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Vacation on one of the Caribbean islands is a dream that it is easier and easier to fulfill these days. White sand, blue sky, and crystal clear water tempt us all the year. But when it comes to making a decision which island to choose, we might be confused with the number of possibilities. Even if you decide to choose only one region or country, there is still a question – which island should I choose?

Spending holidays in the French Antilles is a wonderful idea, especially if you are the European Union citizen. But if you cannot decide which one of the wonderful islands to choose – Guadeloupe or Martinique – let me help you! I have spent one month on each of them so I am going to do my best to show you all the pros and cons of those small spots of paradise.

Guadeloupe or Martinique: main similarities

In general, we can say that Guadeloupe and Martinique are very similar to each other. Both lay in the Eastern Caribbean part called the Lesser Antilles. Also, both of them are French overseas departments. And that makes them easily accessible for European citizens.

Because of this fact, they also share some other formal similarities:

Language: French & Antillean Creole
Currency: Euro
Entrance/Visas for EU citizens: ID card or passport (non-Schengen area); unlimited stay
Entrance/Visas for USA citizens: passport and return ticket (no visa required); 90 days stay

Both islands represent a very similar culture. Whatever you will choose, Guadeloupe or Martinique, you will be able to enjoy the sun, beaches, and jungle in genuinely way. And for sure you will have a perfect vacation.

But in fact, there are some small differences, which you might take into consideration while finding the answer to how to choose the best island.

How to get to Guadeloupe or Martinique?

Most of the airlines offering flights to the French Antilles operates on both islands: the Pointe-à-Pitre airport in Guadeloupe and the Aimé Césaire Airport in Martinique (Fort-de-France).

The most popular departure airport in Europe is Paris Orly, and in USA – Miami. But you can also reach the islands from many other places. Try your most suitable airport with the flight search engine below.

The islands’ vibes

The main thing that you should know about the French Antilles is that each island has its own kind of atmosphere. Martinique is considered a bit more tranquil and mostly covered by small towns inhabited by local people leading their relaxed Caribbean lives.

But on the other hand, most of the tourists coming to Martinique look for a peaceful place to rest and spend a few days in calm surroundings. The best word describing the touristic side of Martinique is the resort.

Guadeloupe seems to be a more lively island. It is also bigger than Martinique, so the urban infrastructure is a bit wider. Also, it is better known for its’ nightlife which according to many locals is greater than on the other islands.

Read more: Go through the ultimate guide to Guadeloupe.

Nevertheless, there is one similarity common for each island. In my opinion, the best town to stay in both of them is Sainte-Anne. I was living in Saint-Anne in Guadeloupe and found this city the most convenient for a living – it was charming and peaceful, and at the same time, it had gorgeous beaches, markets, and nice bus connections with other towns.

In Martinique, the city of Sainte-Anne was also truly lovely. It also had all the necessities, like shops and restaurants, and the beach was delightful.

Wanna know the costs of living in the Caribbean?

I’ve been traveling for two months in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Now I want to share the summary of all of the trip costs with you!

  • Flight tickets and transport
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Activities
  • And more!
Nature, attractions, and activities

You will for sure enjoy the nature and vacation activities like lying on the beach, water sports, trekkings, etc. on both islands. No matter if you will choose Guadeloupe or Martinique, you will still have the opportunity to take trekking in the jungle, climb the volcano, snorkel, find hidden waterfalls, visit rum distillery, and do even more.

But each island has also its own gems which will enrich your holiday time with unique experiences. Below, I listed for you some best of them.

GuadeloupeMartinique
Climbing the volcano La SoufrièreClimbing the volcano Mount Pelée
Deshaies Botanical GardenBalata Botanical Garden
Discover Carbet WaterfallsDiscover Didier Waterfall
Visit Pointe-à-Pitre with Mémorial ACTeVisit Fort-de-France and its fortress
Enjoy the Coffee MuseumEnjoy the rum distillery
Wander to the Pointe-des-ChateauxWander in La Savane des Pétrifications
Explore the Costumes and Traditions MuseumExplore La Savane des Esclaves

As you can see, there is plenty of unique activities to try on both islands. Whatever you will choose, you will have massive possibilities to fulfill your time with attractions.

But there is another thing to consider before making your choice. Martinique is a mostly mountainous island, and it’s in general one piece of land. And Guadeloupe is a bit more diversified. In fact, it consists of two bigger lands – Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre – where the first one is rather flat and covered by fields, while the other one is mountainous and sunken in the jungle. Moreover, around Guadeloupe there is a few smaller islands spreaded around which are perfect tourist destinations. So cruises and sailing trips are common attractions on this island.

Transportation

The other important aspect of choosing the right island for you is transportation. The public ways of transportation might be quite confusing at the beginning.

When it comes to buses, I liked much more the connections in Guadeloupe. In Grande-Terre, they were connecting the major cities with one continuous line. In Martinique, the opposite: there were many short-distances lines, that most were even not connected with the island capital, which was a bit inconvenient. So to get to your desired point you needed to use taxi collectif.

