Thursday, July 07, 2016

Makeover in Martinique

With its first hotel in 15 years, new non-stop flights, and a surge in excellent restaurants, Martinique's capital, Fort-de-France, is about to become a thing.

From an approaching boat Fort-de-France is clearly framed between history and modernity. On one end is the 17th century Fort St-Louis, the oldest building in town and one of the Caribbean's best preserved forts. An active military base, it houses 200 members of the French navy. On the other is Pointe Simon, a gleaming business district. It's a visible sign of the changes that have come to the island, which also include a modernized sea-front, restaurants from young entrepreneurs, and electric cabs you can hail for exploring the city.

There's news on the hotel front, too: surrounded by multi-colored houses, the renovated Fort Savane is a minimalist boutique property with black and white touches. The first hotel to be built in the city in 15 years, the 94-room Simon Hotel recently opened.

Yann Chalono has re-created the Brazilian atmosphere and tastes of his youth at Favela (7 Rue de la Liberation; 596-596-79-41-72; entrees $14-$28) There's ambitious mixology going on as well and sorbets made with local fruits at Le Cloud (Rue Ernest Hemingway; 596-696-27-56-73) an industrial-looking rooftop bar. And the best gelato in the area is at Coco Bello (Village Creole).

There is no real gay nightlife to speak of, but there is a gay scene for those with insider info. If you get friendly with someone on grindr or if you happen to meet someone discreetly at any number of the mainstream bars, you may get invited to a private garden party or rave. If you don't, no worries. We are talking about Martinique, a French governed destination, which means homosexuality has been legal for generations, even though many attitudes can still be conservative. Gay marriage has been legal on the island since 2013, so if you're considering a fabulous destination wedding...

Martinique does have gay-owned and friendly accommodations. Check out There is a beach frequented by gay residents and travelers in Les Salines. You can also get information about gay culture on the island through their only LGBT agency JM Concept

Resources for this post are Travel & Leisure magazine as well as This Youtube clip is quite informative about Martinique, its culture and emergence as an upcoming Caribbean hotspot!

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