Standing on the island's west coast by the Caribbean Sea, the capital of Martinique, formerly known as Fort-Royal, has a wealth of architectural and cultural heritage to discover.
Before taking a walk along the pleasant seafront, you should therefore take a look around the historic centre, with its colourful streets of shops. You'll find some splendid architecture, such as the famous Schoelcher library, built in an eclectic style. This building has a surprising past, as it was built in Paris then relocated and rebuilt in its entirety at Fort-de-France in the 19th century. Magnificent inside and out, with its combination of concrete, wrought iron and wood, it was originally intended to house the famous abolitionist Victor Schoelcher's famous collection of books and sheet music. Open to visitors, the library's mission today includes conserving historical documents relating to Martinique and the Antilles.
You also can't miss the superb Cathedral of St Louis, erected in the 19th century, with its impressive metal framework, original bell tower covered with aluminium scales, and its magnificent stained glass windows, five of which recount the life of St Louis. A little further along, on the seafront side, you can also admire the imposing form of Fort St Louis. Built in the 17th century and listed as a Historic Monument in 1973, it enjoys a direct view of the bay. Once the scene of terrible battles between the French and the English, today Fort St Louis is owned by the National Navy and can be explored on a guided tour.
Then enjoy a break on the huge garden square, Place de la Savane. Wander along its paths or simply take a rest beneath a royal palm or other tree. Created in the 18th century, it's a hub of Fort-de-France's social life.
If you want to know more about local culture and the history of Martinique, don't miss the Regional Museum of History and Ethnography. Based in a mansion dating back to 1887, the site hosts temporary exhibitions on the ground floor, and has a permanent exhibition upstairs with traditional costumes and Creole jewellery, as well as a drawing room, dining room, bedroom and bathroom that provide a glimpse of bourgeois life in the late 19th century.
Before you leave Fort-de-France, don't forget to pay a visit to the unmissable markets in the city centre, with the most famous and tourist-friendly being the big covered market. Offering many spices, souvenirs and all kinds of punch, it also has a lively atmosphere. Don't hesitate to visit the picturesque fruit and vegetable market in the floral park on Avenue Paul Nardal, an ideal place to stock up on fresh produce!