So, in general, I recommend renting a car while visiting both islands if your stay is not too long. You will simply save your time on reaching the attractions. And moreover, some of the best spots on both islands are impossible to reach with a bus.

You can also try hitchhiking which is great fun, cause local people, and tourists as well, gladly invite hitchhikers to share the road with them.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the transport in Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Guadeloupe or Martinique: which one to choose?

The final decision is your individual choice. Each island has its own wonderful gems, but in fact, no matter which one you will choose, Guadeloupe or Martinique, you will still be happy with your exotic, yet still a bit European vacation.

And actually, there is an option to find a compromise. Between both islands you can find a few airline connections and sea ferries cruising between islands, so why not combine visiting both of them? This alternative is perfect for longer stays, so you will be able to see as many wonders as possible.

So what is your choice? Do you prefer visiting Guadeloupe or Martinique? Comment below!

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The post Guadeloupe or Martinique: tips to choose the perfect island for holidays appeared first on Sunday in Wonderland.

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The Caribbean islands are perfect for growing some species of popular cultivated plants. The most obvious that you can think of are sugar cane, coconuts, or bananas. But there are a few others which might enchant your senses in the coffee museum in Guadeloupe.

Agriculturists on the island still cultivate the coffee and cocoa as well. While traveling in Guadeloupe you will have an opportunity to discover one of the coffee plantations or museums. And if it comes to cocoa, the Guadeloupian chocolate made of it tastes simply delicious!

Read more: The list of 16 foods, sweets and drinks that you must try in the French Antilles.

Cocoa fruits. Yes, we’ll be talking about it too!
The short history of coffee

You might hear the legend coming from the mountains of Yemen. It tells the story of a herder named Kaldi. One day, while grazing goats on the mountainsides, he noticed that his animals were acting kind of unnatural. He also figured out, that the animals ate red fruits of a bush which was growing nearby.

And this is how the legend of a stimulating plant begins in the mountains of Yemen.

Nowadays, the historians claim, that the first traces of coffee consuming comes from Ethiopia and Yemen of the IX century. But with the evolution of the world’s trade and discovers, the coffee beans arrived as far as the Caribbean.

The Guadeloupian coffee

The idea of cultivating coffee in the Antilles appeared in French heads in XVIII century. In the year 1730, a governor of Guadeloupe sowed the first seeds of Arabica coffee. The growing conditions on the island were perfect. This fact caused the increase of coffee transportation from the Antilles to continental France.

Even today, you can visit a few coffee plantations on the island. You can choose for instance among La Grivelière or Domaine de Vanibel. So if you wish to learn even more about this particular plant, you can visit the Coffee Museum in Guadeloupe (fr. Le Musée du Café) owned by a coffee producer – Café Chaulet.

The building of the Coffee Museum with the coffee drying on the trays below terrace. The Coffee Museum in Guadeloupe

Café Chaulet Coffee Museum in Guadeloupe is the one that we visited while renting a car on the island since the public transport in its area is not easily predictable. We found it in the Western Side of the Basse-Terre region, in a city of Vieux-Habitants. Even if the area is not too big, it is surely worth visiting. For the price of 5€, we will get the opportunity to investigate the detailed history of the coffee in Guadeloupe as well as in the rest of the world.

Wanna know the costs of living in the Caribbean?

I’ve been traveling for two months in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Now I want to share the summary of all of the trip costs with you!

  • Flight tickets and transport
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Activities
  • And more!

In the museum buildings, we can dive into the story of coffee. From the informative boards (unfortunately, only in French) we will learn more about its characteristics, the production methods and other diverse interesting facts.

We can explore the old tools which served to produce coffee beans, as well as modern machines which are used nowadays. However, one of the most charming exhibition is a room filled with coffee makers and utensils which were used in different countries over the years.

How the coffee from Guadeloupe is produced?

When the coffee plants are ready to harvest, a team of people comes to the plantation. They harvest coffee fruits by hand to ensure their best quality. The same evening the fruits land in a mill which divides the soft part of fruit from a bean which leads them to the wet method of coffee production.

When the beans are separated, they need to pass through the process of fermentation. This ensures the extractions of their taste. After that, the plantation’s employees wash beans and dry them the in sun. After this whole process, they can be distributed to the coffee roasters. In the end, aromatic beans reach the coffee lovers.

Coffee beans in a different productions stages. From the left: unprocessed beans, beans without the external soft part, dried beans, roasted beans, grinded coffee.
Interesting facts from the Coffee Museum in Guadeloupe:
  • Coffee plant tree gives fruits ready to harvest after 5 years and it lives an average of 70 years.
  • Coffee plant tree usually grows in the company of other plants, such as cacao tree or a banana tree, which protect the coffee bush from too big sun exposure.
  • A yearly harvest from a one coffee plant gives around 50 cups of coffee.
  • People n the whole world consumes around 1 400 000 000 cups of coffee each day.
  • Long ago, when pickers on the plantation missed some fruits on the bushes, local rodents were coming and eating leftovers. Mice and rats ate the soft part of a fruit, and seed fell down on the ground. Children were collecting those seeds to transform them into a “rat coffee”.
The cocoa history

Coffee production facts are only one part of the knowledge that we can gather in the Coffee Museum in Guadeloupe. This place can teach us a bit about cocoa too.

