Our Visit to Martinique

Published: June 19th 2011
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Another fortAnother fortAnother fort

Every city seems to have a fort – this is the one in Fort du France.
Fortunately for us while we were in Martinique our friends on Snowbird were also there. We decided to share a rental car and do some exploring. High on Martin’s list of places to see were some rum distilleries and that sounded interesting to us as well. After picking up the car we headed off to the Pottery Village. This is where the tiles are made for the roofs that we saw in Trois Ilets. We understand that they are also used in Grenada so hopefully we will see those when we get there. The red clay used for the manufacture of the roof tiles is also turned into utilitarian objects such as mugs and plates and creative home decorations. The village contained many other shops as well which were interesting to visit, but we decided we needed to keep moving to get to a few of the distilleries. Lunch time was calling so we picked up some provisions at a small grocery store and stopped along the water front to have a picnic. This is definitely the way to travel!

Trois Rivieres Plantation was the first distillery we stopped at. This was set up more as a museum than a
The entrance to the cityThe entrance to the cityThe entrance to the city

The ferry from Trois Ilets comes in to Fort du France not far from the fort. It is an impressive entrance.
running distillery. They had excellent signage of the various steps in the process of making rum, but unfortunately did not have any guides that spoke English so it was self-guided. We all agreed that we would rather see a working distillery so moved on to LaMauny Distillery. The first challenge was finding it, but with only a couple of stops to ask directions (thankfully Johanna knows some French) we found the place. This distillery has been making rum since 1749 and currently produces about 4 million liters per year. Fortunately for us they had a guide that spoke English, however as she said sometimes she would need help with the English word (she sure didn’t need much help) This meant that the 4 of us had our own private tour which allowed us to ask as many questions as we wanted. She gave us a very complete tour starting right off with the delivery of the sugar cane, testing it in the lab for quality, through the crushing process, fermentation, distillation and on to tasting. All of us definitely felt the burn when we tested the 75 proof sample. Luckily they only sell up to 62 proof; otherwise everyone would
The water frontThe water frontThe water front

The colors used on the buildings add to the look of the water front.
be on fire in Martinique! This definitely made for a fun day seeing a little more of Martinique, learning how they make rum and spending the day with Martin and Johanna.

Fort du France is the capital of Martinique and was only a ferry ride away so the next day we took a ride over from Trois Ilets. We had heard mixed reviews about the city, but figured we’d see for ourselves. We explored the craft market, the fruit and veggie market, the very modern shopping mall, walked through the Cathedral, saw the impressive library built of metal in France and shipped here, did some wi-fi as we couldn’t get any on the boat and just hoofed around town. It was an enjoyable way to spend the day.

The next day we decided we better get some work done on the boat as we planned on leaving soon. Sewing projects always seem to build up so got the sewing machine out and got a couple of things done. Janice worked on the next few courtesy flags that we need (Trinidad and Grenada) while Bob sewed a sun shade for the front hatch on the boat. It is always
An impressiive libraryAn impressiive libraryAn impressiive library

The Schoelcher Library was built of metal in France in 1889 by Gustav Eifel (of Eifel Tower fame) and was shipped piece by piece to Martinique and re-assemblied. It is a momument to slavery abolitionist Victor Schoelcher and is still used as a library today.
good to get a couple of things crossed off the “to do” list, but we seem to always add more. We are finding out that retirement doesn’t stop that process at all. We have to stop exploring at times and get to the items on the lists before it gets too long to manage. Always a balancing act, just like before retirement!

We definitely enjoyed our visit to Martinique and can see ourselves coming back to explore more of this country.

