Depart Fort-de-France by bus. This capital city was once named Fort Royal and is the administrative center of Martinique with 110,000 inhabitants. Fort-de-France is famous for its setting on beautiful Fleming's Bay. You are headed to Balata Church—a 20-minute drive from the capital. This tiny chapel is a miniature replica of the Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre in Paris and was built in 1925. Don’t miss the amazing view of the city and the bay. From there, proceed to the Botanic Gardens of Balata—the result of 20 years of flower and plant collecting by its owner. You will have almost an hour to discover a multitude of plants and flowers harmoniously placed throughout the grounds. The reception hall is located in an authentic Creole house, completely renovated to modern standards and quite a beautiful building. You will see also an assortment of local fruits and vegetables. From there, you’ll follow La Trace Road, which began life not as a road at all but rather as a track hewn by the Jesuits in the 18th century. It is lined with enormous bamboo plants and giant ferns and lianas. At the foot of the volcano Mount Pelée, you will pass through the village of Morne Rouge (Red Hill)—totally destroyed during a 1902 eruption that killed more than 1,000 people. Even more devastated was Saint Pierre—now perhaps the most famous place in Martinique, albeit for tragic reasons. The same eruption killed 30,000 people in Saint Pierre—the sole survivor was in fact a prisoner who was being kept in an underground dungeon. Saint Pierre is now France’s 101st City of Art & History. Step inside the vulcanology museum for a sad but interesting look at the mass destruction caused by Pelée. Pass through the fishing village of Le Carbet, where Christopher Columbus landed in 1502 and Paul Gauguin once lived and painted. The village church was built in 1645. Further along, in Bellefontaine, keep an eye out for the rather unusual house that’s shaped like a boat, and in Case Pilote, you’ll see the island’s oldest church, built in the 1600s. A Carib Native chief had a house in the cove here and was known to be an unusually peaceful man within a more battle-inclined tribe. En route back to the ship you’ll pass Schœlcher Village, named in honor of slavery abolitionist Victor Schoelcher.
Average Customer Rating:
(6 Reviews) 6
Rating Snapshot(6 reviews)
3 out of 6(50%)reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for St. Pierre & Botanical Garden
OK this is the tropics and it rains frequently. We brought umbrellas but they were useless in the driving rain as we tried to exit the ship & board the bus. Funny HAL always sells bottled water at the gangway but no vinyl (cheap) ponchos especially when it is raining, which would be a step forward in customer service. I do not mind getting wet on an excursion but I do not want to start and excursion soaking wet. We passed & stayed on the ship even though we'd paid for the excursion.
We had a very knowledgeable guide named Franchesca for this tour and a new modern coach to travel in. She pointed out many interesting things as we drove around. The church and museum were ok but the Balata gardens were just beautiful - it was like being in paradise! A must-see experience for those who enjoy nature and beautiful scenery.
I was extremely disappointed in this excursion. The island is beautiful, but the guides were some of the worst. There was very little information about the island given, but instead the guide told inappropriate stories of dead bodies, people being eaten alive, etc. I wish I could get some of those mental images out of my head, but unfortunately they're stuck now. We then went to the the volcano museum, which is nothing more than two rooms with photos and a few artifacts. The people there were rude as well, calling my father lazy because we asked if there was a bench he could sit on as his knees were bothering him. The tour actually had many steps on uneven surfaces and was much more difficult than stated. It was not very accessible for those with difficulty walking. The tour guide often walked faster than we were able, leaving us wondering where he was and where to go. To top it all off, at the end of the tour, the driver of the bus next to us stepped out of his bus (same company) and urinated on the bushes in front of us. This was definitely NOT a good experience!.
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
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5out of6found this review helpful.
Review 4 for St. Pierre & Botanical Garden
Disappointed and very expensive for what was given
We did the trip in reverse of how this description was written. We saw all of the places mentioned at the end, but only in passing & very quickly. As we had a couple of folks that were late getting to the bus, we only stopped in St. Pierre for 20 minutes and were only allowed to go to the museum. Based on the way I read the description we were going to have more time there & would be able to visit the prision location and other interesting parts of this town. That was one of the main reasons I decided to take this tour. The drive from there to the gardens was beatiful and our guide was very informative. However, when we arrived at the gardens, we were not divided up into any type of groups & unless you were very close to the guide you really did not know a lot about what you were seeing. We were all given a brochure as we exited the bus, but it was all in French. I know we were in a French country, but the other brochure we were given was in both languages. I would have enjoyed this much more had I really known what I was looking at. And yes, there were signs, but again they were in French and Latin. I think we stayed there much longer than necessary & could have been given more time at the village. To comment on the tour description, I saw no fruits or vegetables. Then we stopped at the church. This was lovely, but again too much time was allotted for this stop than was necessary. And the price was too much for what was offered. I answered "no" for recommendation only because I would like to tell a person my experience & then let them decide.
Beautiful island - one of our favorite stops of the cruise. The tour itinerary was excellent and we learned a lot from the tour guide. The gardens were amazing, so manicured - like a tropical Butchart. Could have used more time there. St Pierre was fascinating and the drive back across the island was quite an experience. A great tour.
Excellent overview of the island - which is a beautiful volcanic island - the stops on this tour are good photo opportunities and interesting. My only complaint was that there wasn't enough time at the botanical garden which has a big collection of amazing bamboo and palms. The volcanic ruins in St Pierre are worth seeing, especially if you've already seen Pompeii.