Walking Tour of Fort-de-France, Martinique
The island of Martinique, as it name implies, was a French colony in the West Indies. The island is, perhaps, most famous for its still-active volcano, Mount Pelee, which was responsible for a devastating eruption in 1902 which killed over 30,000 people and virtually destroyed then-capital of the island, Saint-Pierre. The city of Fort-de-France is now the primary entryway on the island, and an interesting place to stroll.
My walk begins at the cruise-ship docks of Pointe Simon, where most visitors arrive at the island. Walk north on Rue des Caraibes to Rue Ernest Deproge and turn right. This road ends at the lovely Place de la Savane, a large plaza/park. Stroll the paths of the park, looking for the Statue of Balain D’esnambuc, founder of the colony (in the southwest corner), and the Statue of Empress Josephine (in the northwest corner), and just enjoying the ambience of the park.
From the Place, walk east, across the Boulevard Chevalier Sainte-Marthe, to Fort Saint Louis, which was built to protect the harbor and the town from maritime invaders. After your visit, return to Boulevard Chevalier and turn left, and then turn right onto Boulevard Alfassa.
Turn right on Rue de la Liberte to get to the Martinique Pre-Columbian Museum. Here you can learn about the island’s early inhabitants, the Arawak and Caribe Indians, as well as the history of European colonies on the island.
Continue north on Rue de la Liberte and then turn left on Rue Antoine Sigel as far as Rue Schoelcher. On the southwest corner of this intersection is St Louis Cathedral, built of iron, to withstand hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes, in 1875. The Cathedral is extremely interesting, with its huge pipe organs and Byzantine architectural elements.
Now, walk north on Rue Schoelcher to find the Court of Justice Building. Note the Statue of Victor Schoelcher, in front of the building. He is credited with the emancipation of the island’s slaves, in 1848.
Then, turn right on Rue Perrinon, and then left on Rue de la Liberte, to visit the Schoelcher Library. This structure was initially constructed for the Paris exposition of 1889.
Leave this area of town by walking west on Rue Victoro Severe, all the way to Rue Francois Arago. Turn right here to enter the Place Jose Marti, which contains botanical and geological displays. Finally, backtrack on Rue Francois Arago, which becomes Rue des Caraibes and leads back to the cruise-ship dock where you began.