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Martinique 2017

The more I grow old, the less I can handle the long dark days of winter. Which is why I've decided I should go to a sunny place this winter to recharge my batteries. Plus, the year 2016 was particularly exhausting at work and I needed a real break in a confortable place. So I've decided to spend 9 days in January 2017 in the beautiful Martinique

This destination was not random. I've already gone to Martinique and Guadeloupe as a kid. The green vegetation, the caribbean sea, the temperature and the ti punch, this looks like the most beautiful place on earth (at least to me).
So here I was, my tickets were booked 2 months before for 450€ with Corsair, I've rented a nice AirBnB in the hills of Le Diamant, which is nicely located near the Anses d'Arlet (where we stayed with my family when I was a kid) and rented a car (a Renault Clio) with Europcar for about 300€. The AirBnB rent was cheap (30€ / days) as my host was a newcomer on AirBnB and although Le Diamant is a nice place to stay the host's house location on the hills made it less accessible therefore a car was mandatory to get there. It took only 10 minutes from Le Diamant's beach by car, but it was impossible to get there for people without a car.
My trip was then mostly centered around Le Diamant, mainly surrounding the south of the island, with a few excursions to the north to places such as the montagne pelée.

Day 1

The first day was mostly traveling. With a 10 hours flight from Paris to Fort de France and the time difference, I took my plane at 9am and got to Martinique at 5pm. The time to be transfered from the airport to the Europcar station (all renting companies are about 5 km away from the airport and special shuttles take you there every 10 or 20 minutes) then after getting my car it was about 6pm. I decided to go do some grocery shopping at the Genipa commercial center just below Ducos, which is one of the biggest in Martinique, plus it was right on my way to Le Diamant. One thing to be said : at 6pm it is already night outside in the caribbeans. I was then headed to my AirBnB. After some troubles to locate it (I did take a GPS with my rental but its battery died and it was black night outside!) I finally got there at about 7:30pm. I cooked a quick meal and got to bed, as with the time difference it was about 3am in Paris! So except from the commercial center I didn't see much of the Martinique that day! 

Le Diamant

View from my AirBnB in the hills of Le Diamant

Day 2

I got up at about 5am on my second day as a result of the time shift. I've decided to head straight to les Salines' beach in Sainte Anne, which is one the most beautiful beaches of Martinique, but also the most frequented by tourists. So it's best to go early if you want a few hours of peace. I got there at about 6:30am, and as you can see on the picture above I was the only one there!

It didn't last for long as people started to arrive shortly after.

Sainte-Anne - Les Salines

Les Salines is clearly one of the most beautiful beaches of Martinique. It gets very crowded by the end of the morning and first part of the afternoon but it is worth it. It is a must do at least once during your stay.

The beach of Les salines at 6:30am with no tourists! Not for long though...

Les salines at 11am. This is the right edge of the beach where less people go. Simply because you have to walk more to get there from the parking!

View from the city of Sainte-Anne

Le Diamant

I left les Salines around 4pm and got to Le Diamant to check out its beach. This beach is less crowded than other beaches but has space and has some charm with its coconut trees. One of the main reason is that the sea is more agitated here and there are some strong currents if you go too far into the sea. Therefore it's not the best if you want to chill without moving in the sea. 

My airBnB host told me she would never go here but would rather make the drive to Sainte Luce's beach as she's afraid of the currents.

View on Le Diamant

Le Diamant's beach

Day 3

On the third day I've decided to explore the east of the island. This part is less turistic and is mostly made of cane sugar and other plantations and residential areas such as le François. 

The main attractions here are the Habitation Clement, one of the oldest rhum distillery in Martinique, and la Pointe Faula, with its atypical beach and lagune.

Le Diamant

But first a quick swim at Le Diamant's beach before making the drive to Le François.

Pointe Faula

La Pointe Faula's beach is very flat and you can go very far in the sea and still be on your feet. Other than that this beach has little interest and is not the most beautiful one.

La pointe Faula's beach

Le François - Habitation Clément

The Habitation Clement is the most visited musuem in Martinique therefore expect a little crowd here, but nothing too important. You can visit the museum, learn how rhum is made, and enjoy a degustation of the different rhums at the end. And occasionally buy some bottles of rhums directly from the makers!

