Fort-de-France is Martinique’s capital city and our next stop heading south. Billed as the largest and liveliest city in the Windwards, they had a new boardwalk with a great dinghy dock.
We were able to anchor in the lee of Fort St. Louis which provided some protection from the wind, but not from the wakes from the ferries. The fort is still used by the military. As we watched black high speed skiffs ferried solders from the beach to a waiting ship.
Our first stop was the customs kiosk located in a nearby chandlery. The French islands require you to check in and out using a computer setup in various locations. After completing the form, you simply print it out and the clerk at whatever store you are in stamps it for you. You are done, no fees, no stamping passports, no inspections, etc.
They do, however make it challenging by providing a French keyboard. Hunt ‘n peckers like me have an advantage over touch typists. They also require you to find your nationality in a dropdown box. For U.S. citizens this too can be a challenge. At one station we were “Etats Unis” and at another we were “Amerique Du Nord.” I think it is retaliation for that Freedom Fries fiasco.
Cruisers on the Internet
Our next stop was Internet access. Sometimes you can pick it up in the harbor, but other times you are forced to lug your laptop into an Internet café.
In Fort-de-France a popular internet café was McDonalds, home of the McBaguette.
Thankfully, chain stores like McDonalds are making little headway in Martinique as most of the stores were small shops.
Most of the stores close at 5:00 PM and then the restaurants and bars open at 7:00 PM. This gives time for the shoppers leave and open up parking spaces for the restaurant goers. We had respectable Mexican food in this restaurant. Pollie says she still misses Gardunos in Albuquerque, NM.
This elaborate metal building was designed by Gustav Eifel, made in France and shipped to Martinique.
In 1893 Victor Schoelcher, a French politician and anti-slavery advocate, donated his collection of 10,000 books to start the library.
Grande Anse d’Arlet
After a couple of mornings being rolled out of bed by passing ferries, it was time to move south to a quieter anchorage.
It doesn’t get much quieter than this little fishing village.
Petite Anse d’Arlet
We dinghied around the corner to Petite Anse d’Arlet because we heard they had some good French restaurants.
Waitress Helping with the Menu
Between the waitress’s lack of English and my lack of French, I ended up with stewed vertebrae for lunch. It was actually very good.
HMS Diamond Rock
Back when the Europeans entertained themselves by floating around in wooden ships firing cannons at each other, Diamond Rock was fortified with cannons and registered as a warship. From the top of the HMS Diamond Rock the English were able to enforce a blockade of Martinique for almost 18 months. Today, whenever a British vessel passes the HMS Diamond Rock, the crew stands at attention and salutes the rock.
We will be back to Martinique.