Cocoa appeared in Europe for the first time, when Spanish brought it to the continent in the XVI century. In France, it was the Queen Anne of Austria who launched the tradition of drinking cocoa mixture on the French court. Since then, preparing this drink became considered as a luxury elite’s ritual.

In 1674, English created the first chocolate pudding by adding some eggs and milk. Coenraad Van Houten, a Dutch pastry chef, in 1829, invented the machine which allowed him to separate a cocoa powder from butter. After that, the first chocolate bar was born in 1869.

The aromatic degustation

After an inspiring visit to the exhibition interiors, we can enjoy a degustation of local coffee or cocoa (included in the museum ticket price). The taste of fresh cocoa is amazing and totally different from the cocoa powder’s taste that we can try in continental Europe. So for me, a refreshing and lively aroma was a pleasant surprise. We end our visit in the museum’s souvenir shop, where we can buy some Café Chaulet and bring it home.

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When I think about Martinique, a beautiful Caribbean island, I can see hills covered by dense greenery. I imagine a jungle hiding wonders such as Didier Waterfall. I also remind tourists swimming in circles in Dufour beach and looking for huge serene turtles. This is how Martinique looks like.

But I would never imagine that on this island I will find such a different landscape. I mean La Savane des Pétrifications, an amazing semi-desert wildlife park in the South of Martinique. This place is very high on my list of best things to do in Martinique. So let’s dive in this other world!

La Savane des Pétrifications – how to get there?

La Savane des Pétrifications is located at the Southern end of Martinique. Just next to the beautiful beach Grande Anse des Salines. It is easy to find the way: you must simply follow the main road until you get to Grande Anse des Salines, and then follow it as far as you can until you will reach a place to park your car.

If you choose to use public transport, there is a bus that goes from Sainte-Anne to Salines. You can also try hitchhiking, which is very effective in Martinique. From the beach, you will be able to get to Savane des Pétrifications just in a few minutes by feet.

Etang des Salines

On your way between Grande Anse des Salines and Savane des Pétrifications, you will find a huge salt lake which is called Etang des Salines. It is also a natural reserve for plenty of animals. Crabs, herons, fish, you can observe there all of them.

On the lake, we can enjoy a walk on a long pier, built especially for tourists and nature lovers. In its center, we can find some informative boards with educative curiosities about local residents and their environment. The pier in this section is covered with a wooden wall, which allows us to hide from the birds’ sight and watch them in their natural surroundings.

La Savane des Pétrifications

Once you will be already satisfied with watching the herons, you can continue your walk until you will reach your destinations – La Savane des Pétrifications.

The journey begins in a forest on the beach, filled with amazing trees and plants. Enjoy this walks in the shadow because soon you will miss it a lot in a while.

The official trail starts with a small yet exciting challenge. We could enter the savannah territory only by crossing the bridge above the stream that flew from Etang des Salines to the sea. But to get to the bridge, we needed to jump on stones. Unfortunately for us, when we came there, the water level was so high, that the stones were almost totally under its surface. So we had no other option than get to the bridge by wanding in the water to the thighs. Thankfully, my sailing shoes are great for this kind of challenges and they get dried shortly after.

Landscapes straight from the western

Once you will cross the bridge, you might start thinking about American westerns. The only thing that is missing in this place is gangs of Indians and cowboys.

The path runs through a constantly changing landscape and gives us new emotions with each step. While approaching the seashore, we discover enormous cliffs which once again show us the power of nature. For me, it was surprising how rocky could be the shores of the Caribbean islands. Before coming to the French Antilles, I expected to see only white wide beaches. I could not be more wrong.

In the middle of La Savane des Pétrifications, we can also enjoy truly cosmic landscapes. Shore cliffs suddenly change from the stone structure into clayey hills. Because of security reasons and unstable ground, it is forbidden to walk on this extraordinary land. But watching it still makes a huge impression.

From dry desert to paradise

Your trip to La Savane des Pétrifications could be short and take you about two hours. But if you enjoy rough landscapes, you can keep continuing walking on the long paths in the..

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Traveling gives a lot of joy! But to travel, usually, we need some money. In this post, I’ve got a gift for you – a detailed financial report on the costs of living in the Caribbean. I spent two months living in French Antilles, Guadeloupe and Martinique. And I noted every single euro cent that I spent.

In this post, I share my report with you. It might help you when you will be planning your own trip to French Antilles. I wrote down also a few tips about how to find a cheap flight and nice accommodation. So enjoy planning your own Caribbean dream!

Read more: The Ultimate Travel Guide to Guadeloupe.

