Recommend September 2017 - 6


Left: Shoelcher's Library. Right: Maison de la Bourse in Saint-Pierre.

Le Fort Saint-Louis (Fort-de-France): This 17th century, solid

stone stronghold, towering over Fort de France, is now open once
again and welcoming history-loving visitors inside her ramparts.
From the top of the fort, the visitor can enjoy one of the most
beautiful views of the majestic Fort-de-France Bay.
La Bibliotheque Schoelcher (Fort-de-France): With donations
from abolitionist Victor Schoelcher, this library was designed by
Eiffel colleague Pierre-Henri Picq, who gave it a gold-flecked
facade, a Byzantine dome, and light-loving Romanesque windows.
It debuted at the 1889 Paris Exposition, after which workmen
somehow dismantled it, shipped the entire masterpiece to
Martinique, and reassembled it. Serendipitously, they put it in
Fort-de-France instead of the soon-to-be-destroyed capital.
La Cathédrale Saint-Louis (Fort-de-France): Natural disasters
destroyed the first six cathedrals; so in 1890 Picq designed a
sturdy, Eiffel-inspired, iron Gothic Revival structure with a stone
exterior, 190-ft. tower, and a sumptuous interior featuring stained
glass windows and a massive organ.
La Savane (Fort-de-France): This restored downtown park
paralleling Rue de la Liberte features modern amenities and neat
vendors' stalls, but it's also a good place for viewing Fort SaintLouis. In addition, its 1859 statue of Empress Josephine is famous
for having been bloodied and beheaded by vandals, an indication
of how locals resent Josephine for having convinced Napoleon to
restore slavery.
Le Mémorial de l'Anse Cafard (Le Diamant): One of the most
moving public sculptures in the Caribbean, the Anse Cafard Slave

Memorial includes almost two dozen 8-ft. statues of African men,
heads bowed, facing the continent from which they were
abducted. The work commemorates both the sinking of a slave
ship in 1830 that drowned dozens of Africans chained below
decks, and the 150th anniversary of emancipation (1848).
Le Sacré Coeur de Balata (Fort-de-France): Four miles from
downtown, this hillside church celebrated its centennial in 2015.
A down-sized yet precise replica of Sacred Heart Basilica in Paris
built after Mount Pelée's 1902 eruption, it's an unusually peaceful,
harmonious reminder of a terrible event.
Saint-Pierre: The once-great capital city that Mount Pelée
destroyed in 1902 is one of the most haunting sights in the
Western Hemisphere. What remains are the charred facades of
buildings, including a church and an 18th century theater, that hint
at how sophisticated Saint-Pierre, aka the "Little Paris of the West
Indies," was before disaster struck. Unlike Pompeii, however, this
city has people living there, Martinicans who have moved in amid
the ruins, which makes the ruins even more poignant. A recent
artistic addition to Saint-Pierre: In 2013, 32 totems, created by
seven artists from the Caribbean, to celebrate the city past
grandeur and nowadays creative rebirth, have been installed
throughout the city, from the beachfront to the center. There's a
market and several good museums in or near the ruins, and
although the government has also posted signs for Englishspeaking visitors, Saint-Pierre merits a guided tour, available
through both private companies and the local tourist office. g


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend September 2017

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