La vie est belle en Martinique!

Somehwen in 2015 I came up with the decisision that I want to do something for improving my language skills in French. Some of you probably know that I don't like winter time too much. For that reason I was looking for opportunities with a more tropical climate and ended up in January 2016 in Martinique in the Carribean which belongs to France. I booked a 4 weeks language stay living in a Carribean Homestay and extending the stay with two weeks of holidays to get around other islands. One day I was even working as I do have customers on the island and I took the chance to visit them too, but beside that I was glad that I could arrange a deal with unpaid holidays to make this stay happen.  As I experienced a great organisation during my stay in Australia, I decided to book through the same organisation Boalingua again and I didn't get disappointed. By the way, if somebody is interested in reading my experience in German, I have written a guestblog Entry for Boalingua which you can find here.

What I heard a lot before I left: What? Martinique? You will never learn proper French there, they use a lot of slang and mix it up with their Créole. Who said I am into learning perfectly French and having not that much fun staying in a room for entire day? Fair enough i would say :) and it looked like I still learned something as I passed successfully the DELF B2 Certification test back in Switzerland one month later. But that's another story, continuing with my trip now:


After a long way (Train to Geneva, Flight to Paris, change Airport in Paris by Bus, Flight to Martinique, don't ask me why I booked that way, I think there are better options now), I finally arrived in Martinique. By Taxi I got to my hosts Eliane & Serge whose children are adults and here daughter has three kids including twin babies who are living on another floor in the same appartment. My family for the next 4 weeks were super nice, they took great care of me - cooked fantastic, introduced me to their family and friends, including good insights into the rum culture and I really enjoyed the stay there.


The school was located in the capital of Martinqiue, in Fort-de-France. I went there by bus, there is no schedule, I didn't find out the rules about when a bus is coming. You just have to go to the bus station and hope the best. Luckily my stop was on a route to / from an university and therefore the bus was driving more regularly than in other places. The drive took about 15 minutes which was quite comfy, especially when the school starts at 8.30 am. 

Most of my other school friends stayed on the other side of the island (les Trois-Ilets) and they had do take the ferry to get to school. 
The language school itself is pretty small with two classes. As you can book a language class for one week only, we did had new schoolmates every week. I really liked the big range of different ages as well as different nationalities. Obviously the Swiss are everywhere and hence we got a long very well, we spent most of our free time together. 
We were two at the beginning who booked a standard course only (non-intense class) and we decided that we have to organize a car to rent. Else you don't have a lot of chance to get around the island. First advice if you will ever go to Martinique: YOU NEED A CAR! The streets are usually not too bad, there is even a high-way. You just need to know as the streets are not too bad, the people are driving insanely and like there's no tomorrow and you will maybe see some accidents.

When we were off school, we often took the ferry to the beaches or the nice beachbar or the car for getting further away and exploring the island.

What I can recommend:

  • Trip to les gorges de la falaise - fun adventure walking through the small canyon in the refreshing water
  • Lilly's Beachbar - the Bar is close to where I stayed. It has a nice small beach where you can enjoy the carribean water and it has a lot of people in the evening as there is a hotel and a casino next to it too.
  • Sunday evenings in Ti'Sable - you have to know, on sundays Fort-de-France is dead. No cruiseships coming, therefore no people, no shops open. But what is super cool is going to Ti'Sable on Sunday evening. There is a great BBQ buffet with fish and meat and afterwards concerts in the sandy beach under a sky full of stars - just amazing!
  • Visiting a Rum distillery is a must. I have been to two - Neisson as my hostfather said this is the best rum you can get! (and close from Fort-de-France) I took some rum back home from there, as it's really the best :)
    But I have to say that the Distillerie Clément is set up very very nicely and charming and I highly recommend to check that out and you can still decide where you want to buy the rum to bring back home :) You have to know that rum is not produced during the entire year, might be that the machines stand still. You will see more at Clement, but on the other hand the walk around Neisson is for free.
  • You have to try at least once a Ti Punch and a Planteur, you will most probably prefer the Planteur :). My favorite Rumdrink was Punch Coco which is too tasty to be true!
  • The carribean kitchen is great, especially if you're into fish. You should try once Acras - perfectly for appetizer. What I never thought about, but it's incredibly delicious is the  black pudding (in German Blutwurst) Creole Style! I can't discribe, it's just completely different to the one I know from here. Might be the spices, I don't know - just try it out and watch out for boudin on the menu!
    I liked the restaurants in Pointe du Bout - you get there by ferry from Fort-de-France and it's a nice tourist village where you get holiday feeling immediately. At L'Annexe you get awesemoe hotstone menues for 16 EUR. At the same place when you walk a bit further in Anse Mitan you get to the Barracuda bar where we used to hangout after school and got addicted to Desperados Rouge (Despi Rouge). It's directly at the beach and you can see wonderful sunsets before taking the last ferry back. The ferry sometimes stops directly close to that beach (the other stop is just 10 minutes away by foot) and the guys on the ferry will tell you where they are going and where it will stop.
  • Martinique has beautiful beaches, we stayed several times at la Grand anse des Salines - when you have a car you can get around and check it out. Also Le Diamant is a beautiful place, however the current is too strong there for swimming.
  • If you have enough time, you can always get away by ferry to other islands close by. We did once a weekend trip to St. Lucia which was pretty cool apart from the ferry ride. If even the residents get seasick on that ferry, you can imagine how comfy the ride can be. More about St. Lucia here.
  • As mentioned earlier - you need a car - explore the island it has beautiful places.
  • Follow the flow of the people - PANI PVOBLEM (meaning of "no problem" in créole) will become your Mantra.
  • Extend your holidays by visiting other Carribean island - see my entries for Dominica, Guadeloupe and St. Lucia
  • Take a day off and enjoy a catamaran ride with cool stopps spotting dolphins and having nice drinks on the boat :)
  • Plan enough time if you have something specific in mind. There are not many roads and the island is like a banana, meaning it takes a lot of time to get somewhere where you would be faster by ferry - but the schedule of the ferry is limited.
  • Martinique seems a hotspot for kite surfers too and we got people in school who just came to the islands for practising. I liked to watch them, but as I haven't tried it out by myself, I can't judge. This and surfing in general can be found on the east coast of the island.

What I can not recommend:

  • get bitten by mosquitos. Ok you can't avoid it, especially if you have sweet blood like I seem to have. My hostfamily did the best for protecting me against this bloody monsters. But it happend that I got Zika. Well it was not too bad and as long as you are healthy overall and not pregnant, you don't get in danger. 
  • Planning a trip without any car. It doesn't work out easily. 
  • Keep in mind where you want to stay. By car everything is more accessible, however the bus system (apart from my line) is non-existing as public transport in general.
    Neither the ferry system is too intelligent. There is one stop (trois-ilets) where most of the people stayed. This station by car is only 10 minutes away to pointe du bout, however the ferry doesn't drop you off there. Instead, you have to go back by ferry to Fort-de-France and from there on take another ferry to point-du-bout (ferry takes about 25 -30 minutes one way)
  • Go into town on a Sunday when no cruise ship is arriving.
  • Plan to go to other carribean island which don't belong to France and aren't connected with the Ferry - its complicated starting from Martinique.

If you follow these rules, you will experience PANI PWOBLEM and love it!