Cayenne is not actually located in France, but rather in French Guiana, which is an overseas department and region of France. As the capital city of French Guiana, Cayenne offers a unique blend of French and Caribbean cultures, stunning natural beauty, and a rich history. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Cayenne:
1. Place des Palmistes
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This charming square is the heart of Cayenne, lined with palm trees and surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings. It’s a great place to relax, people-watch, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
2. Fort Cépérou
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Perched on a hill overlooking Cayenne, Fort Cépérou offers panoramic views of the city and the coastline. This historic fort dates back to the 17th century and provides insights into the colonial history of French Guiana.
3. Musée Départemental Alexandre Franconie
Located in a former colonial mansion, this museum showcases the history, culture, and natural heritage of French Guiana. It houses a diverse collection of artifacts, including indigenous crafts, historical documents, and natural history exhibits.
4. Îles du Salut (Salvation Islands)
A short boat ride from Cayenne, the Îles du Salut consist of three small islands—Île Royale, Île Saint-Joseph, and Île du Diable. These islands were once used as a penal colony and offer a haunting yet captivating experience. Explore the old prison buildings, walk along beautiful beaches, and take in the picturesque landscapes.
5. Jardin Botanique de Cayenne
Known for its impressive collection of tropical plants and trees, the Jardin Botanique is a serene oasis in the heart of the city. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, admire the diverse flora, and learn about the region’s unique biodiversity.
6. Place Victor Schoelcher
This lively square is named after the French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher and features a prominent statue of him. It’s a popular spot for social gatherings, events, and live performances.
7. Marché de Cayenne
Immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the bustling markets of Cayenne. The Marché de Cayenne is a vibrant hub of activity, offering an array of fresh produce, spices, handicrafts, and traditional Creole food.
8. Plage de Montjoly
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach day, head to Plage de Montjoly. This picturesque beach is known for its golden sand, tranquil waters, and scenic coastal views. It’s an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, or simply enjoying a peaceful seaside stroll.
9. Hiking and Nature Exploration
French Guiana is blessed with lush rainforests and diverse ecosystems. Take advantage of the numerous hiking trails and guided tours available to explore the region’s natural beauty. From wildlife spotting to river cruises, there are plenty of options to experience the unique flora and fauna of the area.
10. Culinary Delights
Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the local cuisine in Cayenne. Sample delicious dishes influenced by both French and Creole flavors, such as accras (deep-fried codfish fritters), bouillon d’awara (a traditional meat and palm fruit soup), and fresh seafood.
11. Musée des Cultures Guyanaises
This museum showcases the cultural diversity of French Guiana, highlighting the traditions, customs, and art of the different ethnic groups that call the region home. It’s a fascinating place to learn about the heritage of the local communities.
12. Place des Amandiers
Located near the Place des Palmistes, this square is known for its lively atmosphere and street performances. Enjoy live music, dance shows, and cultural events that often take place here, providing a glimpse into the vibrant arts scene of Cayenne.
13. Balata Church
Situated just outside of Cayenne, the Balata Church is a beautiful replica of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris. Surrounded by lush gardens and offering breathtaking views of the rainforest, this church is a must-visit for its stunning architecture and serene surroundings.
14. Centre Spatial Guyanais
If you have an interest in space exploration, don’t miss the chance to visit the Centre Spatial Guyanais. This spaceport, located near Kourou, is used by the European Space Agency for launching satellites. Guided tours offer insight into the fascinating world of space exploration.
15. Maroni River
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Take a boat excursion along the Maroni River, which forms part of the border between French Guiana and Suriname. Experience the lush rainforest, spot wildlife, and visit indigenous communities to learn about their way of life and traditional practices.
16. Saut Maripa
Embark on an adventure to Saut Maripa, a beautiful waterfall located in the heart of the rainforest. Trek through the dense jungle, witness the stunning cascade of water, and take a refreshing swim in the natural pools. It’s a true paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
17. Explore the Marais de Kaw-Roura
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This vast wetland area is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Take a guided boat tour through the marshes to observe numerous bird species, caimans, and other wildlife in their natural habitat. It’s an excellent opportunity for birdwatching and eco-tourism.
18. Taste Local Rum
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French Guiana is known for its rum production, and a visit to Cayenne is a chance to sample some of the region’s finest spirits. Visit distilleries and tasting rooms to learn about the rum-making process and indulge in a variety of flavors, including traditional agricole rum.
19. Attend Festivals and Events
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Cayenne hosts several vibrant festivals throughout the year, celebrating the region’s diverse cultural heritage. The Carnival in February is a lively and colorful event, featuring parades, music, dancing, and elaborate costumes. Check the local calendar to see if any festivals or events coincide with your visit.
20. La Piste Verte
Rent a bike and explore La Piste Verte, a scenic cycling path that winds through the outskirts of Cayenne. This paved trail takes you through lush greenery, offering a peaceful and enjoyable way to appreciate the natural beauty of the region.
21. Place de l’Indépendance
Located in the heart of Cayenne, this square is a central gathering place for locals and visitors alike. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, visit nearby shops and cafes, and admire the iconic clock tower that stands as a symbol of the city.
22. Montjoly Beach Reserve
If you’re interested in marine life and conservation, visit the Montjoly Beach Reserve. This protected area is home to nesting sea turtles, and you can take part in guided tours to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Learn about their conservation efforts and contribute to the preservation of these endangered species.
23. Saint-Sauveur Cathedral
Marvel at the beauty of the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, a magnificent church that showcases French colonial architecture. Step inside to admire the intricate details, stained glass windows, and serene atmosphere of this historic place of worship.