Step one: research

Good research is very important before any trip. After mine, I had the only conclusion: Caribbean islands are not the cheapest ones. A Polish blog Życie pod palmami was my first source of information. You can find some general information about costs of living in the Caribbean in one of the posts about living there.

Another source was a blog Karaiby Oczami Badacza, where its author – Paulina – describes this topic a little bit more deeply. You can find her post about prices in the Caribbean here. Thanks to her I also found my first apartment in Sainte-Anne, in Guadeloupe.

How to find cheap flight and accommodation? Cheap flight tickets trick

To find flight tickets at a nice price, it is also good to start research a little bit earlier. The purpose is to see how much the prices vary during the time. I recommend using a flight search engine, for example, Skyscanner. This website offers a really cool option for searching for the best prices during the whole month.

Simply go to their website by clicking here and choose your destination. Then, in the fields “Depart” and “Return” click the option “whole month”. This way you will be able to see the best prices during next months! Then simply proceed to airline website by clicking the price that satisfies you.

I really appreciate this option and use it each time I am looking for new flights.

Live like a local at a nice price

While living in Martinique we used Airbnb to find our apartment. What I like in this platform is that the places are cozier and you can enjoy living like a local instead of sleeping in the next hotel. You can have a nice contact with the apartment owner who will be happy to give you a lot of advice about the city.

Airbnb could be also cheaper than booking a hotel. And usually, if you book a really long stay, like a month, you will receive a huge discount. In Martinique, we had almost 50% discount because we were staying for the whole of November.

Are you not an Airbnb user yet? Wanna receive a welcome discount of 23€ for your first stay?

How to save money for a trip?

After the initial research, it was a time to create a budget plan for this trip. It is a good practice to create a spreadsheet with predicted costs. When you already know more or less the price of flight tickets and accommodation you can treat it as your base.

In December 2017 my life changed drastically. I bought a book of a Polish finance blogger – Michał Szafrański – and that moment was a huge game changer. I learned to create a home budget and save a huge amount of money without increasing my salary. I mean I always knew that saving was important, but apparently, I needed someone to guide me by the hand.

Thanks to this book, which is called “Financial Ninja”, I was able to save as much money as I needed to quit my permanent job and move to the Caribbean for the whole two months. The book that I am talking about you can find by clicking here.

Read more: How I saved 3000€ for two-months travel to the Caribbean.

Costs of living in the Caribbean – download your copy!

And finally, I did. I was living two months in Guadeloupe and Martinique – beautiful islands of French Antilles. After I came back to Poland I prepared a detailed financial report from our trip. You will find there our main costs of living in the Caribbean. Now you can use it and download it for free by clicking below!

Costs of living in the Caribbean

Download a free financial report!

  • detailed expenses of 2-months living in the Caribbean
  • costs of accommodation, flight tickets, public transport, etc.
  • price list of grocery items
  • and more!

Make your trip planning easier with those numbers!

I hope you will find this report extremely useful! If you will like it, share this post with your friends, so they can download their report copy too.

Like it? Pin it!

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. That means that if you click on them or do any purchase via them, I receive a small commission. But don’t worry, this will not cost you anything and in a few cases, you can even receive a special discount! And I will be able to still chasing my dreams. So thank you!

The post Costs of living in the Caribbean – a detailed financial report from 2-month adventure appeared first on Sunday in Wonderland.

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The Caribbean is a wonderful region. But it’s definitely much more than just beautiful beaches. So take a look at this list of my favorite things to do in Guadeloupe that might inspire you to enjoy some more activities during your travel.

Read more: Ultimate Guadeloupe Travel Guide.

Guadeloupe is a charming island located in the Lesser Antilles. It is also a French territory. Its beaches are gorgeous and assure a perfect relaxing vacation. But for those of you who prefer more active recreation, the island has plenty of exciting proposals.

Best things to do in Guadeloupe 1. Explore wonders of Deshaies Botanical Garden

I start the list with the most colorful place in Guadeloupe. Deshaies Botanical Garden is a must-see on its map. Filled with distinguished trees species and greenery, it will provide a delightful journey for your senses. Colorful flowers, unique tree shapes, and charming inhabitants of the garden will enrich your Guadeloupian travel with some great memories.

2. Hike Pointe des Chateaux

Spreading on the Eastern side of Guadeloupe, Pointe des Chateaux is one of the most popular natural attraction on the island. The picturesque cliffs and rocks immersed in the Atlantic Ocean are the recognizable element of many postcards. This place is a perfect hiking trail even for people with not the best condition. But the rapture and the excitement are guaranteed.

3. Climb La Soufrière volcano

This is probably one of my favorite things to do in Guadeloupe. Climbing the La Soufrière volcano, which is, by the way, the highest peak of the Lesser Antilles, is exciting and relaxing at the same time. The trail takes several hours to reach the summit and come back. It is also a bit challenging, but definitely worth the effort. The views from the mountainside are stunning. And the trail itself consists of diverse obstacles which will not let us get bored.

