Martinique is a little island with a big ego. In too many places you encounter this attitude: If you don't speak French, you don't belong here. You're not welcome here.
You don't have to put up with such nonsense on St. Martin or Guadeloupe. So, go somewhere else
until these people learn some manners. And consider the "Local Saying" posted to the right. Do these people even like themselves?
Martiniquans are French citizens and their island is officially part of Europe. They couldn't survive on their own. France has contributed as much as 70% of the island's gross national product. Yet the unemployment rate has been among the Caribbean's highest. No booming tourism industry here, for some reason.
Which is too bad. Martinique has some very interesting sites. One is Mount Pelee, still an active volcano, which completely destroyed the former capital city of St-Pierre in 1902. Mount Pelee, quiet ever since, is one of the island's many popular hiking trails.
Before Mount Pelee's horrific eruption, St Pierre was called the "Petit Paris" of the West Indies. It was the economic, cultural and political capital of Martinique, situated picturesquely on the east coast.
Following St. Pierre's devastation, the city of Fort-de-France, built around Fort St. Louis in the 17th century, was named the new capitol.
Fort-de-France's La Savane, a huge park, is a white Carrara marble statue of Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, supposedly born on Trois-Ilets across the bay in 1763 and later the Empress Josephine, first wife of the Napoleon Bonaparte.
However, St. Lucia claims she only was conceived in Martinique and born on and lived in St. Lucia for seven years before going back to Martinique with her family. The people of Martinique will tell you the Empress Josephine is all theirs, that she had no St. Lucia connection.
Martinique is one of the relatively few islands where camping not only is permitted but encouraged. It's a popular activity locally in the forests and on the beaches especially between June and September.
No doubt about it, there are a lot of good things that can be said about Martinique. But are they worth the hassle to see them?
You decide. If you speak French, you may love it here. Most islands don't come with such stringent conditions and requirements of their guests.
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