Martinique – Mountains, Volcanoes and Hills, OH MY!
Martinique – Mountains, Volcanoes and Hills, OH MY! Tips For Making the Most of Your Martinique Vacation
I recently spent 7 days in Martinique, and it was an event filled experience. Officially considered an overseas region of France, the island had a unique vibe that I had not experienced while visiting other Caribbean islands. Here are a few tips and insights that might be helpful if you plan to visit. PLUS, pictures. Who doesn't like pictures?
Upon landing, the beauty of the mountainous terrain immediately struck me, and I marveled at the colorful homes built high atop the hills. The flight from Nassau was just under 3 hours long, and the immigration process went relatively smooth. I did find the armed immigration agents’ stony-faced silence somewhat intimidating, and the camouflaged, fully armed military guards didn’t put me at ease. (Would you be? Lol) But, during my trip, I felt rather safe, so this scene was a bit odd.
It was rather difficult to rent an automatic vehicle, as most of the cars are manual aka stick shift, but after some begging and pleading (very much literally) one magically appeared. Automatic vehicles as more expensive, but unless you are a standard shift pro, I wouldn’t suggest trying to learn on the hilly roads. (I REPEAT….If you aren’t a PRO, don’t try it. Lol)
They drive on the right hand side of the road, and the streets are a mix of highways and roundabouts. I am very accustomed to every region having their own form of unspoken road rules, but…..let’s just say, they have their own ways of doing things, and I didn’t quite understand what was going on at most times. But hey, the traffic system works perfectly fine for them, and I thankfully wasn’t driving.
French is the official language of Martinique. There are a few men and women who speak English and there were some kind souls who did there best to help us along. However, this is not always the case. It is best to learn some key words to at least get by during your travels.
Here are a few of the basics that got me by.
Bonjour – hello/good morning
Merci – thank you
Sans – without
Lambis – Conch
Poulet - Chicken
Our (wee) – yes
Non - no
Au revoir – good bye
Excusez-moi- excuse me
This is ALL I could remember, but it would be a great idea to brush up on some basic French phrases. I tried very hard, and for the most part, people were accommodating. There were a few instances where there were misunderstandings, and a woman in the fruit market cursed us out for only God knows what, but we got by. (We think she thought we ate one of her sugar bananas, despite us being in a completely different section of the market.)
I stayed at the newly opened Simon Hotel. Open for just over two months during my stay, the Simon still has some work to be done. It is a beautiful hotel that simple opened too early. However, it is centrally located in Fort de France.
There are just a few of the basics from my trip. Be on the lookout for even more highlights from my Martinique adventure.
They use the Euro in Martinique. There are lots of ATMS around, but you can also use a currency exchange merchant.
Make sure you bring a European adapter with you. I didn’t think about this, and our hotel only had two for guest use. You can locate one at a hardware store, but this may be a hassle.
I really enjoyed the super fresh seafood in Martinique. The fish tasted like it was pulled right out of the ocean and freshly prepared. And, many of you know that food is my favorite part of any trips.
Here is a rundown of some of the places that I enjoyed during my trip.
Mount Pelee is beautiful, and it is well worth the long, winding drive up a mountain, to get there. Once you get as high as you can drive, you are not only treated to an amazing view, but also a very unassuming restaurant with amazing food. 'Le Refuge de 'Aileron' doesn't look like much from the outside, but the seafood is extremely fresh, the beer is cold, the air is crisp, and the desserts are delightful.
Sainte-Luce is a beautiful beach town, with lots of little restaurants along the shore. We were told that all of the restaurants were good, with seafood caught fresh that very same day, and sure enough, we were not let down. This is a great place to sight-see and grab a delicious lunch or dinner.
There are a string of little takeaway kiosks in Fort de France. They are great for a quick bite, or a late night meal. I really enjoyed the grilled lambis (conch) with creole sale. And, when the sauce soaked into the fries, they became another level of yum!
Hasta La Pizza is located in Fort de France. The pizza is lovely and this little spot was great for a late night, or midday, meal. It was also affordable.
The Yellow was recommended by the Simon hotel staff. The food was pretty good. My dining companions noted that they really enjoyed the duck and the steak.
Most people would not expect airport food to be good, but we were pleasantly surprised. I would definitely recommend trying the plantain mash. SO GOOD!
I hope you found this little write-up helpful. Be on the lookout for more travel tips and stories, coming soon!