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Published: February 27th 2018
Arrival in Fort-de-France
Our first time to Martinique and as we pulled alongside the pier the skyline was a mixture of modern hotel buildings and more traditional looking buildings rising up into the hills. Fort-de-France is the largest city on the island and is surrounded by steep green hills, although our tour guide today mentioned that Fort-de-France is not the capital - PARIS is their capital. Seems this island is an outpost of France !
The town was a mix of old and new buildings, some looked ready for demolition.There was a beautiful library, built for the 1889 Paris World Fair and shipped to the island piece by piece. An iron cathedral was another interesting looking building. The monument of Josephine, Napoleon's first wife had a tale to tell - a few years ago her head had been removed - we did not hear by whom but it seems it was never replaced as it was felt it would be removed again and again.
En route to the botanical gardens we stopped at the Sacre Coeur de Balata, built in 1925 the building is a replica (5th of the scale) of the famous cathedral in Paris. Due to the humidity
on the island the church has to be painted every 5 years. I think it was due for a facelift. Despite a misty sky we had a quite a good panoramic view of the bay below.
We soon arrived at our main location for the day, Jardin de Balata. This privately owned garden is the result of over 30 years labour by horticulturist Jean-Phillipe Thoze.
As we entered the property there was a small house so I couldn't resist taking PHOTS of the tropical flower arrangements scattered around the room. As we left the house, bright pink hanging bird feeders had attracted humming birds, to watch and listen to the birds singing was a delight.
Although we were visiting ad a group we could wander on our own, the pathways did however seem to have a one way system but it was easy to breakaway from the group and rejoin later.
The gardens were well laid out & as you wandered through the various sections there was so much to admire; Hibiscus, Bromeliads, Palms, Bamboo, Heliconia to name a few all with a wonderful backdrop of the mountains. Scattered throughout were wooden gazebos for anyone wanting
Replica - Sacre Coeur Paris
to rest awhile.
A couple of tranquil spots were the Fish pond & Japanese pond. These were very popular especially with the children looking out for the fish.
For those of us who were adventurous we headed for the treetop walkway. I managed to break away from the group so didn't have too long to wait as only 2 people were allowed on each of the suspended bridges at a time. I also decided to let a couple of French children go ahead of me as I had a concern they might find it amusing to rock & sway the bridge with me on it ! Thankfully they were well behaved so my treetop walk went without any hitch and I was able to take some good photos of the experience.
There was plenty of time after the treetop walk to savour more of the beautiful surroundings.One tree fascinated me with its very unusual pink flowers, which I have since learnt the common name is Shaving Brush Tree. As I stood and admired the tree several humming birds perched on the branches and obtained the nectar, it was quite magical.
David had certainly missed a lovely
Beautiful library in Fort-de-France
place, but better he stayed onboard & rest his foot to help the healing process, not quite the same but hopefully my photographs will bring the Balata gardens to you & him.
As we returned to the ship, a couple of Iguana's were basking on the rocks, it appears they escaped from a local zoo and it was decided not to recapture them. Great news I thought.
It's time now to sort through all the photographs.
Tomorrow we arrive in Barbados & have a full day & overnight stop. I'm looking forward to going on a Barbados Photo Adventure! Organised by the ship we will explore Barbados with a top local photographer so that's my birthday treat from David.
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