Planning a Trip to the French Caribbean Islands

The Caribbean is made up of many islands. Some Spanish, some Dutch, and of course  some French too! Whether you are or are not of  descent, visiting a French island is always a fun escape to Europe within the tropics. Eating snails under the sun and drinking champagne? You will feel as if you’re in France in no time.

French island paradise Guadeloupe Clugny beach.

Image via Flickr.

There are currently 4 islands owned by France in the Caribbean:

Guadeloupe – made up of 5 islands

Martinique

St. Barth’s

St. Maarten

Language

When planning a trip to the French Caribbean, make sure you bring some handy French phrases with you. It’s always nice for the locals to hear “Bonjour” and “Merci”. Many will understand English but knowing some French will only make you fit in more.

Culture

Take time to learn about the culture. It will not be identical to that of Paris as there are influences from other cultures and past Indian tribes. Learn what they eat, how they drink their coffee, what dances they perform when a celebration comes around. Benguine is a mix of Latin folk and French dancing. You might even be invited to a Bélé, another type of dance that you may witness in the French Caribbean.

The Lands

The islands will be very different from France. Look for black sand beaches in Martinique, active volcanoes in Guadeloupe, and hills rolling in the distance in St. Maarten. Be sure to check out their plantations and distilleries – rum, sugar cane, and more. While not all cities have historical sites, make sure you ask where you can witness architecture, cathedrals, and cities that offer more than a beach and shopping. Fort-de-France in Martinique is a great stop as it was destroyed in the past and rebuilt. Grand Terre and Basse Terr in Guadeloupe are the two main islands which connect via a bridge and hold the most history.

Discover French Caribbean

The French Caribbean is sort of a hidden gem. It is not the best known area within the entire Caribbean so the crowds remain relatively lower than in other nearby islands. The islands are so small when one looks at a map, they sometimes go overlooked and not noticed. Since much of the land is not overrun with tourists, be sure to go off on your own. Discover the secret spots within these islands and your own oasis. You won’t need a huge hotel room to feel intimate or have privacy. You can find it out there in the lush, wild acres of the French Caribbean.

Getting There

Many airlines do not fly into the French Caribbean, but that is about to change.

Norwegian Airlines is just beginning new routes to Guadeloupe and Martinique December 1, 2015 from NYC – JFK Airport! Many of these flights are beginning from only $67 per one-way and including taxes.

Lastly, don’t forget your adapter! The French Caribbean uses 220 volts.

Which island would you visit in the French Caribbean?