Martinique – The “Français” Island and its Loads of History
Rhum has a rich tradition in Martinique and boasts the Champagne of Rhums in its AOC distinction, but for me it’s about the people and the place. Don’t get me wrong, I did the Rhum Clément tour and walked away carrying a bottle, but sharing it while staying at my second hotel on the island, Cap Est, was not to be outdone.
There’s nothing like your own plunge pool outside your sliding glass door and the sound of the waves just beneath your suite to erase the word “tour” and replace it with heaven.
This property is sprawling and I had the privilege of staying in a junior suite, as well as savoring a scrumptious four-course dinner just outside the wine cellar after pre-dinner cocktails overlooking the expansive lawn just off the bar’s breezy sitting area.
To me, my bottle of Rhum may never be opened this trip but rather taken home to share with family and friends. With everything I was enjoying at the resort, I had no immediate desire to dull my senses. I wanted to take it all in and enjoy every moment… et voilá, so I did.
Until I decided that there was more to be seen and my inquisitive side was nudging me to at least poke around the capital of Fort-de-France. As I always say, “An island has two angles you can view it from, and I love to see it from all sides, so let’s get there by boat!”
Always take a boat trip if you can – you’ll see what I mean. Glad I took this route as we anchored in the middle of the Caribbean Sea when the captain says, “Here’s a rum punch (or was it a Rhum punch), now hop in.
You’re at Josephine’s Bathtub.” Had it not been for the other boat pulling up near us and a couple hopping off, I’d have though he was nuts. A bathtub? This is the Caribbean Sea, and it’s deep, and why are we stopping?
He knew precisely what he was saying and doing. Moments later, Rhum (I’ve decided it’s Rhum), punch in hand, I was up to my bellybutton in clear Caribbean salt water.
It was a submerged sandbar, named for Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, Josephine, who was born and raised in Martinique – fun fact! I am almost certain she had a claw-foot tub or something ostentatious to bathe in back at her place but nothing could be grander than the soothing sea against your body as you sip on a delicious cocktail… in the middle of the open waters of the Caribbean.
After a couple of hours, not against my will, we made our way to Fort-de-France and one of my all-time favorite things to do was open.
The local market. Yes, the place where vendors shill everything from fresh fruit to hats and brooms. It’s a glorious spot for me. The sights, scents, boisterous people, laughter, and energy all make this place come alive.
It’s vibrant and eclectic, and I gravitate to a stand selling passion fruit, plums and soursop… one of each please! As I made my way around the market, I managed to consume all that I had purchased; the Euro is in full effect here but US dollars are slowly gaining acceptance. Fruit in my belly, I was off to see the sights.
Historic buildings, statues in the park, a library that dates back to the Eiffel Tower’s construction that was moved directly from France to Martinique. This place has so much to share with guests. It’s not one of those “just beneath the surface” sort of places.
The island wears her story proudly on her sleeve for all to see. Such a wonderful island, home to genuinely friendly people, loads of history… and aching to be explored. Everything has a foothold in the Europe of a bygone era blended with a current hip French vibe, yet distinctly Caribbean in only the way Martinique can be.