4. Admire the Carbet Falls

The majestic Carbet Falls hidden in the Guadeloupe National Park are amazing natural attraction which sailors can observe even from the see. Two waterfalls, 100 meters of height each, make an enormous impression. Reaching one of them is incredibly easy since the trail was equipped with wooden footbridges. The trail to the second one requires a much better physical condition of a hiker but definitely will reward the effort with unforgettable views.

5. Chill on Plage de La Caravelle

Plage de La Caravelle is my favorite in Guadeloupe. You can find it next to the city of Sainte-Anne which, by the way, has a gorgeous city beach too. But during the whole month of living in Guadeloupe, Plage de La Caravelle was my place. My apartment was in a distance of only 5 minutes by feet from this small paradise. The beach is covered with white sand, and slim palm trees ensure a bit of shadow. And the water in the sea is fabulous. There are some charming hotels next to the beach, so the whole area is clean and well-maintained. You will also have the opportunity to enjoy diverse water sports in this place. Highly recommended!

Wanna know the costs of living in the Caribbean?

I’ve been traveling for two months in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Now I want to share the summary of all of the trip costs with you!

  • Flight tickets and transport
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Activities
  • And more!
6. Hike through the jungle to find hidden waterfalls

Carbet Falls are not the only waterfalls on the island. If you will look for some more magic, you will find charming places with amazing waterfalls and cold refreshing water. Cascade aux Ecrevisses, Le Bassin Paradise, or Cascade le Saut de L’Acomat are one of them. All of them are easy to find, and Cascade aux Ecrevisses is accessible even for people moving on a wheelchair. Visiting those waterfalls if one of the best things to do in Guadeloupe.

7. Visit other islands

In fact, Guadeloupe consists of two lands: Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre. But officially, also a few other islands belong to Guadeloupe’s territory. La Désirade, Marie-Galante, Petite-Terre, and Les Saintes are beautiful islands, definitely worth visiting. From the mainland, you will have a lot of opportunities to join a trip to those smaller islands. Many companies organize whole-day boat trips including sailing, local dinner, snorkeling, and many more.

8. Learn more about coffee history

The Caribbean climate is perfect for growing several species of plants. You find there bananas, avocados, pineapples, cocoa, and coffee. Everything about this last one you can learn in the Coffee Museum. This lovely place will take for a historical journey of the coffee, and will spread your knowledge about this extraordinary plant and drink.

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Fort-de-France in Martinique is the capital of this overseas French department. It is also one of the major cities in the Caribbean, thanks to a port being the exportation point for goods such as sugar, rum, fruits, and cacao.

After visiting Pointe-à-Pitre, the economic center of Guadeloupe, which did not enchant us so much, Fort-de-France was a nice surprise. We had the impression that Martinique’s biggest city was much more pleasant, clean and simply prettier. The city itself is quite big, with over 85,000 of people living there, but in fact, there are not many things to do in the center. But even so, there are still a few sights, that are worth visiting.

The city boulevard leading to Fort Saint Louis
Fort-de-France in Martinique: the greatness caused by a tragedy

The history of the city of Fort-de-France started in 1638 when the first governor of Martinique decided to build a port of Saint Louis to protect the island against the enemies. The city born around the port, originally called Fort-Royal, became the administrative capital of the island.

Nevertheless, for years it was outshined by the city of Saint-Pierre, a bit older and lying in the Northern part of Martinique. Saint-Pierre, where the cultural life of the island flourished, was called “The Paris of the Caribbean”. Fort-de-France in Martinique stayed in its shadow until the natural disaster in 1902.

The powerful eruption of the volcano Mount Pelée destroyed the city of Saint-Pierre and killed over 28,000 people. Only a few people lived through this catastrophe, including a prisoner – Louis-Auguste Cyparis, who was serving a sentence for starting fights under the influence of alcohol. His tiny cell did not have any windows beside a small opening above the door. Thanks to this not much consequences of the eruption reached him. Louis-Auguste was saved by rescuers a few days after the catastrophe.

From these days, the social, economic and cultural life moved to Fort-de-France in Martinique. Today, the city is modern and offers a few unique spots to visit during a one-day trip. Habitually, the local inhabitants still call it Foyal, which is the shortened version of the old Fort-Royal. Same, people living in the city are often called Foyolais.

Now let’s take a look on the biggest attractions of Fort-de-France in Martinique.

1. St. Louis Cathedral

The main Roman Catholic church in the city of Fort-de-France was built in 1895. But actually, six other churches were standing there before. The first one was built in 1657, but during the years passing by, all of them were destroyed by natural disasters.

The designer of the current construction, which we can admire today, is pretty well-known in the world. Gustave Eiffel was responsible for creating a steel structure of the cathedral which would survive through hurricanes and earthquakes.

St. Louis Cathedral in Fort-de-France ideally compose with the environment of the city. It makes a light impression which perfectly suits the Caribbean atmosphere. The blue color of steel elements plays a great role and make the whole building look like a sketch idea drawn on a piece of paper. Interior geometrical ceiling ornament is a nice surprise.

