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A visit to Martinique is the perfect reason to brush up on your French. This lovely island blooming with hibiscus, bougainvillea and frangipani feels like it should be in Europe, save for the palm trees and West Indian cultural influences. French is the official language, peppered with a lyrical Creole patois. Mountainous and verdant with bamboo and generous ferns, Martinique also has cosmopolitan cities. Harborside Fort-de-France, the capital, is dominated by La Savane, a giant urban park and the center of action, including the island's throbbing Mardi Gras festivities. Saint-Pierre, the former capital that was wiped out when the ...

A visit to Martinique is the perfect reason to brush up on your French. This lovely island blooming with hibiscus, bougainvillea and frangipani feels like it should be in Europe, save for the palm trees and West Indian cultural influences. French is the official language, peppered with a lyrical Creole patois. Mountainous and verdant with bamboo and generous ferns, Martinique also has cosmopolitan cities. Harborside Fort-de-France, the capital, is dominated by La Savane, a giant urban park and the center of action, including the island's throbbing Mardi Gras festivities. Saint-Pierre, the former capital that was wiped out when the volcanic Mont Pelée erupted in 1902, is today a popular tourist attraction for its ruins.

Divers and snorkelers have plenty to do off Martinique, including exploring shipwrecks and coral gardens. Beautiful beaches abound and the mountains offer some excellent hiking trails. The seaside resorts at Pointe du Bout have great restaurants and clubs playing zouk, a French West-Indies blend of hot dance music.

Debra Landau
About the Expert

Debra Landau has written eight Lonely Planet guidebooks, including books on the USA, Caribbean, and the South.

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Debra Landau for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
  • Language: French, Antillean Creole
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Martinique | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Peak season is February to May, but the shoulder seasons are also pleasant and are often less busy.