Martinique Journals

An Unexpected Cultural Turn Along the Beaten Path

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A June 2005 trip to Martinique by MoDean

Anse Cafard Slave Memorial Photo, Martinique, Caribbean More Photos
Quote: Martinique is the perfect destination for those who love the islands—the sunny beaches, azure sea, and laid-back atmosphere—but it’s also perfect for those who don’t.

An Unexpected Cultural Turn Along the Beaten Path

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Overview

Air Caraibes Arrival Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
No matter how much of the Caribbean you’ve traveled, Martinique will be a whole new experience. You can still go sailing or swimming and then get a massage in an open-air cabana overlooking the ocean, but—let’s be honest—you can do that anywhere. Beyond the beach, Martinique takes on a richer form—a personality that's colorful not because of brightly painted houses or reggae motifs, but because of the island’s fascinating history and unique brand of Créole culture. Martinique lies in the Windward chain of Caribbean islands, just south of Dominica and north of St. Lucia. The "Island of Flowers" exhibits a lush volcanic landscape, capped by the iconic Mount Pelée. Though it has chan...Read More
The Front Drive Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
Traveling up the unassuming drive to Habitation Lagrange, surrounded by a thick canopy of greenery and scattered plantation machinery relics, doesn’t quite prepare you for the stunning panorama you’ll find at the end. Suddenly the mountains rise up around the grounds of a stately historic plantation home. A lovely hush seems to fall over the area, broken only by the song of birds and the trickle of a hidden mountain stream running behind the property. The whole scene is utterly seductive, and for the history enthusiast, it will surely be love at first sight. Habitation Lagrange is situated outside the northern Atlantic village of Marigot,...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 11, 2005

Anse Cafard Slave Memorial

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Attraction

Anse Cafard Slave Memorial Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
The Anse Cafard Slave Memorial, situated on a hillside in the southwestern area of Le Diamant, is one of the most striking, memorable points of interest on the island. In a way, it epitomizes Martinique: a stunning ocean-side setting with a unique historical context. To me, it also epitomizes exactly what a memorial should be—simple and moving, both in and of itself and in the context of its surroundings. It’s an absolute must-see for any visitor to the island, history buff or not. The memorial is comprised of 20 white stone statues, situated in a triangle sloping down toward the sea. The massive, eight-foot-tall statues are carved into boxy, impressionistic human shapes, shoulders...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 10, 2005

Anse Cafard Slave Memorial

Martinique, Caribbean

Musée de la Pagerie

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Attraction

Sugar Factory Ruins Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
Few people know that Josephine, Empress of France from 1804-1809, was Martinican by birth. The daughter of a high-society family, she was born on a sugarcane plantation called La Pagerie, in the Trois Ilets district of southwestern Martinique. In 1766, a hurricane destroyed the main house, forcing the family to move to the upper floor of the sugar factory, where they lived for the next 20 years amidst the heat, fumes, and noise. She eventually moved to France and married, but her husband was beheaded during the Reign of Terror. Two years later, she married a pint-size general named Napoleon Bonaparte. The rest, of course, is history. Today, the former kitchen building of ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 11, 2005

La Savane des Esclaves

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Attraction

Entrance Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
On first sight, La Savane des Esclaves doesn’t look like much—a few open-air huts scattered among ponds, benches, and what look to be small patches of garden, all hidden away up a narrow, winding road from the village of Trois Ilets. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find one of Martinique’s most notable cultural projects. Its name translates to The Plain, or Savannah, of the Slaves, and it’s one man’s mission to nurture it into a full-fledged replica of a slave village, meant to educate tourists and provide a hands-on resource for schools and educational groups on Martinique. And the most impressive part? Because he’s been unable to secure g...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 11, 2005

Habitation de Rhum Clément

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Attraction

The Former Distillery Photo, Martinique, Caribbean
Quote:
Only in Martinique would an old rum distillery, complete with a gift shop hawking several varieties of the strong stuff, be a must-see historical attraction. And it’s not just for Habitation Clément’s array of original machinery—though they do have that—but also for the plantation’s exquisitely preserved 18th-century Créole house and even a small building that served as the setting of a political summit. As with everything else on this island, you go for one thing (here, the rum) and come away with so much more. Habitation Clément (French only) was acquired in the late 19th century by Homére Clément, but the sugar plant...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 12, 2005