2. Schoelcher Library

This avant-garde for the times of its creation building is one of the most uniques heritage spots on the island. Victor Schœlcher, who was a famous abolitionist, was fighting actively the whole his life for the freedom of people in the Caribbean islands. He participated in the creation of abolition decree in 1848 and was one of the most important persons during the war against slavery in the French territories.

In 1883 he decided to donate a huge amount of 9,000 books and 250 music scores to the people of Martinique, below the one condition: they must be placed in a public library accessible for everyone. This was the reason to design this outstanding library by a French architect, Henri Picq. Today, the Schœlcher Library is still open to the public in the center of Fort-de-France in Martinique.

3. Fort Saint Louis

The most famous fort in Fort-de-France – Fort Saint Louis – was built originally in 1638, as I mentioned before. But during the centuries many disasters and French enemies were destroying it. A few times it was a target of the attack of English and Dutch warships. But we still can visit saved part of the fort, since most of it is still in use until today as a naval base. History lovers can also take a guided tour on the fortress.

4. Place De La Savane

Place De La Savane is a parc which lies just between Fort Saint Louis and the Schœlcher Library. It as big parc area of green grass, diversified with palms and trees. Alongside the park, there goes an alley with street food spots, which is a nice place for a relax after sightseeing the rest of the city.

Nearby, you can find a statue of Empress Josephine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. She was born in Martinique which was the reason for the location of her statue. A group of people accusing her of supporting slavery vandalized it the 1990s. The head of Josephine’s statue was cut-off and the whole figure was painted with red paint.

Iguana near Place de La Savane 5. Palais de Justice

The original Palais de Justice (courthouse) in Fort-de-France in Martinique was built in the XVIII century. Unfortunately, the earthquake in 1839 destroyed the whole building. In 1855 the governor of Martinique decided to build a new one.

Palais de Justice which we can admire today represents the neoclassical style. The space in front of the building turned into a square with a fountain in the center. Nowadays, the statue of Victor Schœlcher with a young liberated slave replaced the fountain.

How to get around in Fort-de-France in Martinique?

The city center of Fort-de-France is small enough that you can visit all of its highlights by feet. If you travel by car, you need to have in mind street traffic. Since the city is the island’s capital and the biggest agglomeration on the island, the car traffic can be pretty big in the rush hours.

Wanna know the costs of living in the Caribbean?

I’ve been traveling for two months in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Now I want to share the summary of all of the trip costs with you!

  • Flight tickets and..
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In Martinique, everyone will find something for himself. Some might prefer to spend whole days on the beach, some might be looking for adventure with jungle trekking in looking for waterfalls or wandering in savannah landscape. But for those who would like to learn a bit more about the island’s history, I recommend them to visit La Savane des Esclaves.

If you’re one of them, let me bring you to a place full of stories and knowledge. Enjoy this visit and remember to appreciate your own quality of life. Or maybe we should actually change something in it?

La Savane des Esclaves – why it is so unique?

La Savane des Esclaves in Martinique is, in the simplest term, the open-air museum. It is the area of 2,5 acres, where you can find the reconstruction of the everyday life of people living on the island years ago. Mainly, it tells the story of slaves which came to island, forced by colonizers.

The area of La Savane des Esclaves consists of gardens and small huts. The founder of this place, Gilbert Larose, built them the same way they were built originally by slaves. Each hut tells another story and, gathered together, they show the complete picture of the slavery issue. Unlike the huge and modern Mémorial ACTe in Guadeloupe, here we receive the opportunity to imagine how the everyday miserable life looked like during slavish centuries.

And even if the knowledge gained in this place is frightening in fact, in the end, I felt really great wandering on the simple paths and through the simple life. Maybe that’s the lesson we all should learn? Simplifying our lives and appreciating more what we have? Think about it while reading this text.

A bit of history

While walking the paths of La Savane des Esclaves, we will be able to learn a bit of the island’s history. The colorful boards will show us each aspect of the life of people living there. Unfortunately, most of those stories will not be glorious.

Christopher Columbus discovered Martinique for the Western world in 1502, but he didn’t stay on the island. It was 1635, when the first French settled on the island, after creating an agreement with the local people – the Caribs. Since then, Europeans started to create plantations of tobacco, cotton and sugar cane, and the colonial times began.

Look down and work hard

The colonists needed hands to work. So in France, the famous Cardinal Richelieu began to incentive people to sail to the Caribbean and become “volunteers”. He promised them to be receiving half of the produced goods in return for working in plantations. Many men, mostly from Normandy and Brittany, tempted for his proposals and came to the Antilles. But the reality was not so colorful in fact.

When “the volunteers” came to the Caribbean islands, the planters treated them like slaves. They were working much harder than they should, in poor conditions. And before they actually received an opportunity to earn something, they needed to work for 36 months to pay they journey from Europe to Martinique.

Dark times for humanity

In 1638, the first slaves from Africa were brought to Martinique. Unlike “the volunteers”, they were treated only like plantation’s tools from the very beginning. They were transported mostly from the African continent to European cities, like Nantes, Le Havre or Bordeaux, kept in cages, and then shipped to the Caribbean and sold to the planters to hard labor.

