Martinique- Fort-de-France

Martinique

 

Is a lovely island in the lesser Antilles (South Eastern Caribbean) and is part of the French Republic. As such, it has a great French and Creole culture.

Fort-de-France

is the capital of Martinique and though it has always been the administrative capital, it was once overshadowed by Saint-Pierre, the cultural highlight of Martinique.  That is, until Saint-Pierre was destroyed by the volcano in 1902 (click here to read about Saint-Pierre and see more photos!).

 

If you’re curious what that volcano looks like now, click here to read the post on my hike to the top!

 

Exploring Fort-de-France, Martinique.  A Caribbean adventure!

 

Exploring Fort-de-France, Martinique.  A Caribbean adventure!

 

 

Josephine

 

My favorite part of Fort-de-France is the statue of Josephine. My travel partner, Kat, had heard of this statue and told me it was vandalized (it’s headless and bloody.  Yes seriously). She wondered if it had since been “repaired.” Luckily for us, it had not (and I doubt it ever will be).

 

A statue commemorating Martinique-born Empress Josephine, the wife of Napoleon, is in the gardens of La Savane. It was vandalized in the 1990s, presumably by individuals who blamed her for supporting the reestablishment of slavery on the island.

-wikipedia

 

Click here to learn more about Josephine

beheaded and bloody Empress Josephine statue in martinique

 

 

Schoelcher Library

 

Libraries are cool! … so of course, we had to go visit! It is a simply beautiful building and easy to find near the gardens of la Savane (a block or two away from the statue of Josephine).

 

From US News Travel:

The building was originally designed and built for an 1889 exposition in Paris before it was shipped to Martinique and reassembled along the west side of La Savane. It was named in honor of slavery abolitionist Victor Schoelcher.

 

 

Cool Library.  Exploring Fort-de-France, Martinique.  A Caribbean adventure!

 

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

- Jorge Luis Borges

 

 

Cool Library. Exploring Fort-de-France, Martinique.  A Caribbean adventure!

 

 

Sacre-Coeur de Balata

 

A smaller-scaled replica of the well-known tourist destination in Paris, France, Sacre-Coeur de Balata is a sight to see! Not too far out of Fort-de-France, it is situated high in the mountains and is home to some lovely vistas. If you have the time, it’s an easy trip and worth it for the views and lovely architecture.

 

It’s easy to find on the way to Jardin de Balata, the botanical gardens north of Fort-de-France. Take the N3 out of Fort de France heading north (know that getting OUT of Fort de France is not the easiest. Every time we were there, we would pretty much guess which way might take us out, and hopefully on the correct road. There will be signs to Balata, so that is helpful).  Both the gardens (Jardin de Balata) and Sacre-Coeur are further away from Fort de France than you might think.  I would approximate 20-30 minute drive. Sacre-Coeur de Balata will be directly on the road and you can’t miss it!

 

Sacré-Cœur de Balata Church. Exploring Fort-de-France, Martinique.  A Caribbean adventure!

 

Thank you for visiting me on another part of my Martinique adventure! I travel often and love seeking out different things to do and see. If you’re planning on traveling sometime soon, feel free to leave a comment and I will expedite a post for you (if it’s somewhere I’ve been… and I’ve been to a lot of places).

 

Many of you may have realized that I used to do a lot more posts and have since cut back.  I realized I was spending far too much time writing posts (though I love sharing them- they just take a lot of time and effort…. and research. Though that’s my own fault- I want to be sure I’m giving the best information I can!), so I’ve cut back to approximately one per week. Still, if you have post preferences (locations/adventures, recipes, geeky/diy ideas, eco friendly stuff, etc) be sure to let me know in the comments!

 

 

Cool Library. Exploring Fort-de-France, Martinique.  A Caribbean adventure!

 

 

Want to go on other virtual adventures?

Click here to learn about the Irish round towers in Glendalough- Wicklow Mountains outside of Dublin, Ireland

glendaloch irish cross and tower. Wicklow mountains national park. St Kevin's cross.

 

Click here to learn about whisky and stories on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye in Scotland. Scottish Highland trip

 

 

 

 

 

  • Have you ever visited a location with a defaced or otherwise altered statue or monument? What sort of character did it add to the location?  
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Hiking an active volcano

Montagne Pelée 

 

(Mount / Mont  Pelée)

is an active volcano on the island of Martinique in the lesser Antilles (south eastern Caribbean).

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

 

It is famous for the destruction of Sainte Pierre and the death of 30,000 people caused by an eruption in 1902 which was dubbed the

Worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century!

