Fly from Paris to Fort de France in Martinique. Or from the Uk to St. Lucia. Stay overnight & catch an early Liat flight to Martinique. No direct flight as yet.
Hiring a car at the airport is essential to do the round the island tour.
Day 1. Take the N3 & D12 inland route to St. Pierre. En route stop at the Balata garden. Open 9-6. 13 € per person. Worth every euro. Ablaze with tropical flowers & colour. Tel. 05 96 64 48 73. www.jardindebalata.fr. Don’t miss the Hummingbirds at the entrance.
Continue to the Canyon de l’Alma & on Deux Choux, A hamlet. Take the D1 there to St.Pierrie. Founded in 1635 by D’Esnambuc destroyed when the volcano erupted in 1902. It killed 28,000 people. Only one survivor & he was protected by his granite dungeon. Even the ships in the bay were destroyed by the tidal wave that followed the eruption. This had been the Paris of the Caribbean. Visit the museum and the Volcanic Sciences centre.
Take the N2 to Le Morne-Rouge & the N3 to Savane Hubert, then the D39 to the higher slopes of Mt. Pelee, the sleeping volcano. Fabulous photo opportunity. Rejoin N3 continue to the Atlantic coast & take the N1. A scenic coastal drive. Ilet Ste -Marie, stop at the vue point for spellbinding coastal views. On to La Trinite. There is a Caravelle Nature Reserve with Chateau Dubuc, the famous 18th century Privateer & scourge of the English ships. The pennisula is guarded by a vast number of canon & would have been impregnable to the fury of the English navy.
Drive on to Le Robert, a base for water sports & boat trips to the many islands. Take the D1 coast road through the Natural Park of Martinique, through vast banana Plantations & sugar cane fields. En route to Le Francois, a centre for holiday rentals & sailing. Do not miss the Rum Factory & Botanical Gardens & beautifully restored Plantation house of the Clement Estate. Www.habitation-clement.fr. Open daily 9-6. This rum tastes rather good! Best bottle to buy is the Clement V.O Rum.
Take the D6 to St. Esprit on the scenic route through stunning countryside. Then the D5 which climbs through the mountains which at some points gives views of the Atlantic & Caribbean seas from the same spot.
Descend to La Vauclin & visit Pointe La Faula which offers exceptional water sports hire & tuition. Boasting a remarkable sandbar that extends for a kilometre into the bay safely inside the reefs.
Rejoin N6 to Le Marin one of the greatest yachting centres in the Caribbean with a huge Marina, shops & restaurants & www.dreamyachtcharters.com from whom you can charter a superb cruising Catamaran with all mod cons & skipper if needed.
A good dinner can be had at Zanzibar restaurant. Tel 05 96 74 08 46 or Trip Advisor. Booking essential. It overlooks the Marina anchorage. A picture at night with its twinkling lights & yachts at anchor. Try the Tuna mi-
Take the D9 to St. Anne, the location of Club Med, one of the best & plenty of rentals. Bobbie cat rental & kayaks available, plus water ski.
The best beach on Martinique in my view is Les Salines. 5k of sand for walking along the bay under swaying palms. (Think of the film South Pacific). Good eateries. One on the beach. Or take away 7 delicious Accra du Morues for 3€ Best value on the island. Be sure to buy a coconut freshly made ice cream from the local hand bell ringing
sellers. Either take a Caribbean French Pique Nique to enjoy at one of the many sheltered palm tree waterside spots along Les Salines or eat freshly caught fish at a beach side restaurant, crayfish is the thing if you can afford €40 per person but worth the experience, as you will not often be eating in paradise….Swimming pure heaven here in generally calm seas with St. Lucie visible some 20 miles to the south in clear weather to which there is a regular ferry service from Marin.
Across the bay to the west is the remarkable island Rocher du Diamant which the Royal Navy fortified during the Napoleonic Wars to guard the Southern approach to Fort de France and Marin. The entire island was once a volcano and was turned into a vast series of heavy siege gun batteries with a devastating range of fire, never attempted by the French Republican nor French Imperial Navy.
Take the N5 from Marin to Ste. Luce and turn onto the D7 Le Diamant with spectacular swimming in turbulent seas over sand bars below swaying coconut palms with great views of Diamond Rock nearby.
Take the D37 to Les Anses d’ Arlen stopping to take awesome photos of Diamond Rock that will astound your friends at home. Be sure to photograph the wonderful illustrations on the viewing platform of the British Sailors bringing the gun up Diamond Rock on rope pulleys, an amazing feat. Once this fortification was completed, it was designated HMS Diamond Rock by the Admiralty…
The spectacular down hill ski run style of roads to Les -Anses d’ Arlen is quite remarkable, the road built on the slopes of a volcano Morne Larcher which towers above the road.
Grande Anse is a charming yacht anchorage favoured by international yachting folk for the excellence of the underwater swimming which is famously outstanding here in calm sheltered clear water above white sand and coral reefs..Eat well at Restaurant Passion on the beach, as not a good place for a picnic, as beach too narrow and you would be walked over!
Continue on cliffside volcanic mountainside roads through rain forests to Les Trois Ilets where you can charter yachts and day boats from Tourquoise Yachting if you have the necessary international accreditations or with a a skipper, expensive but wonderful if you can afford it. Best if you are able to share charter costs between friends!
Be sure to visit the childhood home of the Empress Josephine , Habitation La Pagerie which is well worth a visit and the short detour just off the main D7. Interesting remains of an old Plantation house from whence such a great historical legend was born.
The Capital Fort de France waterfront is worth a visit & the famous market. You can take a ferry to Les Trois Islet. Visit Tilo for tropical clothes, tee-shirts, souvenirs.