Fort-de-France is the capital city of Martinique, an overseas territory of France in the Caribbean. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty, Fort-de-France offers a wide range of experiences for visitors. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in the city:
1. Schoelcher Library
Start your exploration of Fort-de-France with a visit to the Schoelcher Library. This magnificent library, named after the abolitionist Victor Schoelcher, is a beautiful example of 19th-century architecture. It houses a vast collection of books and is an important cultural and historical landmark.
2. Fort Saint Louis
Perched on a hill overlooking the city, Fort Saint Louis is a must-visit attraction. This historical fort was built in the 17th century and played a significant role in Martinique’s history. Take a guided tour to learn about its fascinating past and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Caribbean Sea
3. St. Louis Cathedral
Explore Fort-de-France’s religious heritage by visiting the St. Louis Cathedral. This impressive Romanesque-Byzantine-style cathedral is the seat of the archbishop of Martinique. Admire the stunning architecture, intricate stained glass windows, and the peaceful ambiance of this important religious landmark.
4. Spice Market
Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and aromas of Martinique at the Spice Market. Located near the waterfront, this bustling market offers an array of local spices, fruits, vegetables, and other products. It’s a great place to sample delicious tropical fruits or buy spices to take home as souvenirs.
5. Anse Mitan
Just a short boat ride away from Fort-de-France, you’ll find Anse Mitan, a beautiful beach on the western coast of Martinique. Relax on the golden sands, swim in the crystal-clear waters, or try your hand at various water sports such as snorkeling or jet skiing. The beach is lined with restaurants and bars, allowing you to indulge in delicious local cuisine.
6. Jardin de Balata
Nature enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Jardin de Balata, a stunning botanical garden located a few kilometers north of Fort-de-France. Explore the lush tropical vegetation, admire exotic flowers, and walk along suspended bridges for a unique perspective of the surroundings. The garden is a tranquil oasis, perfect for a peaceful retreat.
7. Fort-de-France Bay
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Take a boat tour of Fort-de-France Bay to appreciate the city’s coastline from a different perspective. Marvel at the panoramic views of the city, the lush mountains, and the azure waters of the bay. Some tours even include snorkeling stops or visits to nearby islands.
8. Martinique Historical Museum
Delve into the history and culture of Martinique at the Martinique Historical Museum. Housed in a former 19th-century sugar factory, the museum showcases artifacts, exhibitions, and interactive displays that highlight the island’s past. It’s a great place to learn about Martinique’s colonial history, the sugar industry, and the impact of slavery.
9. Sample Local Cuisine
No visit to Fort-de-France is complete without savoring the local cuisine. Indulge in delicious Creole dishes such as accras (fried cod fritters), boudin (blood sausage), or colombo (spiced meat stew). Head to the Grand Marché, the central market, to find a wide variety of fresh produce, spices, and local delicacies.
10. La Pagerie Museum
Visit La Pagerie, the birthplace of Empress Josephine, which has been transformed into a museum. Explore the exhibits that showcase her life and learn about her influential role in French history. The museum also features beautiful gardens where you can take a leisurely stroll.
11. Climb Mount Pelée
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Embark on an adventurous hike up Mount Pelée, an active volcano located on the northern end of Martinique. While the climb can be challenging, the rewarding views from the summit and the unique geological features make it a worthwhile experience for nature lovers and hikers.
12. Explore the Diamond Rock
Take a boat excursion to Diamond Rock, a distinctive rock formation located off the southern coast of Martinique. This former British fortress has a fascinating history and is now a popular spot for snorkeling and diving due to its vibrant underwater ecosystem.
13. Le Diamant Beach
Enjoy a relaxing day at Le Diamant Beach, one of Martinique’s most picturesque beaches. With its golden sand, clear turquoise waters, and stunning views of Diamond Rock, it’s an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. There are also local eateries where you can savor delicious seafood.
14. Visit the Aimé Césaire Museum
Pay a visit to the Aimé Césaire Museum, dedicated to the life and work of the influential Martinican poet, philosopher, and politician. The museum provides insights into the cultural and intellectual heritage of the island and showcases Césaire’s literary contributions.