 

Edit: I just found this cool smithsonian site about the Global Volcanism Program and Pelée.  Click here to read more.

 

I’ll write more about the disaster when I share photos and stories from Saint-Pierre sometime later. This post is all about our lovely hike up to the top of the volcano.

 

Edit- sometime later I wrote another post about Saint-Pierre. Click here to check it out!

Also, I did another post about a few things around Fort-de-France. Click here to check that one out!

 

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

 

I know, when you think “active volcano” and see these photos, you’re wondering where is all the lava and magma!??!??  Mt Pelée is currently quiescent and is grown over with vegetation, but is suspected to erupt again in the future.

 

memegenerator

 

There are 3 different hikes up to the crater:

Desiles hike: from Macouba.  This is the longest and least-trodden trail

L’Aileron: from Morne Rouge. This is a relatively popular one and was recommended by this blogger

La Grande Savane: from Le Prêcheur. This is the trail we chose and is another popular option.

 

Mt Pelee hiking trail map

 

Mt Pelee hiking trail map

 

La Grande Savanne trail to the top of Montagne Pelée

 

On D10 just south of Le Prêcheur there is a sign to this Mt Pelee hike. Take the road inland; as most roads in Martinique, this one is very windy and narrow. The road ends at the sign above with a tiny parking area (not an obvious parking lot by any means).

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

There is a jeep road that continues to the right. I have no clue where this road goes. A few trail guides we found tell us to take this route as the beginning of the hike. However, there is a marked trail just to the right of the sign. Since 2 other groups of hikers took this trail before we set off, we decided to follow them up this trail.

The trail starts off easy enough, up a gentle incline, through trees, and even over a nice bridge! Note- this bridge is your only moment of almost flat walking! Every other moment of the hike is on an incline. Be in decent shape or you might get exhausted quickly (or just take your time and hike more slowly).

Martinique- hiking a volcano

A view looking down the mountain at the bridge.  This is very close to the entrance of the hike

 

 

The majority of the hike is out in the open sun, so

WEAR SUNSCREEN

and be sure to reapply.

Two fair ladies hiking in the Martinique sun… and we even wore sunscreen… let me just say it was bad. I am not sharing photos of our awful sunburns.

 

 

I digress….back to the hike! Behold the beauty!

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

This looks like it belongs in the shire! I LOVE THE SHIRE! Thus, I love this hike.

 

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

 We pretended that I was Frodo and my friend was Sam

We were delivering the ring to toss in the fires of Mt Doom

Luckily, we did not encounter Shelob nor any orcs

 

 

The hike in different parts has gravel, stairs, rocks, grass, and overall is very well maintained. Know that there are times that are more of a scramble (using hands and climbing up rocks). I’m quite certain this is the case for all of the hikes up to the top of Mt Pelée, so any folks wanting to brave the volcano should be active.

 

 

There is a lot of interesting and lovely vegetation to be found up here too:

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

 

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

I love this guy- he looks as though he belongs underwater!

 

 

Up to the crater

Once you arrive to the crater rim, there is a posted sign with multiple direction options. One of them looks as though it is straight up (and it is), but it leads directly to the shack structure.

From here, one can hike up to chinois, the summit- which is another hour or so round trip (from the shack).

Continuing around the back of the shack is a trail which continues the crater rim loop and will bring you back to the posted sign.

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

 

On an extremely clear day, one can see to the neighboring islands, but clear days are very rare on the island.  We were lucky to not be engulfed in the cloud when we reached the crater rim. Though on the hike down, the cloud began rolling in:

 

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

 

 

Timing:

 

The hike up to the crater rim should take 1.5-2 ish hours one direction.

The hike around the crater rim is said to take 2 or so hours.  Since I left my hiking partner at the crater rim trail “head,” I did not hike the full loop, but went straight up to the shack and came back- which took approximately an hour round trip.

The hike from the shack to Chinois- the summit- is said to take an hour+ round trip.

 

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

 

 

The hike was beautiful and exhausting. Our  legs were a bit shaky at the end of the hike.

We took the following day “off” and relaxed a bit to rest our tired legs and sunburnt necks. I highly recommend hiking at least up to the crater.  It is certainly an experience!

 

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

 

 

Would you like to see photos of another adventure?

 

Click here to learn about my hike through Partnachklamm- a beautiful gorge in Germany

 

Or click here to learn about my hike over the top of the O2 in London

 

 

Thank you for visiting, and as usual, please let me know if you have any questions about this trip or if you would like to know more about an area you are traveling to- I might have been there and can expedite a post for you!

 

 

  • Have you ever hiked a volcano? Would you like to?

 

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