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Guadeloupe & Martinique: Overseas France Series

Updated on March 10, 2020

Previous article from 'Overseas France Series' here: French Guiana.

From South America, we move to the Caribbean to talk about another two interesting regions that happen to not be considered countries, but instead are overseas territories of France. These are Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The islands are two separate French departments. They are located in the eastern Caribbean sea. Here is some information and interesting facts about both regions, what you can visit, local food you can try, as well as activities to do there:


Guadeloupe

Port-Louis beach, Guadeloupe
Port-Louis beach, Guadeloupe

This island archipelago is known for its lovely soft white and black sandy beaches, making it highly touristic all year round. But the island does not fail to attract visitors for its beautiful mountainous regions, lush rainforests, volcanoes and waterfalls.

It is located south of Montserrat (British overseas territory) and Antigua and Barbuda, and north of Dominica, which are independent island countries.

What to see and do?

You can first visit Basse-Terre, which is the capital of the department, and is named after the island it is located on, carrying the same name. The other big island is Grande-Terre. There are many other smaller numerous islands that you can visit as well.

Some worthy landmarks include Carbet Falls, La Grande Soufrière stratovolcano (where the highest mountain peak in the eastern Caribbean islands is located), Guadeloupe National Park, Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve, Jardin Botanique de Deshaies (botanical garden), Sainte Anne Beach (the most popular beach), and a lot more.

There are too many sights in a small package, so the best thing to do is see with your own eyes what this gorgeous place has to offer.

Martinique

Seaside in Martinique
Seaside in Martinique

Another Caribbean pearl is Martinique. It is the other big French overseas territory in the Antilles, situated north of Saint Lucia and south of Dominica. Similarly to Guadeloupe and the other Caribbean islands, Martinique also has beautiful beaches and sufficient tourism.

Some places worth to visit may include the tropical rainforest near Fond St-Denis, Les Salines beach, Balata Botanical Garden, Fort-de-France (the capital), Les Trois-Ilets, etc.

Abundant nature does not miss on this island, neither do the tourist sites. For whatever purposes, visiting this beautiful place would be beneficial and likely a very positive experience for most.

But what is common for both regions, other than the similar climate and location proximity?

Language & Culture

In both Guadeloupe and Martinique, French is the official and administrative language. However, slightly more spoken is Antillean Creole, a French-based creole language, spoken not only in those two regions, but in Saint Lucia, Dominica, Grenada and many other countries in the Caribbean. It shares a lot of similarities with Haitian Creole and French Guianese Creole. Some English is spoken mostly in touristic areas, so picking up a few basic French phrases would come in handy if traveling to these regions.

When it comes to culture and history, both places have had an unfortunate past of slavery and colonization, but now they are a great place for carnivals, and with a rich music and art scene. Even though the islands are small, there is no shortage of culture, so they are unique destinations to visit for an unforgettable experience.

Winter Carnival, Guadeloupe
Winter Carnival, Guadeloupe

Food

One word that can sum up the cuisine in the regions is - variety. Caribbean food has been influenced by many cuisines in general. You can find Indian, African, French and more influences. The nice climate makes it suitable for growing a variety of different fruits, vegetables and spices. Delicious seafood is abundant on these two regions, as it is in the rest of the Caribbean cuisines.

The typical and most popular dish in Martinique is Colombo, which is a unique curry chicken with spiced masala. Other common dishes are: Accra (fritters), Dorade (grilled sea bream with potatoes, rice and spices), Blanc Manger au Coco (dessert with coconut milk and vanilla), Ti Punch (Martinique's national cocktail), and a lot more.

In Guadeloupe, the most popular food is a Bokit sandwiche, which is made from friend dough and can have many and different fillings inside. Some dishes like Accra and Ti Punch are very common here as well. But if you visit, do not miss the chance to try Coco Flan, which is another tasty dessert with coconut milk.

Fritters with rice, plantains and salad
Fritters with rice, plantains and salad

These two territories share a lot of similarities in terms of culture, climate, food, and both have a lot to see. They are just two of France's different and many faces, and more of them are coming soon.

© 2019 Tery Peta

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Different cultures are interesting and always a fascinating part of any culture. I learned a lot from this hub.

    • Tory Peta profile imageAUTHOR

      Tery Peta 

      16 months ago from Bulgaria

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, Martinique is definitely one of the places where you cannot fully rely on English. But it is a great opportunity for picking up a few new words and phrases in another language while connecting you better with the culture of the region. Despite of the difficulties, I am glad that you have enjoyed the islands.

    • JC Scull profile image

      JC Scull 

      16 months ago from Gainesville, Florida

      Good article. Great pair of islands. Great culture. I got lost driving around Martinique and had a heck of a time getting directions, since it was difficult to communicate with the locals. My French is horrible!! Finally figured out how to get where I was going. Thanks for sharing.

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