Saturday, January 12, 2013


We have spent a couple of days wandering around Fort-de-France the capital of Martinique. The town has been rebuilt many times. After the fire of 1890 and the hurricane 1891 many of the public buildings were reinforced with a metal skeleton.

The most striking of such buildings is the Schoelcher Library. Displayed at the World Fair of 1889 in Paris before being dismantled and transported to Fort-de-France. At first it accommodated the collection of books offered by the abolitionist Victor Schoelcher now it has the resources of a modern library and remains open to all.

It also provides space for local artists to display their talents.

The designer Henri Picq was also responsible for the cathedral.

Britain passed the first law in 1807 banning the slave trade and finally banned slavery in 1833 but it was not until 1848 the final decree of abolition of slavery was signed by the Victor Schoelcher in Martinique.

Those buildings were both magnificent but it is the back streets full of narrow three, four or five story wall houses, most with metal balconies that exactly match the look of old French towns that charmed us most. A total change from the housing of the English speaking islands, these houses are mostly decaying gracefully with the odd one or two being spruced up and re roofed.

We also liked this little bridge,

and some of the well executed graffiti.

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