Martinique will be within easy reach of U.S. travelers during the winter 2016/2017 peak travel season thanks to a seasonal expansion in nonstop flights aboard Norwegian Air and American Airlines from four major U.S. gateways – New York, Miami, Boston, and Baltimore/Washington, DC.
Beginning November 10, 2016, Norwegian Air will resume seasonal service connecting three major gateways in the Northeast – New York, Boston, and Baltimore/Washington, DC. – with Martinique. New York service will operate three times per-week, while travelers based in Boston and Baltimore/Washington, DC enjoy twice-weekly options as follows:
Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays (starting November 10, 2016)
JFK / FDF: Departing 1:20 p.m. Arriving 7:15 p.m.
FDF / JFK: Departing 8:05 a.m. Arriving noon
Mondays & Fridays (starting November 11, 2016)
BWI / FDF: Departing 1:00 p.m. Arriving 6:25 p.m.
FDF / BWI: Departing 8:10 a.m. Arriving 11:40 a.m.
Wednesdays & Sundays (starting November 13, 2016)
BOS / FDF: Departing 1:00 p.m. Arriving 6:30 p.m.
FDF / BOS: Departing 8:00 a.m. Arriving 11:40 a.m.
American Airlines, which operates year-round nonstop flights to Martinique from Miami, will increase its service to daily during the peak Christmas/New Year’s holiday period – December 15, 2016 to January 8, 2017. This builds upon American’s up to 6x’s weekly service during the winter months.
The new home of luxury travel in Martinique, French Coco, opened July 1, 2016. Blending elegance and comfort with nature and the Creole spirit of Martinique, the 4-star hotel belongs to the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World (www.slh.com).
Located in Tartane, on the border of the Caravelle Peninsula Natural Reserve, French Coco is comprised of 17 suites encompassing four categories.
Nathanaël Ducteil, a former apprentice of celebrity chef Alain Ducasse, leads the kitchen at French Coco. Sourcing ingredients from local fishermen and French Coco’s on-site organic garden, Chef Nathanaël creates contemporary Caribbean cuisine blending tradition and modernity.
Bringing guests as close to nature as possible without actually leaving them exposed to the elements, Le Domaine de Bulles, which translates to “The Field of Bubbles,” is a new eco-lodge located in the town of Vauclin on Martinique’s south Atlantic coast. As its name implies, accommodations here consist of a series of clear bubbles, each of them nestled in lush, natural surroundings ensuring privacy.
All four of the bubble accommodations are air-conditioned.
The newest haven for haute cuisine in the West Indies, La Table de Marcel is headed by Martinique-native and Michelin-starred chef Marcel Ravin, who returns to his homeland following a celebrated 16-year tenure at the helm of the famed Blue Bay Restaurant within the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco. La Table de Marcel promises a singular dining experience. The ambiance blends sleek and modern décor with the seaside romantic charm of historic Fort-de-France. The restaurant seats only 24, ensuring intimate culinary explorations and highly attentive service. Chef Marcel’s creations, though, are the main attractions. As with his star turn in Monaco, Chef Marcel employs his trademark innovative style, combining local spices, herbs, and Creole seasonings with traditional French flavors in crafting meals that are more sensory adventures than simple lunches and dinners.
Contemporary art has a new home, at the stunning Fondation Clément. The foundation showcases the depth and vibrancy of contemporary art in the Caribbean, and especially in Martinique; a perfect place for art lovers, like nowhere else in the Caribbean. Located on the historic grounds of Habitation Clément, where the legend of Rhum Clément was born in 1887, the new museum builds upon Fondation Clément’s proud tradition of steadfast support for the arts. Whereas this tradition was once embodied in exhibitions and installations at La Case à Léo and other areas scattered around Habitation Clément, the new museum provides a permanent home.
Fondation Clément is open daily from 9am to 6pm. Admission is free.
Rhum JM, among Martinique’s most celebrated heritage brands, received the top overall award at the recently concluded Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. The event widely lauded as the “World Championship for Wine and Spirits,” attracted more than 10,000 wine and spirit entries from around the world. Rhum JM topped them all, taking home the Spirit Selection Best Trophy awarded annually to the world’s best overall spirit. Rhum JM also took home two gold medals in the agricultural rum category for the JM Armagnac Cask Finish and the JM 1999 Vintage (15 years). Concours Mondial de Bruxelles awards were determined by 75 professional tasters representing 24 individual countries.
Raising the bar on exclusive connoisseurial spirits to new and heretofore unimagined levels of luxury, Martinique’s famed Rhum Clement recently formed an alliance with elite French jeweler Tournaire to launch the world’s most expensive bottle of rum. Espousing Tournaire’s signature style of exquisite architectural jewelry, the new Clement–Tournaire bottle is distinguished by a miniature replica of the historic Great House located on the grounds of the Rhum Clement Distillery carefully crafted to exacting detail in gold and diamonds. Treasures extend within the bottle as well, with vintage 1966 Clement equaling the jewels atop the bottle. Estimated price: 100,000 euros.
