Today we spent the morning ashore exploring the town of Fort de France. It is an interesting blend of Caribbean and French, but clearly mainly French! We enjoyed a cheap and tasty breakfast - not much is cheap in the Caribbean.
The town is arranged in a grid with narrow roads which makes it cosy. Amongst the tightly packed shops in the centre of town one finds larger properties which are all the more impressive. Examples are the Hotel de Ville (now used as a theatre), the Bibliotheque (library) and the Prefecture (government) buildings.
Hotel de Ville
We looked around Bibliotheque Schoelhcher which is organised very traditionally with a circular gallery of book galleries above a central foyer. The building is very famous for its architecture and is certainly impressive and eye-catching. M Schoelcher was a prominent anti-slavery campaigner.
Beautiful architecture of Bibliotheque Schoelcher
We visited the Musee d'Histoire et d'Ethnographie which had lots of interesting paintings, maps, documents and general displays. It featured a local man Joseph Zobel who died aged 91 in 2006 who studied in Martinique and Paris (in the 1930s) before travelling broadly and returning home.
The Marche Covert is very lively and colourful. It offers not only fruit and veg but also craft products and a wide array or fruit liqeurs and rum punches.
We then arranged a tour of Fort Saint-Louis. According to the guide the fort has protected Fort de France for centuries, although the British did take it once or twice! The guide described how the French fought off the Dutch in one battle by cunningly leaving their stocks of rum outside the fort. The Dutch solders found the rum which substantially reduced their fighting spirit. Meanwhile the French had evacuated the fort fearing defeat. According to legend one drunk Frenchman "held the fort" overnight and the garrison returned the next morning when the French realised the Dutch had gone back to their ships. Glorious victory! ;)
The fort is very large and only 1/3 is open to the public (with a guide only). The rest is still an active military post, housing the French Caribbean squadron which is apparently mainly engaged in drug interdiction at present. The naval ships dock on the E side of the fort. There is a small marina and the cruise ship dock on the other side of that bay. The fort is also home to hundreds of iguanas!
View of town from the fort
This afternoon we spent a few hours on boat jobs and relaxing. We continued the never ending s/s polishing and also scrubbed the deck, something we haven't done (other than just washing down) for some time. Much whiter now!
We plan to enjoy another cheap French breakfast ashore tomorrow before clearing out and heading north towards Dominca later tomorrow.
Trust all's well where you are!