Let’s talk about Fort-de-France a beautiful city.
The best way to appreciate the view of Fort-de-France is to arrive by sea. Coming via a cruise boat is a great option. Otherwise you can rent a car from Alwégo and park in the car park of Silo. Although parking is easier at night and it’s free. The colorful city is waiting languidly. Noises and perfumes abound. The bell tower of the cathedral Saint Louis stands out amidst the background of the blue skies. Teeming with people, Fort-de-France is alive!
What to visit?
Where to start? The number of inhabitants? Number of businesses? The capital? Let’s start with the sweet aroma of the markets. The warmth of the streets, the houses adorned with magnificent colors, the feeling of getting lost in the city. Watch the vibrant life happening within its limits. Like many other cities we can either love or hat Fort-de-France. But once we fall in love with her we can’t live without her. She is captivating like a Caribbean woman serious and laughing, sad and cheerful all at once. She sings and dances but sometimes she scolds us.
Fort-de-France’s Farmer’s Market
It is the large covered market on Blenac street that perfumes the air with sweet aromas. The building that houses the stalls everyday dates from 1886. Spices, rums, fruits, and vegetables, madras clothes, souvenirs for tourists. You can find an array of items here even “made in china” items. The view is beautiful with colorful stalls and friendly merchants. “Saoufé, pani pwoblem”? Which is the creole greeting meaning “ How are you doing ? Everything is alright? We entice you with creole just to get you to stay longer.
The Savannah of Fort-de-France
The second site not to be missed is the Savannah of Fort-de-France. The local Central Park. A park within the city watching over the stature of the Empress Josephine or is it vice versa? In the 18th century the Savannah was originally used for military training. Throughout the years people started to come to the Savannah in order to rest, to socialize with one another, under the shade of the palm trees and other vegetation. The savannah became so popular the military overtime stopped using it as a military training ground. It became known as the garden of the King. Various plants and trees were added overtime. While in 1859 a marble statue of the former Empress Josephine was erected in the center of the park.
The Schoelcher Library
Opposite of the savannah on the corner of Caribbean and Liberty streets stands an historical monument. That monument is Schoelcher Library. It gets its name from its first donor Victor Schoelcher. He was a french abolitionist and politician. The building resembles a pagoda an asian like tower curved upwards at the division of each story. It has pink and yellow stripes influenced by byzantine, moorish, and egyptian style “art nouveau” .The architect Pierre-Henri Picq is also the architect of the covered hall, Saint Louis cathedral, Le Printemps store etc. Mr. Picq worked with mainly with concrete and metal in order to create amazing works of art. The interior is beautiful , there is a light grey floor done in a geometric pattern, dark wood shelves all lit by a glass dome. The walls are made of an earthy colored strip containing the names of great french writers in written in gilded lettering.
The Empress Hotel
Facing the park is another unique treasure the Empress hotel. It is filled with a long faraway charm. Built in 1955 and inaugurated in February of 1956 it resembles an ocean liner much like its seaside Floridian cousins. Five floors inclined with balconies adorned with railing each floor has mosaics of different colors and it even contains an elevator. On the ground floor there's a bar and a terrace the first of its kind on the island at the time. You can savor some island cocktails and saltfish fritters as well.
Saint Louis Cathedral
The cathedral grew in size from a small church weathering hurricanes, earthquakes and fires. Mr. Picq was involved in the cathedral’s last construction. In 1978, in an effort to have the building weather all the possible natural catastrophes he renovated the building with metal and modeled it after the roman-byzantine style of architecture. To this structure he added large vitrines that told the story of Fort-de-France. In 1990, it was classified as an historical monument.
Let’s continue on with spring, a nice bluff! In 1901, the owner of the store without any consent or authorization from the same store of its namesake in France decided to name his store Printemps. Today the store no longer used still has its beautiful hexagonal tower adorned with six bull’s eyes and it’s metallic structure.
Visiting Fort-de-France does it take long?
Fort-de-France has an area of more than 44 kilometers needed space when it has about 82,000 people as residents. You have to walk about 10 km in order to visit other tourist attractions. If done by car it can take up to double the time if there are traffic jams. Fort-de-France and the surrounding neighborly cities of Schoelcher and Lamentin are make up a tricity urban ensemble that houses approximately 170,000 residents which is 46% of the population of the island.
The Road to Balata
It's the road just before one takes La trace a freeway that connects Fort-de-France to Ajoupa Bouillon. A freeway about 40 kms in length in the middle of a wet, lush, and green jungle. A huge forest containing a variety of trees and beautiful flowers.
Sacred Heart Church of Balata
The fifth replica of the Montmartre a roman-byzantine style church. A large car park can accommodate tourists who like to admire the view of Fort-de-France along its perimeter. Just a few stops further is another tourist attraction : the garden of balata.
A garden mentioned in thousands of online searches
Horticulturist,botanist, and landscaper Jean-Phillipe Thoze created a unique place on the grounds of his grandparents home. Since 1982, the grounds have been home to more than three thousand species of plants. It certainly welcomes hummingbirds as well. There is a walking path through the middle of the garden. One can admire the scenic view of the vegetation, Fort-de-France and the piton de carbet all at once by walking on giant suspended mahogany bridges. End this graced filled moment by visiting the creole house decorated and furnaced in a traditional way. The house has a roof with four sides allowing the air to circulate between different rooms. There are no windows but there are removable blinds. There are zinc borders protecting the home from rainwater. There are lime colored wood coral walls.