15. Enjoy Carnival
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If you happen to visit Fort-de-France during the Carnival season (usually February or March), don’t miss the opportunity to witness the vibrant and energetic celebrations. Join in the parades, admire the colorful costumes, and immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere of this important cultural event.
16. Discover Les Trois-Ilets
Just a short ferry ride away from Fort-de-France, you’ll find Les Trois-Ilets, a charming town with a rich history. Explore the colonial architecture, visit the Pagerie Estate (former plantation of Empress Josephine), and enjoy the beautiful beaches and waterfront dining options.
17. Sail around the Coastline
Rent a boat or join a sailing tour to explore the stunning coastline of Martinique. Sail along the turquoise waters, discover hidden coves, and enjoy breathtaking views of the lush landscapes. It’s a fantastic way to appreciate the natural beauty of the island.
18. Indulge in Rum Tasting
Martinique is renowned for its production of high-quality rum. Visit one of the distilleries on the island, such as the famous Habitation Clément, to learn about the rum-making process and sample different varieties of this Caribbean spirit.
19. La Batelière
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Visit La Batelière, a picturesque beachfront area in Fort-de-France. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the promenade, relax on the sandy shores, or indulge in water sports such as paddleboarding and kayaking. The area is also home to several restaurants and cafes where you can savor delicious seafood dishes while enjoying the sea breeze.
20. Le Sacré-Cœur de Balata
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Explore the Sacré-Cœur de Balata, a replica of the famous Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris. This stunning white church is nestled in the hills of Fort-de-France and offers breathtaking views of the city below. The intricate architecture and serene surroundings make it a peaceful place to visit.
21. Mangrove Exploration
Take a boat tour or kayak through the mangroves near Fort-de-France. Discover the unique ecosystem of these coastal forests, observe diverse bird species, and learn about the importance of mangroves in preserving the marine environment. It’s a fascinating and educational experience for nature enthusiasts.
22. Carbet Waterfalls
Venture outside of Fort-de-France to the nearby town of Le Carbet, where you’ll find the Carbet Waterfalls. This series of cascading waterfalls is set amidst lush greenery, creating a picturesque natural setting. Hike through the trails and enjoy the refreshing spray of the falls as you immerse yourself in the beauty of Martinique’s tropical landscape.
23. Les Salines Beach
Take a day trip to Les Salines Beach, located on the southern tip of Martinique. This pristine white sand beach is surrounded by palm trees and offers stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Relax under the sun, swim in the calm turquoise waters, or simply soak up the tranquil ambiance of this idyllic spot.
24. Try Local Cuisine at Le Grand Marché
Visit Le Grand Marché, Fort-de-France’s central market, to experience the vibrant flavors of Martinique. Browse through stalls selling fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and local delicacies. Don’t miss the chance to try traditional dishes like accras (fried codfish fritters) or a hearty plate of colombo, a popular Creole curry.
25. Museum of Rum
Delve into the history and production of rum at the Museum of Rum (Musée du Rhum). Learn about the island’s rum-making traditions, discover the different stages of rum production, and sample a variety of rum brands. The museum offers an insightful journey into the culture and heritage of Martinique’s beloved spirit.
26. Les Gorges de la Falaise
Explore Les Gorges de la Falaise, a natural wonder located near Fort-de-France. This stunning canyon features cascading waterfalls, lush vegetation, and sparkling pools. Hike through the trails, swim in the crystal-clear waters, and marvel at the beauty of this hidden gem.
27. Fort-de-France Market
Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Fort-de-France Market (Marché de Fort-de-France). Browse through a wide array of stalls selling local crafts, artwork, clothing, and fresh produce. Engage with local vendors, sample tropical fruits, and find unique souvenirs to take home.
28. Sunset Cruise
End your day in Fort-de-France with a relaxing sunset cruise along the coastline. Enjoy panoramic views of the city’s skyline as the sun sets over the Caribbean Sea. Some cruises may offer dinner or live music, providing a memorable and romantic experience.
