Our first port after 3 weeks at sea, crossing the Atlantic, was Le Marin in Martinique. Not only did we finally see land again, but there were also THOUSANDS of masts from other sail boats. We have never seen so many sail boats at one place. We were really excited as we sailed in to the harbor and found a nice place to set anchor. Le Marin was a nice place to arrive for “newbies” like us, as everything is well organized for yachts. This is also a place many go to charter a boat for sailing in the Caribbean, which we guess explain the amount of boats in the area. If you are in this area; check out Saint Anne. It is in short distance from Le Marin, so we took our dinghy to go there. A charming little spot! You can also anchor outside Saint Anne, and dinghy to Le Marin.
It seems like a lot in the community in Le Marin revolves around the marina, but we wanted to see more of Martinique – the Isle of Flowers – as the local name (Madinina) means. The island is a French overseas department, and part of the EU, which means that the currency they use is Euro. It lives about 400 000 people here, and although French is the official language, Creole is also spoken by almost everyone. It’s an island with volcanic mountains, green hills and lots of beaches, both with white and black sand.
So after a few days of recovering in Le Marin, we once again set sail. We had a pleasant few hours of sailing to Fort de France, the capital of Martinique. We found an anchorage right outside the city center, which is compact and with walking distance to everything you need. The city is full of narrow and busy alleys with many colorful buildings, and the atmosphere is great. Since we also wanted to explore more ashore on the island, we tried to get a hold of a rental car/bike, but the company we found in here was closed, and we suspected this to have something to do with the upcoming Carnival Season.
After a few days in the capital, we set sail to St Pierre, on the north west coast. This used to be the capital on the island until it was destroyed by the eruption of the nearby volcano Mt Pele in 1902. This city was also known as the Paris of the West Indies, so we figured this would be a good place to experience the Carnival, and also to rent a car to explore more of this island.
Our non-exciting French, plus the Carnival Season, resulted in that we could not get a hold of a vehicle in St Pierre either. At that point we regretted not using the great facilities that were in Le Marin for these types of things. Nevertheless, we had a great time in Martinique. We enjoyed the first 2 days of Carnival in St Pierre, a very different experience from anything back home in Norway. Loud music could be heard from the morning until it was almost morning again. They also had some funny cars all over the island, decorated in various ways. Some of them with portraits of people, whereas others looked like a police car. They had straight exhaust pipes, and they were running on the rev limiter almost 24/7, which meant loads of sound. And this started a week before Carnival. We are not certain that the cars were only rigged for the Carnival, but we suspect that. We guess it is like the Norwegian “russebil”, and that people start using it before the festivities begin.
St Pierre is well worth a visit, Carnival or not. The town center is small, and there are establishments in places we wouldn’t have dreamed of at home. So look closely as you walk through town, because you might walk past a shop or a bar, or just a garage. Or all 3 of them in 1 establishment. You do not really know until you have a closer look 😊. The people in St Pierre are friendly, helpful and eager to talk to you. Unfortunately, once again, our French were inadequate. There are also many cool beach bars in town, perfect for enjoying the sunset. Au revoir, Martinique!