s/y Nine of Cups
The Windward Islands - Martinque
2002
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Mt. Pelee
Fort du France
St. Pierre
Martinique - French Overseas Territory  

Population:  ~300,000+
Area: 427 square miles
Highest point: Mt. Pelee (4800’);
          10th highest in the Carib
Currency: Euro
Language: French / Creole
Major industry: sugar, bananas, rum
Largest city:  Fort de France
Martinique is the largest of the Windward  
Islands,  has almost always been a part of  France.
The Windward Islands were
so-named by the British because to get
to any of them, a sail to windward was
required.  They include the countries or
territories of Martinique, St. Lucia, St.
Vincent and the Grenadines and
Grenada and all territorial islands
belonging to these countries.  
The passage from Dominica to Martinique
was terrific. We were heeled over so far our
rails spent most of their time in the water and
the jib sail was soaked.

We anchored in the historic little town of St.
Pierre…a delightful blend of French civility
and the exotic Caribbean.
A Creole welcome sign at the dock.
We anchored in the historic little town of St.
Pierre…a delightful blend of French civility
and the exotic Caribbean.
Waterfront square opposite the Bureau de
Tourisme.
The fresh market is held every Friday,
Saturday and Monday. Fruits, veggies
and flowers galore.  
The baskets of scarlet arthuriums really
caught my eye.
The main street is Rue  Victor Hugo and
it’s lined with every imaginable type of
shop and boutique including curbside
casket selection.
A sad-looking American flag hangs from
this balcony. We’ve seen many US flags
in our travels and had strangers go out of
their way to express sadness over
September 11th. They feel the effects
even here…tourism is way down and that’
s a major part of their livelihood.
View of Mt. Pelee on approach to Martinque.
St. Pierre is commemorating the 100th
anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Pelee which
totally destroyed the city in May 1902.

The volcano erupted on Ascension Day (May
28th) 1902 after giving sufficient warning of
ash and minor eruptions for weeks before.
The governor and business leaders felt the
problem would abate and refused to evacuate
the city. The volcano erupted and was
followed by a huge tidal wave resulting in the
total destruction of the town and the deaths of
29,933 people.  All but two of the inhabitants
were killed: a cobbler who found refuge in his
cellar and a famous prisoner, Cyparis, who
was locked in his cell.  
Cyparis' stone cell
L’Eglise de Mouillage (Church of the
Anchorage) was originally begun in 1654
but not completed with bell towers till
almost 1891. It was also called the
“Pirate’s Church” because  known pirates
attended Mass here  and donated booty
to the church.
Reminders of the disaster are everywhere
around the city.  New buildings are
attached to foundations of the old and the
ruins of several old buildings are still evident
as you walk along the streets and
alleyways. Above, part of the old city walls.
Most interesting were the ruins of the
theatre which was first built in 1786 and
restored in 1831-2 to resemble a
mini-version of the theatre in Bordeaux.
A black & white photo above shows  
the grandeur of the  original  800-seat
theatre and below the ruins.
A view of St.Pierre harbor.
The local beer
Picture postcard perfect view of "Cups".
We rented a car for a day to tour  some of the island.  We climbed the steep, winding road up to the
summit of Mt. Pelee, but the views were hazy.  The  country side is lush and green. Banana
plantations and fruit trees of every description abound.

We also visited the largest city, Fort de France which reminded us of Point a Pitre in Guadeloupe,
but not as classy.  We did, however, have a chance to provision at a “hypermarche” which is the
ultimate in French supermarkets, but not unlike a Super K or Super Walmart in the U.S. Though we
purchased staples and meat, we couldn’t help but notice other offerings in the cases such as pig’s
ears, beef feet, mutton trunks, chicken paws and beef navels.  We stuck to hamburger and the local
beer!
Next stop, St. Lucia. Wanna come?
Click here! We're on our way!
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