Wayward Lovers

[wey-werd] turning or changing irregularly; irregular: a wayward breeze.

The Paris of the Caribbean

Fort-de-France is the capital of Martinique. We stayed just outside of the city so we could enjoy beach life better and we visited the city about 3 times. While I don’t have other Caribbean islands to compare Martinique to, I have been to other French cities and I definitely felt like I was in a part of France. The people of Fort-de-France have the same mannerisms, beauty, and pride Parisians have. The language is a mix of Creole and French. The city itself is a bit weathered, but has brightly coloured buildings and lots of cafes and shops to explore.

Day One Exploring the City:

The bus took us directly to the waterfront/downtown of Fort-de-France where they have a large walkway with tourist shops and a busy street. We opted to head towards the spice market first.

After winding through some interesting streets we made it to spice land. It’s more like a farmer’s market as it has lot’s of fruit/veg as well as a crazy amount of spices, syrups, tropical punch, and rum drinks.

We also had lunch at the market. A fantastic Creole meal with fish, plantain, beans, and rice.

After lunch I wanted to check out some of the architecture including the church and the library. But also everything else!

While wandering we had a brief stop at the park, La Savane. SO MUCH SUN.

Find your shade!

(click here for the panorama if the embedded one doesn’t work, or to see it full screen)

And more cool buildings.

A statue of Josephine Bonaparte. Although she was born on the island, islanders don’t particularly like her very much as she was blamed for convincing her husband Napoleon to reinstate slavery. I recently found out that the statue was originally put up in her memory and included her head, but since then the head had gone missing and red paint had been splashed on her by vandals. You can read more about it on this excellent blog Uncommon Caribbean. The statue now serves as a sobering reminder of the island’s tragic history.

Then, we finally found the library! The Schœlcher Library building and most of the books were brought over piece by piece from Paris where it was originally built and assembled then unassembled. It’s so beautiful. A total gem within this already colourful city.

The building and the town we stayed in is named after Victor Schœlcher, who was on the better side of history than Josephine or Napoleon as he was a French abolitionist and the main voice for the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean. He sounds like he was a pretty cool guy according to this interesting Wikipedia article.

After a long day of wandering we found the Fort and the beach. We saved the interior of Fort Saint Louis for our next visit.

Day Two Exploring the Fort:

On another weekend we took a trip to the city with a special mission to check out Fort Saint Louis. Fort Saint Louis is an impressive looking seaside fortress that inspires images of pirate wars. It was built in 1638 and is still used as a Naval base. We got to take a tour of some of the interior. Unfortunately they only had tours in French that day, but our tour guide spoke English and helped us along the way.

(click here for the panorama if the embedded one doesn’t work, or to see it full screen)

My favourite thing was the views from the Fort of the city. Such a colourful place!

(click here for the panorama if the embedded one doesn’t work, or to see it full screen)

The fort is still used by the French navy so it has living quarters and facilities like tennis courts.

We went to Fort-de-France once more just to hang out with our Airbnb hosts and enjoy some tropical drinks.  I had such a wonderful time visiting the city, but I’m so happy that we decided to stay out of town to enjoy a different aspect of island life … a slightly more rural experience. It was just so relaxing and I felt like I was getting a more authentic experience and not just the tourist experience of Martinique.


Next: we take a road trip around the island!