A historical and cultural melting pot in the French West Indies

  •  Tour des Yoles (race) in Martinique

    Tour des Yoles (race) in Martinique

    © Comité Martiniquais du Tourisme – K.TANAKA

  • The Carnival in Martinique

    The Carnival in Martinique

    © CMT / H.Salomon

  • Creole huts of Cayenne (Guyana)

    Creole huts of Cayenne (Guyana)

    © CT Guyana

  • Carnival in Martinique,North Parade

    Carnival in Martinique,North Parade

    © Comité Martiniquais du Tourisme – FA

A historical and cultural melting pot in the French West Indies gp

History…

The Arawak people, who came from the South American coasts, were decimated by their  warlike enemies:  the Caribbean Indians. They themselves were wiped out by the first Spanish, English and  French  explorers. These invincible warriors and great navigators were the ones who lived in the Caribbean when Columbus landed there  for the first time in 1493 (Guadeloupe) and  1502 (Martinique). Of this pre-Colombian era, an archaeological site of carved rocks remains, containing 220 relics of rock art. The Museum of American Prehistory at the Moule in Guadeloupe pays homage to this period.  

Whether it be the reconstitution of the  great plantations in Martinique, or the historic excavations of the Bertrand cove in Guadeloupe, traces of slavery  villages remind visitors that the sadly famous ‘Black Code’ was in place in the West Indies during1685. Then the  entire economy survived  on  the basis of specialised, large-scale agriculture: sugar cane, coffee and cocoa beans. Since then  it has been replaced by the sale of bananas.

Today, you can visit some of these great estates, which are made up of a traditional rum distillery or a typical Creole house.
These  Creole huts  have  now become symbols of the Caribbean heritage. 

...and traditions

Caribbean traditions are  based pri- marily  on  music and  dance, which accompany the  life of all inhabitants. The beguine, zouk,  the  quadrille and the  Gwo Ka are  all traditional Creole dances.

 The  carnival   which   takes place   in February is an emblematic event for all of the French Caribbean. Processions, colourful parades, music and traditional dance are all present and  should not be missed. 

 In early  August, the  iconic  Tour des Yoles (race) is a uniquely  Martiniquan experience  that   is also   not   to  be missed. This small-boat sailing competition is a wonderful  show  for both visitors and residents.

 

Did you know?

Christmas is one of the highlights of Martinique.
This traditional religious celebration is fully enjoyed and many festivities take place during the month of December.

Carol singing is an opportunity to get together with family and friends who enjoy singing to therhythm of drums, chacha and Tibois (percussion) in celebration of the coming of Christ.

Many people decorate their house with Christmas lights and contests are organised by the tourist offices and syndicates,which are judged on originality. Christmas markets during the festive period are at the heart of Martinique. A medley of liqueurs and other spirits can be found at the markets; schrubb, orange liqueur and coconutpunch are popular choices available for visitors to buy.