The African slaves gathered in a French ship and transported to the Caribbean

Everyday life of a slave was hard work. Each day, they were working physically in the full Caribbean sun often over a dozen hours. The base of their diet was manioc, from time to time varied with salted meat – beef head, turtle or fish. With the centuries, potatoes, corn, peas, and bananas replaced manioc. This miserable diet, hard work over strength, and the lack of medical care was the reason why the average length of life among the slaves was 25-35 years old.

The Black Code

Since the slave trade became extremely popular in the overseas territories, some laws and regulations were created to control the whole system. In 1685, Colbert, a French minister, wrote The Black Code, which was a set of regulations concerning the slaves’ treatment.

The Black Code has the answer to every question that the planter might ask. For example, when a slave tried to escape from the plantation for the first time but he was caught, his owner had a right to cut his both ears and brand his cruelly with a lily symbol (fleur-de-lys) on his shoulder. After the second try of escape, the slave was branded on the second shoulder and his leg was cut off at the knee. For the third try, he was sentenced to death.

When a slave was caught while eating a sugar cane on the field, he was forced to wear a muzzle during the work.

With getting old, the slave gained the “right of savannah”. That meant he was able to choose to live on his own, somewhere near the plantation. He could still be doing some small tasks, like being a doorman or hunting the pests.

The slaves were not allowed to use any kind of plants that were considered as medicinal. And that was because the plantations’ owners were afraid of being poisoned.

The Abolition of Slavery

The decree of the Abolition of Slavery was signed in 1794, but it only slightly limited the slaves’ trade. Slavery became officially illegal in 1848 and these regulations included all French territories. But the illegal trade still existed until the end of XIX centuries, because the planters still needed hands to work.

In the Caribbean, when the slaves regained “freedom”, their situation, in fact, didn’t change that much. Usually, they were able to continue the work on the plantation in return for the place to sleep and some food. So in fact, the conditions stayed the same. But some of the people chose to live on their own in the lands which the planters were not using. There, they tried to live their lives in self-built villages, until the XX century.

The richness of gardens of Savane des Esclaves

But now, let’s get off those sorrowful times. Luckily, La Savane des Esclaves is not only the lesson of history. In this place, you can also enjoy the charm of multiple gardens.

Plenty species of trees, plants, and flowers will greet you in gardens of La Savane des Esclave. Since this place is meant to be an educational entertainment, you will find multiple informative boards on the path. You will learn which kind of medicinal plants grow in Martinique and how people were using them to treat diseases. You will read the stories about the plantations of tobacco, coffee, cotton, cocoa, and more. And finally, you will see what kind of vegetables and fruits can be found on the island and how to use them in a creative way in your kitchen.

You can even participate in a cocoa workshop, where you will have an opportunity to learn more about this miracle plant and its fruits! And if you would like to prepare yourself a cup of a delicious Caribbean hot chocolate, check out the list of food, sweets, and drinks which you should try in the French Antilles.

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Living in the Caribbean was my dream for a while. I fulfilled it in 2018 when I was living the whole month in Guadeloupe. I had enough time to visit the whole island and to try different attractions that it offered. In this ultimate Guadeloupe travel guide, you will find the most important facts about the island, tips how to get there and where to stay and some information about the costs, food, transport, attractions, weather, and many others.

Geography: Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe is an island located in the Lesser Antilles, in the Caribbean. From the administrative point of view, this island forms an integral part of France and is considered as one of the French overseas departments. Because of this fact, the island is also a part of the European Union.

Guadeloupe itself consists of two islands lying so close to each other, that they are often considered as one land. Their names are Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, where a capital – the city of Basse-Terre – is located. Besides those two, a few smaller islands belong to Guadeloupe’s region: La Désirade, Marie-Galante, Petite-Terre, and Les Saintes.

On the interactive map below, you can check where Guadeloupe is located. You can save this map in your Google Maps as a cheat sheet with the best attractions and beaches in Guadeloupe, which I describe further in this post.

Guadeloupe travel guide: what to see and what to do?

To well begin the travel guide to Guadeloupe, I give you a list of the most popular places in Guadeloupe to visit. Most of them are natural attractions with diverse hiking trails. But some are also museums and similar places where you can discover the beauty of Guadeloupe and its culture.

The Volcano La Soufrière

La Soufrière is one of the most popular attractions for active tourists, so it is a fixed point of every Guadeloupe travel guide. It is also the highest peak of the Lesser Antilles. Even if the main trail – called “The Ladies Trail” – is marked as “difficult”, children will be able to achieve it. The views from the volcano side are so amazing that you will not regret hours spent on climbing.

Read more: How to climb the volcano La Soufrière?

Deshaies Botanical Garden

This colorful place is one that enchanted me the most in the Guadeloupian map. A huge park filled with scents, colors, and noises is a must-see on the island. There, you will be able to discover the diversity of exotic plants and greenery from different corners of the world. And you will spend some nice moments with charming inhabitants of the garden: parrots, Koi carps and goats.

