Saturday, 20 March 2010

More of Martinique

Rather than the expected white van, we happily ended up with a car although the passenger window didn't work. We drove out of Fort de France up into the Pitons du Carbet on the Route de La Trace (opened by the Jesuits in the early 1700s) and stopped at the Ancienne Station Thermale d'Absalon, where we enjoyed a wonderful 2 hour circular walk in the rainforest. Steep paths laced with tree roots took us through luscious tropical greenery and exotic flowers populated by brightly coloured hummingbirds. At the end we climbed down into the gorge and had a refreshing swim under a waterfall.
On day 2 we visited Habitation Clement near Francois, a rum distillery with a beautifully restored Creole plantation house. Taking the coastal road up the Atlantic side of the island we investigated the Caravelle Nature Reserve and then had a spectacular drive up to Grand-Riviere on the very north of the island. Along the way we managed to collect a bucket full of fallen mangos which we are now gorging ourselves on.
On a more commercial note we also took some time to visit the myriad of massive shops and malls in Le Lamentin - there was no sense of being in the Caribbean, it was like being back in Europe, everything is available!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Exploring Martinique

Our first stop after Le Marin was the little village of Ste Anne, still in the same enormous bay towards the south of the island. The long white sand beach there is buzzing on Sunday with large crowds of locals picnicking under the trees. Joined by our good friends on S/Y Scorch, we had a delicious three-course lunch in town at Le Sud, which we would highly recommend to anyone.

A pleasant downwind sail took us to Fort de France, the capital, where we anchored under the imposing fortress of St Louis. The town has a very French feel to it and offers some good shopping and a number of interesting buildings. The most striking is Bibliotheque Schoelcher, built for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris and then shipped to Martinique; it is still in use today. Disappointingly there is a dearth of street-side cafes in the town centre where one can enjoy a coffee or a cold beer and watch the world go by.

We moved on to Trois Islets (confusingly the name of an area and a small village). The anchorage feels very rural with the sound of birds, crickets and some very vocal cockerels. Bourg of Trois Islets is charming and was the home of Princess Josephine up until the age of 16. There is a lovely stuccoed church and a plethora of fish-scale tiled buildings. We walked across the peninsula to see Anse Mitan which was a complete contrast – very touristy and rather naff.

Finding a rental car has been a challenge, there simply aren’t any! Apparently after the strikes of last year, the rental agencies divested themselves of much of their stock. Now, in high season, they don’t have enough cars to go around. We finally managed to find a 2-seater white van to rent and are picking that up tomorrow to explore more of the island.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


We sailed up to Martinique from St Lucia last week and took our ailing GPS to Jacques at Diginav Electronics in Le Marin. It took several visits over a few days for him to determine that, it was uneconomical to repair. Jacques gave us a fantastic deal on a new Furuno 32 which is now installed and running.

At the moment we are anchored off Ste Anne but we plan to spend the next couple of weeks exploring Martinique before returning to St Lucia for 22nd March.