BEHIND THE PHOTOS: THE FRENCH CARIBBEAN, L’ÎLE DE LA MARTINIQUE

Martinique, a tropical paradise in the French Antilles, is an overseas region of France.  Here, European meets the Caribbean and the result is almost as perfect as the crêpes you can buy on every street corner.

Chris and I spent 6 days in Martinique with two of our close friends, exploring the coastal beaches, open-air markets, and jungle-like gardens scattered throughout the region.  We rented a tiny white Kia and drove up and down the coast, through the mountains and by a volcano.  Here are the pictures we took and the stories behind them.

THE ROPE BRIDGES OF JARDIN DE BALATA, FORT-DE-FRANCE

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This photo was taken at the Private Botanical Garden along the route de Balata, about 5 miles outside of Fort-de-France.  It is home to 3,000 varieties of tropical plants from around the world and 300 different species of palm trees.  We walked for about 20 minutes into the Jardin before finding the rope bridges, which form a circuitous path up in the trees.  They are very bouncy and no more than two people can be walking on the same bridge at a time.

CHILD WALKS OUT OF ST. LOUIS CATHEDRAL, FORT-DE-FRANCE

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We crossed paths with this little guy outside of the St. Louis Cathedral in Martinique.  He looked over at us and waved.  He continued to stare at us, in his Brasil onesie and Finding Nemo sandals, so Chris took his picture.

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This is our tiny Kia rental car.  She is small but she is mighty.  In Martinique, the roads have many sharp turns and curves, often it’s either extremely steep uphill or downhill and rarely level.  The speed limit is twice what it should be in most cases as well, and it is dangerous to go slower.  Needless to say, I felt like a Formula 1 driver at the Monaco Grand Prix.

THE BEACHES OF SAINT-PIERRE, MARTINIQUE

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Saint-Pierre is a fishing city on the Northwest coast of the island.  In the 19th century, it was the economic and cultural center of Martinique, known as the “Paris of the Caribbean”.  However, it was entirely destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902 and Fort-de-France grew as the capital city.  We were able to enjoy views of the Majestic volcano Mount Pelée, swim at the local beaches and eat fresh fish while looking out at the ocean filled with sailboats and small yachts.

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I had the opportunity to talk with this man at a café in Fort-de-France.  Martinique is different from the rest of France in that few people speak English as a second language.  Since I was the only one in our group who speaks French, I did the majority of the talking while we traveled here.  This man was sitting at the table next to us, quiet and observant.  He was people watching.  Chris wanted to take his picture, so I approached him and asked if it’d be okay to take a picture.  He smiled and said, “Bien sûr” (Of course).

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