the vacationer, Martinique serves up its charms like a rich alfresco
lunch on the Cap d'Antibes: relaxed yet sophisticated, sensual yet
folksy. On this island, one is literally and spiritually on French
soil, so local customs and food, while spiced with native geniality
are assuredly Continental. Though Martiniquais welcome all visitors
warmly, most who tour here are French, and in backroad locales English
is scarce. But in urbane Fort-de-France and Pointe du Bout, where
boutiques, fine restaurants, nightclubs, and casinos abound, communication
is rarely a problem. Here, too, travelers can enjoy a myriad of
sports, from scuba diving to championship golf.
island boasts an exceptionally tempestuous past, offering numerous
diversions to those who relish delving into history as much as they
do soaking up the sun. Martinique's prime claim to fame is the 1902
eruption of Mount Pelee, which, in a matter of minutes, incinerated
the cultural mecca of St. Pierre, leaving just one survivor. The
volcano, alive but dormant, is monitored year-round by volcanologists;
St. Pierre, never reclaimed, is a haunting tropical cousin to Pompeii.
Spilling down from Pelee's slopes is a hilly Eden of magnificent
rainforest, ideal for hikers, botany buffs, and travelers who dream
of staying in a rustic French inn transported to a flourishing jungle.
Farther south, wilderness gives way to sugarcane fields; everywhere,
bougain-villea, hibiscus, and fruit trees bloom in profusion.
coral beaches are equally stunning, though along the coast of posh
Pointe du Bout even the most upscale resorts sometimes lose their
shoreline to pillaging offshore currents. For clients who must have
postcard-perfect stretches of rosy sand, hotels to the south are
a better bet.
of Martinique's most charming attractions is its hodgepodge of small
museums. Are your clients fascinated by the history of rum or dugout
canoes? Devotees of Josephine Bonaparte (a former native) or Paul
Gauguin (who lived here en route to Tahiti)? Sharkoholics should
hit the aquarium, volcano lovers the Pelee museum. Martinique is
also proud of its creole traditions, and its dance troupes are a
must-see, especially at Mardi Gras, when the entire island celebrates
in style. Recommend this place to clients who long for an idyllic
retreat with robust foreign panache.