Coeur is Paris), and a viewpoint where you can enjoy some truly spectacular views. From here you can see a wide panorama of the lush tropical vegetation in the natural park of Balata, with the city of Fort de France at its feet and the Caribbean Sea as a backdrop.
This is one of the monuments of La Savane Park and it is situated just opposite the Malecón. It consists of a marble pedestal on which the statue stands, made out of bronze, designed by Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc. In the year 1635 he took possession of the island of Martinique and established the first ever French settlement here.
This park is a real landmark of Fort de France. It is opposite the Fort Saint Louis and the Malecon, enclosed by the Rue de la Liberte, Avenue Des Caraibes and the Boulevard Chevalier de Ste-Marthe. It used to be known as the Jardin du Roy, and covers about 12 hectares. It is a large green space, with lawns, flower beds, and tall palm trees, dotted with several sculptures, among which are the Monument to the Cados, the statue of the Empress Josephine (wife of Napoleon) and the Belain d'Esnambuc monument. It has been somewhat abandoned, and last year the authorities decided to renew it, so when I visited, it was still under construction. When the renovation is complete, there will be a boulevard with terraces for a drink, and a flea market selling crafts. Around the side that faces the Rue de la Liberte, you'll find the Museum of Archaeology and History, and Bibliothque Schlcher.
This is a modern shopping mall which opened in December 2008 and is located in the heart of the city. It is a very large building two storeys high, which has street access from Victor Sévère, de la République and Moreau de Jonnes. Inside, there are many different shops selling items such as clothing, jewelry, shoes, furniture, perfumes, gifts. There is also a supermarket. There are several cafes and it also has underground parking for over 600 vehicles. It is open Monday to Saturday from 8:00 to 19:00 hours
Fort de France is a Caribbean city founded in the year 1635, by French settlers. It was originally built around a fort, Fort Royal (today Fort Saint Louis). It was never a very important city because, despite its sheltered harbour, the surrounding land was very swampy. It was contested by the British and the French over time. However, when the capital of Saint Pierre was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the early twentieth century, the administrative capital of Martinique was moved to Fort de France.
The population grew drastically, and it has become an important berth for cruise ships. The city has several historic buildings worth visiting: the Cathedral, the Schoelcher Library, the archaeological museum, the theatre and the Bougneot Pavilion. One of the city's landmarks is the Malecon, against which is the park of La Savane, a meeting place for visitors and locals. The main street is the Rue de la Republique where you will find the majority of shops. Balata neighborhood, 7 km from the city, is worth visiting to see the Church of Balata Montmartre, a replica of the Sacre Coeur in Paris.
Martinique is a French island and Fort de France is the capital. In Cathedral Square, on the corner of the streets Antoine Siger and Shoelcher, is a branch of the famous Galeries Lafayette. It is a three storey mall, with a tower in the corner, where you can find all kinds of exclusive international brands: Calvin Klein, Converse, Desigual, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, John Galliano, Armani, Fendi, Timberland, Vogue ... There is fashion for everyone (men, women and children), plus accessories and perfume and there is also a gourmet section.
This museum, situated in the Rue de la Liberté, is housed in a mansion built in the 19th Century. The façade is a good example of the typical architecture of the city. It's three stories high, made of brick with multiple symmetrical facades and windows covered with white bars. On the top floor there is a large balcony with a wrought iron railing. It houses the Museum of pre-Columbian archeology and prehistory (before colonization) from the island of Martinique, which displays more than 2,000 pieces found in the excavations that have taken place on the island since the year 4000. C until the arrival of the first settlers. Admission: € 3.50 Opening Hours:-Monday: 13h-17h, Tuesday to Friday: 8h-17h, Saturday: 9-12h. -From 15 July to 31 August: Monday and Thursday: 8-17h, Tuesday and Wednesday: 8-16h, Friday: 8h-13h.
The road from Fort-de-France to Morne Rouge is called Nacional 3, but it is more widely known as "Route de la Trace". This road was made by Jesuit missionaries during the 17th Century, which they used to communicate both cities. It is lined with vegetation, ferns, bamboo groves and tropical flowers. It is a mountainous area with lots of vegetation. Going by this winding road, about 7 km from the capital, lies the Balata Church of Montmartre, where you should make a stop to visit and enjoy the view from your veranda.
This is a wide pedestrian avenue that runs for approximately one kilometre along the entire bay of the Flemings between Fort San Luis and the ferry dock. The walk has quiet, pleasant areas of lawn and trees under which there are benches where you can sit in the shade, and several playgrounds and a music pavilion along the way, as well as a small beach area right at the end where the fort stands. It is a busy area, popular with local people, as it enjoys a great location opposite the largest park in the city: La Savane.
Although the popular tourist beaches are in the southern part of the island of Martinique (especially Pointe du Bout and Le Trois-lets), the capital has a small beach that's not too crowded. It lies at the foot of Fort San Luis, at one of the ends of the Malecón, from which you can access it directly. It is not very large, but it has fine, golden sand, washed by the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. It has a row of palm trees offering you the perfect spot to relax in the shade.
This seventeenth century defensive fortress has been declared a Historical Monument. It is the oldest and most important building in the city, and one of the best preserved forts in the Lesser Antilles, previously known as Fort Royal. It is huge building overlooking the sea, across the street from La Savane, and at the end of the maritime promenade and the beach, in the bay of the Flemings. It was built by Louis XIV. It is currently the headquarters of the Commander of the Navy, so you can not go inside, except once a year, during the third weekend of September. However, I've read that there are plans to open it as a tourist attraction.
At the end of the boardwalk, opposite the ferry station, there is a tourist market where you can buy various souvenirs and local crafts. Admission is free and inside there are variety of stands that sell various products, from typical shirts with the logo of the island and beaded necklaces made with seeds or ceramic figurines. There are also full regalia sandpipers (sarongs, sandals ...). The truth is that I saw nothing original, it looked like a tourist trap. Furthermore, it was a little overwhelming to see so many things for sale in such a small space, they were even hanging from the ceiling! This is the starting point of the Rue de la République, the main street that leads to the heart of the city.