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


Quite a libraryQuite a library
Quite a library

A close up of the library. We heard that it was first on exhibit at the Paris World’s Fair before being shipped to Martinique.
A modern mallA modern mall
A modern mall

There was a modern shopping mall right in the middle of Fort du France. Even though we didn’t need anything, for a few minutes it was nice to cool down as it was air conditioned.
Lunch with a viewLunch with a view
Lunch with a view

We found this pizza place also had free wi-fi so this was the place for lunch. It had a nice view overlooking a square near the shopping mall.
Love those shuttersLove those shutters
Love those shutters

We were taken with the wooden shutters on this place.
Government BuildingGovernment Building
Government Building

An impressive entrance to the government buildings
An inviting walkwayAn inviting walkway
An inviting walkway

A pleasant walkway with various benches and small kiosks for vendors not far from the waterfront in Fort du France. The mosaics a nice touch.
Fort du France CathedralFort du France Cathedral
Fort du France Cathedral

Built in 1671, the Cathedral in Fort du France did not escape numerous disasters of fire, earthquakes, and hurricanes. As a result the current building was almost entirely rebuilt in 1978 in its version that existed at the end of the 19th century.
The Cathedral InteriorThe Cathedral Interior
The Cathedral Interior

It is hard to believe that this magnificient interior is made of metal.
The detailThe detail
The detail

The Cathedral is built almost entirely of metal, but we did notice some of the details were done in wood.
KFC is everywhereKFC is everywhere
KFC is everywhere

KFC is everywhere! It definitely does not fit into the scenery here any better than anywhere else.
Traditional DressTraditional Dress
Traditional Dress

This plaid is considered part of their traditional dress in Martinique.
Graeat head dressGraeat head dress
Graeat head dress

Notice this vendor is wearing a traditional head piece.
The MarketThe Market
The Market

The market in Fort du France is covered which helps as we have been having quite a few rainstorms lately. This one is open every day and was a fun place to shop for produce
Fruit Anyone?Fruit Anyone?
Fruit Anyone?

The colors in the market make everything look so inviting.
Bananas anyone? Bananas anyone?
Bananas anyone?

Are they bananas, plantains, dessert figs or something else? Check with the vendor to be sure
Welcome to Trois IletsWelcome to Trois Ilets
Welcome to Trois Ilets

This is the view of Trois Ilets that you see when you return by ferry.
Always Sewing ProjectsAlways Sewing Projects
Always Sewing Projects

Sewing projects abound. Janice is working on flags and Bob is sewing a sun shade for over the forward hatch.
The finished projectThe finished project
The finished project

Here is the finished sun shade. Hopefully it will be helpful in the rain as well so we can keep the hatch open.

19th June 2011

Like to join you...
Dear Janice and Bob, I'm following your great journey with growing excitement. Your Blog on Martinique makes me want to join you. It's not because of the destilleries alone, the whole place seems to be wonderful to live. It is so good that you add many fotos which give a vivid impression of the country, architecture and the people and your fotos are excellent. Wish you always good winds. Love, Achim Freiburg, 19.June 2011
22nd June 2011

hello again
WOW!!! the architecture is absolutely stunning, and add in the colorful dress and fruits at the market and it is a real buffet for the senses. I love looking at the ports, marinas, or harbors, whatever they are called. The look so peaceful and clean,..makes me miss our boat more. There have been a few low depressions reported in the Atlantic,...hope you are in a good place for now. I'm guessing that since your boat is going to rest in Trinidad...you will be returning there and continuing on your quest...just remember...there is NO safe distance from Somalia!!!! You think I am obsessing about pirates??? YES I AM...get used to it. LOL Didn't know that sewing was part of your many talents...guess it is just "building",...just different materials and different tools. You finished product looks good and quite functional. Let me know how it works the next time it rains. ;o) And for the flags...when we owned the Maxum, I always wanted to make a quilt out of the naval flags,...but never got around to it. Sorry I didn't do that. Are you going to fly them or display them,...or actually use them to send messages? They are so colorful,...however, have to admit that if I saw one hoisted up someone's mast...I would have to refer to my card to see what the message was. [memory goes first or second...can't remember...;o) ] Well, take care and safe sailing. Looking forward to seeing you. Have you found a place to stay or are you going to consider the RV? Always remember,...the offer was for real. We are going for short trip to the Salamanca area...then nothing until Sept...when I want to return to the Maine shore. Take care, hope Janice's cold is in remission, and safe sailing...love ya, cyndie

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