If you’ve been thinking about visiting Martinique in the coming months, stop thinking and start packing! The bijoux French-Caribbean island packs Caribbean style and Continental sophistication into every inch of its 420-square-mile footprint, making it appealing to both veteran Caribbean travelers and adventurous newbies. CJ sat down with Martinique’s tourism commissioner Karine Mousseau and general director of tourism Joëlle Desir while they were in Miami recently and got the execs’ take on the newest reasons to see the Caribbean gem this coming season. Allons y!
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
New Ways to Get There It’s never been easier (or cheaper!) to reach Martinique than it is now. American Airlines will whisk you to Fort-de-France from Miami onnon-stop 3½ -hour flights as many as six times a week. And, beginning in November, low-cost carrier Norwegian Air will offer thrice-weekly non-stops from New York-JFK, and twice-weekly service from Boston and Washington DC (BWI). The best part: Prices start at just $49 one-way! Or, if you need to connect through San Juan, Seaborne runs flights from Puerto Rico three times a week, too.
New Places To Stay There are more than 3,500 hotel rooms on Martinique and this winter there’ll be even more with a pair of new digs making their debut. Check out Le Simon, a 95-room contemporary roost, which opened last January in the capital and is a superb choice for business travelers. In the fishing village of Tartane, French Coco offers 17 suites that meld traditional French Creole style with modern luxury, and a restaurant led by a protégée of famed French chef, Alain Ducasse.
New Ways To Get Around You can’t leave the country without seeing its waterfront capital, Fort-de-France, where Schoelcher Library, the grand marché and the statue of Empress Josephine are must-sees. The city center is walkable, but now even easier to get around with the introduction this summer of a fleet of petite blue hop-on/hop-off buses, which offer free rides around town (which, by the way, now has free WI-FI).
New Things To See If you’ve visited before and been awed by the imposing sight of local artist Laurent Valère’s concrete slave memorial at Anse Caffard, you’ll want to return to Martinique to see his latest work. This time Valère takes his talent to the water, with two mammoth subterranean sculptures that are the beginning of an underwater gallery for snorkelers and divers. Installed last December in the sandy depths of the Baie de Saint-Pierre, Yemaya is a 40-foot-long siren, which pays tribute to the power of the sea and the mythical female creature, as well as providing an artificial reef for sea life.
Martinique Carnival So you’ve partied in Port of Spain and “wukked up” at Barbados’ Crop Over. Now your bacchanaling bod to Martinique next year for a pre-Lenten Carnival that continues for a day longer than other Caribbean celebrations, straight through Ash Wednesday. Mark your calendars for February 26 to March 1, 2017, and prepare to courez le vidé through the streets of Fort-de-France.