Martinique: the pearl of the French West Indies

Before moving to California and creating Pastreez, a macaron delivery service across the United States, I lived on different French islands. I recently shared why Guadeloupe is a great Caribbean destination, and now I’d like to celebrate Martinique, where I had the pleasure of living for three years. Located in the Lesser Antilles of the Antilles, just north of Saint Lucia, Martinique is a dreamy Caribbean island and French overseas department. Here’s why you should consider Martinique for your next vacation.

Mount Pelee

Mount Pelée (or “Montagne Pelée” in French) is an active volcano responsible for the creation of the island. Its most recent eruption dates back to 1932 and its seismic activity is continuously monitored. You can hike on one of the many trails around the volcano and immerse yourself in the tropical flora and fauna.

There is a volcano museum you must visit called the Memorial to the 1902 disaster. It was at the beginning of the 20th century that the most horrific eruption of Mount Pelée occurred, destroying the neighboring town. According to legend, only two people survived, one being a protected prisoner in his prison cell.

Culinary specialties

If you’ve ever been to the Caribbean, you know for a fact that traditional cuisine is tasty and memorable. One of my favorite dishes when I was there was chicken Boucanélocal wood-smoked chicken.

And there is no need to find a Cordon Bleu chef to prepare this specialty. Before heading to the beach on a Sunday lunchtime, my wife and I liked to stop at local farmers who sell pieces of chicken Boucané ready to eat. It’s the Caribbean lifestyle!

Later, when you return home from your trip to the beach, head to the local merchants for a to taste (snack) at 4 p.m. One of my favorite treats is called the tower of love. Originally from Les Saintes (a small island near Guadeloupe), the “Love’s Tourment” pastry is a small tartlet filled with local guava jam inside a pie shell. Needless to say, these are the perfect afternoon snacks.

I brought this love of fruits and tropical flavors to my online bakery Pastreez. Summer is coming and new macaron flavors such as mango and passion fruit will be available! And if you’re really into it, I’ve created the Macaron Club of the Month, with new seasonal flavors every month on your doorstep.

Local restaurants

Meals can make or break a trip. You just have to navigate correctly! Here are my tips and favorites for beginners in Martinique. Google Maps can be a solid search tool for many restaurants around the world, but on small islands like Martinique, most restaurants don’t have a strong online presence.

The first tip is to ask the front desk of your hotel, or better yet, the locals at your Airbnb. Ask them what their favorite restaurant is. Personally, I prefer to “integrate” rather than go to “touristy” places when I travel. It’s the best way to really get into a culture.

My favorite address is Ti Cozy in Sainte-Anne. Not far from the sea, you will eat excellent Caribbean cuisine at a reasonable price.

The beaches and the Diamond Rock

The Caribbean islands are famous for their breathtaking sandy beaches. And Martinique is no exception. But the ultimate experience is to rent a boat with a local guide. This is the only way to find empty beaches where you can stay all day. When I lived in Martinique, I was lucky to have a friend with a boat. And every weekend we traveled the entire Martinican coast in search of a new nugget of beach.

Did I mention the Diamond Rock or Diamond Rock? It is a spectacular isolated rock a few kilometers from the coast of Martinique. Rising 575 feet above the sea, this basalt rock is located south of Grande Anse du Diamant. It’s a must if you ever decide to visit Martinique!

Finally, my favorite beach in Martinique is Anses d’Arlet. Beautiful and unique, this sandy beach is hidden in thick rainforest, making it less crowded. Here in this town there is a long pontoon from which children can run and jump into the water. To share a little secret, this pontoon is perfectly aligned with the church where my wife and I got married.

I hope these tips will be useful to you when planning your trip to Martinique. A week should be enough to explore the island and soak up its culture.

Main photo credit: Traditional fishing port of Grand-Rivière in Martinique French West Indies © JLXP on Wikimedia Commons

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