The theatre in Saint-Pierre that was distroyed in 1902 Mount Pelee eruption

Part of the Lesser Antilles and another of the overseas region of France, Martinique somehow manages to combine a distinctive blend of French Je-ne-sais-quoi with West Indian Caribbean cultures.

Its largest town, Fort-de-France, features steep hills, narrow streets and is a very superyacht friendly port of call. Massive Hypermarkets the type seen in Monaco and Antibes are just around the corner from berths suitable for superyachts.

Chief stews adore this French island for the availability of the finest French products, from Chanel fashions to Limoges china, while chefs love the gastronomy and possibilities of storing exactly what is needed for the next charter without having to fly it in especially at great cost.

View from the walking trail up Mount Pelee

The volcano Mont Pelée looms over the anchorage of St-Pierre. The mountain itself is a great morning time hike that takes 4 hours or so.  But do get there early so you are back before it all heats up too much and the clouds lower to cover the peak!

The prision in Saint-Pierre that was distroyed in 1902 Mount Pelee eruption

The story of St-Pierre is one of the most remarkable in the Caribbean and one of its worst disasters. By the turn of the 20th century St-Pierre was a flourishing city of 30,000, known as the Paris of the West Indies. As many as 30 ships at a time were at anchor of the harbour. By 1902 it was the most modern town in the Caribbean, with electricity, phones, and a tram. On May 8, 1902, the volcano erupted, Mont Pelée split in half, belching forth burning ash, poisonous gas, and lava that raced down the mountain at 250 mph. At 3,600°F, it instantly vapourised everything in its path; 30,000 people were killed in two minutes.

On our way to Mont Pelée we passed through the quiet little town of Balata, which has two sights worth visiting. Built in 1923 to commemorate those Martinicans who fought and died in World War I, the Church is an exact replica of Paris’s Sacré-Coeur Basilica and as churches go, is rather special.

in the Jardin de Balata in Martinique

But for us, the gardens; Jardin de Balata, are the star attraction. Just a short distance from Fort-de-France, they are well worth the visit even for those who do not normally like to look at plants.  The gardens are beautifully layout with some 3000 tropical plants and a suspended tree walk that will definitely attract the adrenaline junky.

On the treetop trail in the Jardin de Balata in Martinique