Rhum Neisson, the smallest rum-producer in Martinique and the last 100% family-owned distillery on the island, announced recently that it has secured the world’s first bio-organic certification for rum. The designation was made by ECOCERT, a certification organization founded in France in 1991 by agronomists to develop agriculture that respects the environment and provide recognition to those who engage in this organic farming. ECOCERT-approved bio-organic rum produced by Rhum Neisson will be available for purchase in Martinique beginning in December 2016.
Muriel Wiltord, Director Americas for the Martinique Promotion Bureau, commented on the latest developments within the island’s rhum industry, saying: “Our island-wide ‘Route des Rhums’ tour connecting all 10 of Martinique’s distilleries has always been a great attraction for spirits lovers. Now, with these latest awards and innovations, a rum journey to Martinique is even more of a must.”
Just as wine lovers travel to France to tour La Route des Vins to discover the finest wines, spirits enthusiasts can revel in the best rums by traveling Martinique’s Route des Rhums.
The island has 10 distilleries producing more than 15 varieties of rums du terroir, as well as many local liquors made from rum. A visitor will soon realize that there is a rum for every palate, and the passionate connoisseur will appreciate Martinique’s vintage dark rum, often compared to a superb cognac.
Free samples are available at each distillery. Visitors can also purchase local rums throughout the island, including upon departure from Lamentin Airport at La Case à Rhum.
Two-thirds of Martinique is protected parkland, and the entire island offers visitors great opportunities to hike, ride, or paddle through an amazing variety of natural landscapes.
Martinique’s well-maintained network of hiking trails extends eighty miles, taking you through beaches, bays, and mountain rainforests. You can also horseback ride, mountain bike, or go on a kayaking or canoeing excursion to a mangrove swamp or an off-shore islet. Another popular activity is canyoning, which involves climbing to the top of a waterfall, looking down into the mists of the tumbling waters—and jumping.
The Caribs called Martinique the Isle of Flowers—and no wonder! The island’s warm, humid climate is ideal for blazing-red bougainvilleas, white frangipani, and about a hundred species of orchids. Rainforest trees also abound. Mahogany, magnolias, and bamboo all stand proud at about sixty-five feet. Yet they’re dwarfed by yellow mangroves, chestnuts, and white gum trees, which can grow twice as high! On the beaches, you’ll find palm trees, sea grapes, and manchineel trees, while the coastal swamps are the domain of the mangroves trees, whose exposed roots soar like flying buttresses above the water.
France gave Martinique its wonderful tradition of delicious breads, cheeses, and charcuterie as well as soufflé, bouillabaisse, and filet mignon. Creole cuisine is a blend of local ingredients—shellfish, pork, beef, coconuts, bananas, and spices—and ingredients from around the Caribbean and even Africa, Europe, and India.
The result is mouthwatering dishes like green papaya gratin, crayfish soup, and codfish fritters called accras. Martinique also produces great rum. The island’s ten distilleries are the only ones in the world to be awarded the designation Appellation d’Origine Controlée, a label typically associated with excellent French wines. Now it’s also associated with excellent Martinican rums. And why not? Like wine, rum is aged in oak barrels and is comparable to fine cognac.
Just as wine lovers visit France to savor the best of French wine while traveling along La Route des Vins, rum connoisseurs head to Martinique to experience some of the world’s finest rums by traveling La Route des Grands Rhums.
A former sugar cane plantation estate dated from 1658, Habitation is now an eco-friendly tourist site located in the outskirts of scenic Le Prêcheur. This natural site offers discovery trail itineraries though majestic gardens and rivers. Its sugar and cassava refinery ruins are still standing, a testament to the island’s remarkable history. Nestled between Martinique’s majestic mountains, fine volcanic black sand beaches, and rivers, the estate backs up against an Integral Biological Reserve.
Fort-de-France, Capital City
The city of Fort-de-France is tucked between a natural harbor on the west (Caribbean) coast and steep hills. Served by Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport (FDF) and home to the Tourelles and Pointe Simon ship terminals, this is a bustling city with historic sites such as Le Fort Saint Louis, great architecture such as the Saint-Louis Cathedral and Schoelcher Library, a promenade along the waterfront, La Savane Park, history and ethnographic museums, restaurants and clubs.
Balata Botanical Garden
This garden about six miles from the city on N7 and designed in the 1980s by horticulturalist Jean Philippe Thoze, is a must-see. The mini-gardens within the huge property feature 3,000 kinds of tropical plants, including 300 varieties of palm trees alone. Flowering anthuriums, begonias, bromeliads, and heliconia burst with color, and behind the gatehouse, feeders attract flocks of hummingbirds.
436 square miles (50 miles long and 22 miles across at its widest point), or 1,12 8 square kilometers.
Temperatures average 79°F with two regular alternating wind currents (les Alizés) keeping the island cool. There is only about a 5° difference between average summer and winter temperatures.
Nestled in the heart of the Lesser Antilles between Dominica to the north and St. Lucia, Martinique lies 1,965 miles from New York, 1,470 miles from Miami, 425 miles from San Juan, and 4,261 miles from Paris.
Both local and international car rental services (Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz) operate in Martinique, as do taxis and car services. In Fort-de-France, taxi stands in areas of touristic interest make it easy for people to find an empty cab.