Fort-de-France is the capital of the French overseas department of Martinique and is located on its Caribbean coast. With around 90,000 inhabitants, it's the most populous town on the island. Even though primarily considered the island's administrative center, it also features must-see architectural gems. It's best to visit in the morning to fully take advantage of everything its lively downtown has to offer.
There are a number of ways to get to Fort-de-France. If you decide to drive, you should know that there's heavy traffic in the morning as many people work in the island's capital. A new reserved-lane public transport system is set to be launched at the start of 2017, both rapid and inexpensive, it connects the airport to downtown Fort-de-France. Another possibility is the ferry boat—undoubtedly the best way to travel to Fort-de-France from the south of the island (Trois-Ilets, Pointe du Bout and Anse à l'Ane) for less than €10 round trip. This enjoyable boat trip will drop you off in the heart of the city.
The Fort Saint-Louis is a must-see destination which has been recently re-opened to tourists on a daily basis. It had been closed to the public for quite some time and only welcomed visitors during special heritage days. Now, for only €7, you will be able to take a guided tour. Other must-see destinations include the Schoelcher library with its superb glass dome and the Saint-Louis Cathedral with its stain-glass windows that recount the city's religious life. For those wanting to learn more about Martinican culture, stop by and visit the Regional Museum of History and Ethnography.
After all this sightseeing, you'll want to see the bustling market to stock up on spices, local liqueurs, fresh fruits and vegetables, vanilla and so much more. The covered market also features Creole-style restaurants serving grilled fish, stews and local vegetables in a friendly setting. If you are looking for madras, there are a number of fabric shops in the adjacent streets (particularly rue Victor Hugo) where you can buy madras by the yard as well asother madras products (dresses, dolls, etc.)
If you have a car, you can plan on visiting the Jardin de Balata in the afternoon. This amazing botanical garden is considered one of the highlights on the island. For the hardiest of the bunch, you can put your sneakers on and hike the waterfall path in Didier (but only when the sun is shining!). It should also be noted that Fort-de-France is the departure point for a number of boat trips (Express des Iles) to other islands in the Caribbean, namely Guadeloupe, Dominica, Saint Lucia, etc.
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