Unlike many other Caribbean countries that achieved independence from European conquerors by the mid-twentieth century, Martinique is not a country at all, but rather a portion of France, similar to how Hawaii is a state of the United States. Martinique has the same political standing as any other EU member state due to this union, and arriving upon the island may give you an overpowering Gallic feeling. The terrible 1902 volcanic eruption, which is still regarded as one of the most destructive natural disasters of the twentieth century, was one of Martinique’s most noteworthy occurrences.

Because of the close ties to France, the Martinique holidays generally overlap. Martinique observes Bastille Day, which commemorates the founding of the French Republic. Martinique’s Beaujolais “nouveau” celebrations in November, which mark the arrival of the first harvest of the grape that produces a punchy and fresh red wine, are popular. Martinique, however, has an authentic Caribbean culture, and the most fantastic celebration of the year is the four-day “Vaval,” which is akin to Mardi Gras carnivals across the world.

There are restaurants all across Martinique, most at Fort de France or Trois-Illets, but there are plenty of other possibilities. La Bredas (Saint Joseph, Fort de France) serves Creole cuisine from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Coiba (a native selfish) paired with yam (a kind of cassava) stewed in Maidera (a fortified wine) sauce is one of the French dishes on the menu.

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