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One month stay January-February 2012
Because I didn't wish to fly by Air France (and I was right 'cause of a strike when back to France) I used Air Caraibes that I didn't know.
Service on board is very good although we are squeezed in A330 plane. You must know that, in 2012, you may carry 2 bags (23kg max each) in baggage hold.
By word of mouth I found a flat in a beautiful villa : Le Panoramique in Trois Rivières 3km West side of Sainte Luce.
This villa owns a 2 rooms flat and 3 rooms flat at 1st floor, a 1 room flat and a beautiful 3 rooms flat at 2nd floor.
I rented the 3 rooms flat at 1st floor and paid €1800 a month. The flat is fully-equiped with air conditioning and WiFi included. A common washing machine stands outside.
Contact : Mme Sylvie CAYOL 44, La Jambette 97200 Fort de France Martinique
Tél. fixe : 0596 755 357 Portable : 0696 944 800 et 0696 944 805
email : email@example.com
Through Mrs Cayol, I rented a Peugeot 206 and paid 960€ a month. See Mr Claude Marie-Anne. Transfert from airport to the flat was provided.
My feeling is pretty good. Women are friendly, men too although they are more reserved.
Air temperature and water temperature are almost the same at this time so I really enjoyed swimming ( 82-84°F )
Main highways are pretty good but the others have got bad sides with some hollows. So be careful when driving at night.
Quite often, you 'll get 15% gradient so rent a powerful car. (Peugeot 206 isn't good enough)
Around Fort de France be aware of rush hours every day. And many strikes occurred that make driving not so easy (especially when gas station are on strike). It sounds like that strike is usual in Martinique.
The cost of life is huge. Do prefer buying food in supermarket like Leader Price for example.
A tip : don't buy any punch in little market places ! You'll taste a good one but you 'll be given a bad one : it's a rip-off.
Make your own punch, it's not very tough. but use natural fruit juices.
Buy fresh fishes by local fishermen at 10am or 6pm. Allow 10€ one kg whatever fish or lobster. At least, you 'll give your money to a native, not to a multinational.
• To get to Fort de France, the best way is to take a ferry in Trois Ilets (locate the church , go down the street that leads to the landing stage) : 6€50 round-trip a person, 25 min pleasant crossing.
There is a boat shuttle every hour. Ask the Tourism office in front of the church.
• Boat trip to 'la baignoire de Joséphine' from Le François : it's a must! Allow 40€ a person to spend an outstanding day.
• Balata garden : tropical vegetation ( but I prefer Hawaii gardens ). Admission charge pretty expensive 12€50 a person.
• South West coast : visit villages Trois Ilets, Anse d'Arlet, Grande Anse, Petite Anse, Le Diamant. Be aware of gradient roads.
• North West coast : city Saint Pierre. I didn't like driving that much because I had to pass through Fort de France.
• South coast : Ste Luce , Rivière Pilote, Le Marin, Ste Anne, les Salines. Beautiful but crowdy with tourists.
In Ste Luce, I found out by word of mouth a precious stones enthusiast craftsman:
Jean-Luc Pillier 48 rue Victor Hugo 97228 Sainte Luce. 0596 623 704 / 0696 322 742
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Leave you car in main parking at Ste Luce entrance, go on foot and cross the canal using the footbridge with duckboards, you'll find out the shop at the next left crossing streets.
Go early in the morning and you'll learn many things aboout precious stones and lithotherapy.
Close to his shop, stands a jewel craftsman who 'll make a silver pendant with a precious stone you 'd have bought by Jean-Luc.
• North east coast : Le Vauclin, le François, Le Robert, Ste Marie, Grand Rivière. The best to see from my opinion!
Anse Foula close to Vauclin is the best for children bathing (and you of course).
Prices are cheaper here especially materials.
May other things to see .....
• You like to spend a romantic evening week-end eating while listening reggae, get to Petite Anse Chez Fredo
• A well-known restaurant in Trois Ilets but not easy to find : Chez Marie-Jo. (take the street in front of the school and turn right in the curve)
I was disappointed of the meals as I know creol cooking very well. 27€ a person to get a vegetable soup and meals you can see in the following picture.
( We paid 65€ for 2 , beverages included) They give you all meals at the same time. The feeling about the fish was that it was reheated! We got crab legs, no flesh. The yam purée wasn't very good, the rice as well.br /> The crew was friendly though. You are aware.
• Avoid restaurant Coté Sud in Trois Rivières. Very bad and expensive. Many people felt the same.
• A very good restaurant in Le Robert, seafront close to a pizzeria : L'escale du Robert 0596 515 863
See Diamant rock at sunset from Panoramique in Trois Rivières.