A collision of French and Caribbean cultures lends the island of Martinique a personality all its own. The French influence is evident in the food and fashion of Martinique’s stylish citizens, while the Caribbean spirit asserts itself in the music that fills the air, and the Carnival that fills the streets of the capital city, Fort du France, each February.
Over all this merriment, however, looms the specter of Mount Pelee, a dormant volcano which erupted in 1902, destroying the city of St. Pierre and its 30,000 inhabitants. Perhaps this awareness of the capricious and unpredictable nature of life inspires the people of Martinique to live each day to the fullest. Martinique is rich in natural beauty. The island is laced with nature trails, from the inland rainforest trail of La Trace, to Les Ombrages on the island’s northern side. Martinique’s vivid past comes alive at numerous historical sites. Musée de la Pagerie is dedicated to Napoleon’s sweetheart, Josephine, who was born here. The Musée Départemental de la Martinique reaches farther back in time, with a collection of prehistoric artifacts from the island’s Arawak and Carib societies. Miles of beaches fringe Martinique’s coastline, most notably at Les Salines.