La Trinité

I then went to La trinité for a little trek from the castle to the lagune down below. You can also visit the castle, which offers a nice view on the coast.

On the road to the castle you'll find a nice beach just next to the road. This beach is nice, not too crowded and is one of my favorites.

View from the road to La Trinité

An hidden beach on the road to the castle. Nice and not too crowded.

La Pointe Faula's typical fishermen beach

Day 4

After these first days of beach it was time to do the montagne pelée! Located in the north of the island, this volcano is the symbol of the north of Martinique, where it dominates Saint Pierre and Le Carbet.

After you do La montagne pelée make a halt to Saint Pierre to see the rest of the last volcanic eruption in 1902 and its famous "man in the prison", then go to the beach of le carbet with its volcanic black sand.

Saint-Pierre - La montagne pelée

I've started the climb at Morne rouge. The climb is fairly easy and can be done by almost anyone, at least to the third refuge. Going to "Le Chinois" is a little more difficult, but nothing extraordinary.

The sign at the parking in Morne Rouge

View from the top of la montagne pelée

Saint-Pierre

Saint-Pierre was destroyed in 1902 by the last eruption of the volcano. It is worth taking some time to walk in the remains to see how devasted the city was. Also don't miss the "man in the prison".

Le Carbet

On the way back to the south I've stopped in Le Carbet for a quick swim. The particularity of this beach is its black volcanic sand.

View on Le Carbet's beach and Saint-Pierre

Jardin de Balata

As I love green vegetation and tropical flowers I was expecting a lot from Balata's gardens. But I have to say I was very disappointed by them. They were destroyed around 2007 during tropical storms, and it has sinc elost much of its beauty! It'll take some time before it gets back to how it was before, but until then don't expect too much from it. It is a nice stop, but nothing extraordinary.

View from Balata's gardens

That's a shame this is pretty much the most beautiful flowers I could find...

Day 5

The fifth day I went to the south west part of the island, from Les Anses d'Arlet to Anse Dufour.

Les Anses-d'Arlet

When I went to Martinique as a kid we stayed in a small house just next to the les Anses d'Arlet's beach. So this is naturally one the beaches where we often went. This is a very nice beach with clear blue water, and the church that's sitting just next to the beach makes it the ideal postcard picture!

This beach is perfect for families, it's a little crowded as the beach is not very large, but it's worth going there from time to time.

The clear blue waters from les Anses d'Arlet

Anse Dufour

I then went to Anse Dufour, which is a small beach hidden in a crique. The beach is quite small and made of black sand and rocks. Good to go once, but not more.

Anse Dufour

Day 6

The fifth day I went to visit Sainte Luce and the Trois Rivière distillery.

Sainte-Luce

Trois Rivière distillery

This distillery doesn't procude rhum anymore but is mostly made for tourists

Sainte Luce's beach

Day 7

Another day of visiting a distillery (there are not a lot of activities in Martinique other than distilleries) but this time it was La Mauny.

Distillery La Mauny

The visit was nice. January is not the best time though to visit a distillery as the activity there is inexistant, but they explain how rhum is made and what machines they use.

The distillery's shop

The 3 distillers. La Mauny is part of the same group as Trois Rivières and another one. The 3 rhums are made here in the same distillery, with one column for each brand. This doesn't mean it's the same rhum as the type of column they use completely change its taste. You can see on this picture the 3 different types of columns.

Some stages of the distillitation columns being cleaned up. The oxydation on copper turns it green.

Day 8

My last day in Martinique was mostly chilling out and enjoying my favorite beach for one last time before taking my plane on the evening. So I went to Anse Meunier next to Sainte Anne.

Anse Meunier

That was the second time I went there, and this is definitely my favorite beach in Martinique. The road to get there is not the best, but it makes it even more rewarding once you get there!

Anse Meunier's beach

Sainte-Anne

I then went to Sainte-Anne for one last time, walked on the beach and went to the town to buy some souvenirs.

A small crique in Sainte-Anne

View from the city of Sainte-Anne

After this, I've washed the car, packed my things and went to the Europcar station to give back my rental car. I then took the shuttle to the airport, bought some rhum bottles for my friends and got back to France. Until next time Martinique, I'll come back for sure in a few years! You definitely stay one my favorite places in the world!

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