29. La Route de la Trace
Take a scenic drive along La Route de la Trace, a picturesque road that winds through the lush rainforest of Martinique. Enjoy breathtaking views, make stops at viewpoints, and visit attractions such as the Maison de la Forêt (House of the Forest) to learn about the island’s flora and fauna.
30. La Favorite Distillery
Explore the La Favorite Distillery, a historic rum distillery located near Fort-de-France. Take a guided tour to learn about the rum-making process, visit the aging cellars, and sample the distillery’s premium rums. It’s a great opportunity to deepen your knowledge of Martinique’s rum culture.
31. Les Fonds Blancs
Embark on a boat tour to Les Fonds Blancs, a collection of small white sandbars surrounded by clear, shallow waters. This natural wonder is perfect for snorkeling, swimming, and enjoying a relaxing day on the water. The boat tours often include a stop for a delicious seafood lunch.
32. Habitation Clément
Visit Habitation Clément, a historic plantation turned cultural center. Explore the beautiful gardens, art galleries, and the restored rum distillery. The estate also hosts cultural events and exhibitions, providing insights into the island’s history and contemporary art scene.
33. Museum of Pre-Colombian Archaeology and Prehistory
Discover the island’s indigenous heritage at the Museum of Pre-Colombian Archaeology and Prehistory. The museum showcases artifacts, pottery, and tools from the island’s early inhabitants, shedding light on Martinique’s rich pre-Columbian history.
34. Fort-de-France Waterfront
Stroll along the Fort-de-France waterfront, known as La Promenade. Enjoy the scenic views of the bay, shop for souvenirs and local crafts at the artisan markets, or relax at one of the waterfront cafes. The area comes alive in the evenings with live music and cultural performances.
35. Local Festivals
Check the calendar for local festivals and events happening in Fort-de-France during your visit. The city hosts a variety of cultural and musical festivals throughout the year, offering an opportunity to experience Martinique’s vibrant culture, music, and dance traditions.
36. People-Watching at Place de la Savane
Spend some time people-watching at Place de la Savane, a central square in Fort-de-France. Grab a seat on a park bench, sip on a cup of coffee, and observe the lively atmosphere as locals go about their daily routines. It’s a great spot to soak up the city’s vibrant energy.
37. La Savane des Esclaves
Visit La Savane des Esclaves, an open-air museum that provides insights into the history and culture of Martinique’s Afro-Caribbean heritage. Explore the recreated traditional village, learn about traditional medicinal plants, and discover the daily life of enslaved people through exhibits and demonstrations.
38. La Pagerie Botanical Garden
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Take a leisurely stroll through La Pagerie Botanical Garden, a beautiful garden located near the birthplace of Empress Josephine. Discover a variety of tropical plants, including exotic flowers, palm trees, and fruit-bearing trees. Enjoy the serene ambiance and learn about the island’s rich botanical heritage.
39. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Explore the underwater world of Martinique by engaging in scuba diving or snorkeling activities. Discover vibrant coral reefs, tropical fish, and other marine life. Several dive centers and snorkeling tours are available in Fort-de-France and nearby areas.
40. Les Anses d’Arlet
Take a short drive from Fort-de-France to Les Anses d’Arlet, a charming coastal village with beautiful beaches. Relax on the sandy shores, go snorkeling to explore the underwater world, or indulge in freshly caught seafood at waterfront restaurants.
41. Fort Gerbault
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Visit Fort Gerbault, another historical fort located on the outskirts of Fort-de-France. Built in the 19th century, this fort offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding landscape. Explore the fort’s grounds and learn about its strategic role in Martinique’s history.
42. Kayaking in the Mangroves
Rent a kayak and embark on a peaceful journey through the mangroves surrounding Fort-de-France. Paddle through narrow waterways, observe the unique ecosystem, and spot birds and other wildlife. It’s a serene and immersive way to explore the natural beauty of the region.
43. Cultural Performances
Experience the vibrant local culture by attending cultural performances and live music events. Check local listings for concerts, traditional dance performances, or theatrical shows happening in Fort-de-France. Immerse yourself in the rhythms, melodies, and dances that showcase the richness of Martinique’s cultural heritage.
Places and Things To Do