Read more: All the wonders of Deshaies Botanical Garden.

Carbet Waterfalls

Sailors are able to observe two of those amazing waterfalls from the sea. Both of them have more than 100 meters, each. A trail leading to the second fall is well preserved and easily accessible. It creates a nice trip opportunity for families traveling with children. The first fall, in the opposite, requires better condition and climbing skills. So it will be a great adventure for those who are more adventurous.

Read more: How we strayed from the trail while going to Carbet Falls.

Pointe des Chateaux

Pointes des Chateaux is the most Eastern part of the island. I have spent there a whole day wandering on a beautiful and diverse trail, leading on the cliff shore, beaches, and through a forest. The path is not so demanding, meanwhile, the trail is a great attraction for landscape lovers.

Read more: A whole day long trip to Pointe des Chateaux on Guadeloupe.

Mémorial ACTe and Pointe-à-Pitre center

If you would like to dive into Guadeloupe’s history, the must-visit place is Mémorial ACTe, which is dedicated to the Memory and History of Slavery Trade. During centuries the island population was increasing mainly because of the people forced to move to Guadeloupe to become slaves. Mémorial ACTe is a modern museum with a well-designed exhibition about the world slavery issue.

While visiting Mémorial ACTe I also recommend wandering in the center of Pointe-à-Pitre, which is the biggest city in Guadeloupe. Meanwhile, the city itself is not the prettiest one, I found there some old-time architecture that still remembers the colonial centuries.

Read more: The visit in Mémorial ACTe and things to do in Pointe-à-Pitre.

Colonial architecture in Pointe-à-Pitre
Coffee Museum

Caribbean islands have perfect conditions to grow coffee, a daily must-have for lots of people. A humid climate, a lot of sun, all of these make coffee grows. The beans are dried in a traditional way and you can taste them in a delicious Guadeloupian coffee like Café Chaulet. I recommend visiting the Coffee Museum (fr. Le Musée du Café), which is located near Basse-Terre city. There you can discover the whole process of coffee production and lots of interesting facts about this fascinating drink.

Read more: The aromatic trip to the Coffee Museum in Guadeloupe.

Maison du Cacao

Another educative trip for your senses. Cocoa also likes Guadeloupian climate, so on the island, you can find a lot of cocoa trees. There is also chocolate made locally which recipe was created in 1911 and didn’t change from that time. Chocolat Elot has an unusual taste of cane sugar, which makes it a delicious snack. The history of the chocolate on the island you can discover in Maison du Cacao which is located on the Western shore.

Rum Museum

What is your first thought about the Caribbean? White sand? Nah. Warm water. Noo. Rhum? Oh yes, give me more! Sugar cane grows all around the island. So in Guadeloupe, you can find a few famous distilleries, like Bologne, Longueteau, Bellevue or Montebello. Rhum is a base for many other local drinks, like Ti’Punch. So visiting one of Guadeloupian distilleries is highly recommended.

Porte d’Enfer and Pointe de La Grande-Vigie

Guadeloupe does not only mean beautiful beaches covered with white sand. I was surprised how stunning cliffs I found there. Next to Pointe des Chateaux, there are some other spots on trekking list. Porte d’Enfer (eng. Hell’s Gate) and Pointe de La Grande-Vigie are wonderful places which you can find on the North of Grande-Terre Region. Porte d’Enfer is actually a grotto, which is thrilling deep. From its edge, you can get only a sneak peek which really gives you an impression of looking into hell’s gorge.

Read more: A trekking to Porte d’Enfer during a 4-days road trip.

Costumes and Traditions Museum

This small family museum, located in Gosier, will be a nice spot for people willing to know more about the everyday life of Creoles living in Guadeloupe. Well-preserved costumes and household items will tell you the story of the island’s traditions and old habits. In this museum, you will find all of the answers about how the life of people looked like in Guadeloupe years ago.

What else to experience in Guadeloupe? Chill on a beach and pick up coconuts

Let’s be honest: relax on the beach is one of the fixed elements of traveling to the Caribbean. This travel guide to Guadeloupe will not be completed without a short list of beautiful beaches to visit.

My very favorite was Plage de La Caravelle, next to Sainte-Anne city. I was living near to it while spending the whole month in Guadeloupe. Morning calm sunrises and joyful afternoons spent there were making me feel warm inside. The beach is located near a big hotel, so it’s clean and filled with attractions like kitesurfing, paddling, and kayaking.

The city beach in Sainte-Anne is also a wonderful spot. You can meet there locals having BBQ in palm trees’ shadow and active people having aqua-aerobic classes in water. You can also enjoy local restaurants next to the beach.

If you want to make a lovely selfie with a charming island in background, go to La Datcha beach. It is located in Gosier city. Maybe it is not the biggest one, but views are surely worth a stop.

Some other beaches worth your time are Bois Jolan, Grande Anse, Petit Havre, Plage du Souffleur and Raisins Clairs.

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