Fort-de-France is the capital of Martinique and the main port for Martinique. The center is laid out alongside Place de la Savane, (the city park) where most of the town’s main events take place.
It is also the home of a statue of Napoleon’s Empress Josephine, an island native. The statue is decapitated. Yup, you read that right…it has no head! She was not well liked and the statue has been vandalized so often in protest of her influence in preserving the slave trade on Martinique that the city has stopped attempting repairs, and she remains headless.
We arrived just in time for the “Madin ‘GOSPEL FESTIVAL 2018”. Every year Martinique, more precisely Fort-de-France, vibrates to the rhythm of gospel music. The festival has become one of the unmissable events for gospel lovers: artists from all over the world perform during three days of festivity. This had to be one of the loudest events that we have ever heard while at anchor in a harbor and we`ve even anchored in Montego Bay, front and center during Sumfest. (Talk about a loud jam…that party did not even start until after midnight!) The headliners for the gospel concert were actually pretty good and a big crowd showed up however the filler singers and bands were just plain loud! Needlessly to say we were thankful when Monday came around and they were breaking the stage down announcing that they were done!
The town itself is pretty cool. It is a typical cruise ship town with lots of shops filled with the same souvenirs that you find in most, only with “Martinique” printed on them this time. Lots of clothing, jewelry and perfume stores too. It sort of reminds us of Saint Thomas, USVI. Many of the houses here are similar to the French Quarter in New Orleans, with narrow streets, ironwork and high porches with plantings of all kinds.
There are a couple of good grocery stores for stocking up on things that might be hard to find or expensive on nearby islands. Cheeses, olives, oilve oils and vinegars, wines and various snacks. There is also a open air market in the center of town that is a treat to all of your senses.
The minute you enter the market the smell of the spices can be almost overwhelming. The vendors have vegetables, herbs and plant branches for sale, for who knows what and of course every souvenir that one could possibly think of. The vendors that we tried to talk to did not speak English and our French is not good enough but we would of loved to know more about some of the odd things that they were selling.
We were anchored near the public beach and found out that this city likes to exercise on and in the water! Every morning starting before the crack of dawn yes, in the dark the locals start swimming and exercising. In the dark they swim, in dark, black water! There was even an exercise class that brought out stationary bikes and put them in about four feet of water, set up a speaker and had their class riding the bikes in the water. That was a first for us. But no worries we were wide awake to see all of these morning rituals because the town’s church rang its bells like crazy at 6 AM give or take 15 minutes every morning and if you were able to sleep through that it had a follow up which we fondly called the “snooze alarm” that would make sure that you were wide awake. This was charming…if you did not drink too much rum the night before 🙂
Fort de France is a great town to visit but was definitely busier than most we’ve been to recently. Our boats documentation was recently renewed and it was a perfect place to have it shipped to. It went on it’s own journey to get here. It started out in Green Cove Springs, Fl then off to Jacksonville, FL, Alanta, GA, Cincinnati, OH, Miami, FL, Panama City, Pamama, Maiquetia, Venezuela, Port of Spain, Trinidad then finally arriving at Fort de France, Martinique. Thankfully to DHL we received it as planned. So now with that out of the way we are free to leave this bustling city and head out to new adventures.
First stop for us was only about 3 miles away but a nice calm anchorage off of a pretty beach at the small beachside town of Anse-à-l’Ane. That is where we are anchored now and being a Friday night, while sitting on the boat we are listening to a local band from shore that is actually quite good. They have almost a Cuban flair. Exploring the area tomorrow and always we’ll take lots of pics. Take care for now. Miss you all!
Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon