Martinique is the biggest one of the Windward Islands and an overseas territory of France. In turn it belongs to the European Union and that means modern infrastructure, good roads and dinghy docks and the Euro as a currency. Unfortunately, another result is that life in Martinique is on the expensive side. Most cruisers keep their grocery shopping to a minimum, with the one exception of a visit to Leader Price to stock up on affordable French goodies, like cheese, pâté, salami, olives, rosemary crackers and wine. There’s one in Marin (with dinghy parking), the boating mecca of the island, and one in Fort-de-France, the capital.
Mt. Pelee volcano in St. Pierre © Liesbet Collaert
From a sailing perspective, Martinique is relatively big and has a lot to offer. Anchorages abound on three sides of the island and one could spend months here without getting bored or seeing the same place twice! Starting from the north, St. Pierre is a very interesting stop along the west coast. The small town lies at the foot of the picturesque Mt. Pelée volcano. In 1902, St. Pierre had 30 000 inhabitants and was the commercial, cultural and social center of Martinique. When the volcano erupted in May of that year, the devastation was enormous. All that remained were smoking ruins and two survivors. The town is worth a stop to take in the magnificent views of Mt. Pelée (when not in the clouds), learn about its history in the museum or walk around town and inspect many of the ruins. A visit to the theater ruins and the prison where Cyparis was jailed and survived the 1902 eruption is recommended.