24. Visit Local Markets
In addition to the Marché de Cayenne, explore other local markets, such as the Marché de Rémire-Montjoly or the Marché de Cacao. These markets offer a glimpse into the daily lives of the locals, with stalls selling fresh produce, spices, crafts, and more. Engage in friendly conversations, try local delicacies, and immerse yourself in the vibrant market atmosphere.
25. La Colline de Montabo
Enjoy a scenic hike up La Colline de Montabo, a hill overlooking the city of Cayenne. The trail leads you through lush vegetation and rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views of the city, the coastline, and the surrounding natural landscapes. It’s an ideal spot to capture stunning photographs.
26. Taste Exotic Fruits
French Guiana is blessed with a variety of exotic fruits due to its tropical climate. Visit local fruit markets or street vendors to sample delicious fruits like guava, passion fruit, carambola (starfruit), and pitaya (dragon fruit). Indulge in the flavors of the region and discover new taste sensations.
27. Cultural Performances
Immerse yourself in the local arts scene by attending cultural performances in Cayenne. Experience traditional dances, music concerts, and theater shows that showcase the vibrant cultural heritage of French Guiana. Check local event listings or ask locals for recommendations.
28. Maison de la Nature et de l’Environnement
Visit the Maison de la Nature et de l’Environnement, a nature and environmental center that provides educational exhibits and information about the local ecosystems. Learn about the diverse flora and fauna of French Guiana, conservation efforts, and sustainable practices.
29. Les Hmong
Take a trip to the Hmong community in Cacao, a village near Cayenne. The Hmong people migrated from Southeast Asia and have preserved their cultural traditions and craftsmanship. Explore their traditional houses, learn about their way of life, and admire their vibrant textiles and intricate embroidery.
30. Try Creole Street Food
While in Cayenne, make sure to sample the delicious Creole street food. From bokit (a deep-fried bread filled with various ingredients) to accra (spicy fritters made from various ingredients), and crab cakes to grilled fish, the local street food scene offers a range of flavors to satisfy your taste buds.
31. Place du Coq
Visit the Place du Coq, another lively square in Cayenne known for its vibrant atmosphere and frequent cultural events. Check if there are any live performances, music festivals, or art exhibitions taking place during your visit, as this square often hosts such events.
32.Discover the Maroni River Communities
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The Maroni River is home to several indigenous and Maroon communities, each with its own unique culture and traditions. Consider arranging a guided tour to visit these communities, learn about their way of life, and engage in activities such as traditional craft workshops, storytelling, and culinary experiences.
33. Visit the Zoo de Guyane
Explore the Zoo de Guyane, a wildlife park dedicated to the preservation of the region’s native fauna. Discover various animal species, including jaguars, caimans, monkeys, and birds, and learn about their natural habitats and conservation efforts.
34. Enjoy a Sunset Cruise
End your day in Cayenne with a sunset cruise along the coastline. Watch as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the ocean. It’s a peaceful and romantic way to admire the beauty of the city and the natural surroundings.
35. La Médiathèque Territoriale de Guyane
If you’re interested in literature, art, or local history, pay a visit to the Médiathèque Territoriale de Guyane. This library and cultural center offers a wide range of books, exhibitions, and multimedia resources that delve into the rich cultural heritage of French Guiana.
36. Les Nouragues Nature Reserve
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Embark on a guided tour to the Les Nouragues Nature Reserve, located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. This protected area is known for its incredible biodiversity and offers opportunities for birdwatching, jungle hikes, and immersive wildlife experiences.
37. La Colline des Paresseux
Visit La Colline des Paresseux, also known as Sloth Mountain. This sanctuary provides a safe haven for rescued sloths, allowing you to observe these adorable creatures up close. Learn about their habits, conservation efforts, and contribute to their protection.
38. Le Comptoir Guyanais
Indulge in a culinary adventure at Le Comptoir Guyanais, a local market dedicated to promoting and selling traditional Guyanese products. Browse through stalls offering local spices, honey, chocolate, fruits, and more. It’s an excellent place to find unique souvenirs or gifts to take home.
39. Street Art in Cayenne
Wander through the streets of Cayenne and appreciate the vibrant street art adorning buildings and walls. The city has a thriving street art scene, with murals and graffiti that reflect the local culture, history, and social issues.
40. Les Chutes Voltaire
Discover the beauty of Les Chutes Voltaire, a stunning waterfall located in the depths of the rainforest. Trek through the lush jungle to reach the cascades, where you can swim in refreshing pools and marvel at the natural splendor around you.
41. Attend Local Festivals
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival_in_French_Guiana
Check the local calendar for festivals and cultural events happening during your visit. Festivals such as Fête de la Musique, Festival Guyane en Scène, or the Creole Carnival offer opportunities to celebrate and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, music, and traditions of French Guiana.
42. Fort Cépérou
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Explore the historical Fort Cépérou, perched on a hill overlooking Cayenne. This 18th-century fort offers panoramic views of the city and the coastline. Take a guided tour to learn about the fort’s history, its strategic importance, and the colonial past of French Guiana.
43. Musee Departemental Alexandre-Franconie
Immerse yourself in the art and history of French Guiana at the Musee Departemental Alexandre-Franconie. This museum houses a diverse collection of artifacts, artworks, and historical displays that provide insight into the cultural heritage of the region.
44. Les Roches Gravées de la Carapa
Journey to Les Roches Gravées de la Carapa, an archaeological site featuring ancient rock engravings. These prehistoric carvings offer a glimpse into the lives and beliefs of the indigenous peoples who inhabited the area thousands of years ago.
45. La Crique Gabriel
Explore La Crique Gabriel, a picturesque creek located near the village of Saint-Elie. This tranquil spot offers an opportunity for swimming, picnicking, and immersing yourself in the lush natural surroundings.
Places and Things To Do