We have picked three Caribbean islands for our nine days´ winter break. First out is Martinique.
Martinique and Guadeloupe are both French oversea departments (DOM), which mean they are hundred percent French. This allows passengers to fly with Air France on a very reasonable domestic fare the other side of the Atlantic. Even from Oslo, we only pay 4.500 NOK for a roundtrip ticket Oslo- Paris- Martinique.
We have prebooked a hotell room in a small village on the southwestern end of Martinique, with the alluring name “Le Diamant”. The name derives from the solitary rock that rises 175 meters straight up from the sea four kilometers from the mainland. When the sunlight hits it in a special way, the rock is said to illuminate like a diamond.
From pirates´s shelter to bird paradise
Today the Le Diamant rock is an idyllic nesting place for numerous seabirds. If we go was two hundred years back in time, we would get right into a scene of fierce fighting between the French and British. The cliff´s many caves were ideal hiding places for both the English and the French war fleets and cannons. Today, life in the village is peaceful and laid back. Despite the long golden beach with coconut palms hanging diagonally across the water, there are no huge beach hotel complexes to be seen. Two or three souvenir shops and five-six restaurants are all we count along the main street. The ambiance is really quiet and laid back.As a curiosity, the village host something as rare a sea shell museum. Musee du Coquillage has a collection of more than 4,000 shells and conches from all corners of the world. If this was thirty years ago, I´d be the first one to line up in front of the door in the morning.
Fantastic view- medium standard
Our hotel, Marine Hotel Diamond, is situated in a quiet lush area, a fifteen minutes´ walk from downtown Diamant. The hotel has some of the finest location I’ve ever seen, with a large swimming pool, water slide, and a lovely garden with a tennis court, flowers and view towards the Diamond Rock. From the terrace we also see the contours of Les deux pitons, the two peaks on the neighboring island Saint Lucia. Unfortunately, the room standard is not matching the standard of the garden and the view. The first thing that greets us in the bathroom is the smells of old moisture and damp, and the water tap in mini kitchen on the terrace is loose. Still, I like the idea of an outdoor kitchen on the terrace, and we’re doing just fine for a short stay. The stunning views and pool garden make up for the negative things. You get what pay for, and roughly US $ 80 a day without breakfast is not exactly meeting the upscale standards in the French Caribbean. The hotel restaurant only offers takeaway dinner in the evening, and after the first evening experience with a well- above-the-average dry pizza, we decided to leave it there for the rest of the stay. The hotel bar’s turquoise cocktail with the timely name “swimming pool” was however worth its 5.95 euros. Fortunately there are better and more affordable eateries down in the village.
Favourite restaurants in town
To find a good restaurant that is open at sunset around 18 o´clock is not as easy. Most formal dining places open at 19 o’clock, but we find a casual pizza and salad place called Les Mille Pattes, meaning “Centipede”, or “Tusenbenet” in Norwegian, Here is the dining area both inside and out, WiFi, not to mention very friendly staff. I order a seafood salad, which turns out to be a tapas-ish dish with various fried and grilled shellfish. This is much better than expected, not at least with an ice-cold Carib beer. My friend Nina is more than happy with the local pizza and the local Lorriane blonde beer. “Les Milles Pattes” is definitely worth more visits: Good, reasonably priced food and drinks, and more informal and friendly than the other restaurants we have seen in town.
On the very last day I notice a door sign saying “Mams 223” on my afternoon walk through the town. A small anonymous door, which was closed last time I went past, is now open. I keep on forgetting that the restaurants are only open at lunchtime and in the evening in these parts of the world. In addition, many places are closed and Mondays. Today it is Tuesday, and a menu with promises of Creole specialties, fish and shellfish is hanging on the entrance door.
Through the door I look straight out on the crooked palm trees and the blue sea with the Diamant rock in the background.
-Oui! Ca y est! This is todays unplanned lunch place!
It is the last day in paradise for this time, so I’ll grant myself a late lunch all alone. My friend Nina will be just fine alone at the poolside for another hour. I ask for a table on the edge of the terrace, with the world’s most exotic view. I can almost touch the sand beneath me, while still sitting high enough to avoid the wet swells coming in from the sea.
After ten minutes, delicious grilled king prawns and an ice cold Pina Colada appear on the table. Suddenly, the EU and France seem light years away. This is the taste and feel of the Caribbean. The price of seven euros for the shrimp and equally seven for the rum and pineapple milkshake, is less than expected in such a fine place. Anyway, Martinique is not exactly an inexpensive place to eat out in exotic restaurants every day. But tomorrow we go home!…