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Welcome to FORT-DE-FRANCE
an extra service of European City Guide / ECG
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Information about FORT-DE-FRANCE With its iron-grille-work balconies overflowing with flowers, Fort-de-France, the largest town on Martinique, seems like a cross between New Orleans and a town on the French Riviera. It lies at the end of a large bay surrounded by green hills. The proud people of Martinique are even more fascinating than the town of Fort-de-France, although today the Creole women are likely to be seen in jeans instead of their traditional turbans and Empress Joséphine-style gowns, and they rarely wear those massive earrings that used to jounce and sway as they sauntered along. Narrow streets climb up the steep hills, where houses have been built to catch the overflow of the capital's more than 100,000 inhabitants. At the heart of town is La Savane, a broad garden with many palms and mangos, playing fields, walks, and benches, plus shops and cafes lining its sides. In the middle of this grand square stands a statue of Joséphine, "Napoleon's little Creole," made of white marble by Vital Debray. The statue poses in a Regency gown and looks toward Les Trois-Ilets, where Joséphine was born. The statue was beheaded in 1991, probably because islanders felt she championed slavery. Near the harbor, at the edge of the park, you'll find vendors' stalls with handmade crafts, including baskets, beads, bangles, woodcarvings, and straw hats. Your next stop could be the 1875 Cathédrale St-Louis, on rue Victor-Schoelcher. The religious centerpiece of the island, it's an extraordinary iron building, which someone once likened to "a sort of Catholic railway station." A number of the island's former governors are buried beneath the choir loft. A statue in front of the Palais de Justice is of the island's second main historical figure, Victor Schoelcher, who worked to free the slaves more than a century ago. Bibliothèque Schoelcher, also honors this popular hero. The Romanesque portal, the Egyptian lotus-petal columns, even the turquoise tiles were imported piece by piece from Paris and reassembled here. Fort St-Louis, built in the Vauban style on a rocky promontory, guards the port. Fort Tartenson and Fort Desaix also stand on hills overlooking the port. Musée Departemental d l'Archeologie et de Prehistoire de la Martinique, the one place on Martinique that preserves its pre-Columbian past and has relics from the early settlers, the Arawaks and the Caribs. Everything here stops shortly after the arrival of the first French colonials on Martinique in the early 1600s. In other words, it's mostly an ethnological museum, which was enlarged and reorganized into a more dynamic and up-to-date place in 1997. The Musée Régional d'Histoire et d'Ethnographie, is devoted to an illumination of the island's agrarian past (and the slave culture that made it possible). Expositions showcase the late 19th-century volcanic eruption that leveled St-Pierre, slavery and its effects on the island's society, and explorations of the sugar-cane industry. Sacré-Coeur de Balata Cathedral, at Balata, overlooking Fort-de-France, is a copy of the one looking down from Montmartre upon Paris-and this one is just as incongruous, maybe more so. It's reached by going along route de la Trace Jardin de Balata is a tropical botanical park created by Jean-Philippe Thoze on land that the jungle was rapidly reclaiming around a Creole house that belonged to his grandmother. He has also restored the house, furnishing it with antiques and historic engravings. The garden contains a profusion of flowers, shrubs, and trees.
 
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FRANCE

General Information
Capital: Paris
Area: 545,630 sq km (339,054 sq miles) (not including overseas territories).2
Population: 65,073,482
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin plugs are widely used
IDD: +33
Emergency number: 17
Timezone: GMT +1 Hr (+2 Hrs MAR-OCT)

Language
Language: French (official). Rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)

Government
Government: Republic.

Religion
Religion: 80% Catholic, Muslim and Protestant denominations

Health
Health: The following vaccinations are recommended: Tetanus.

Currency
Currency: Euro (EUR) 1.00 = 100 Cents

Exchange Rate
Exchange Rate: All 100.00 = USD = 66.8534 EUR GBP = 110.480 EUR CHF = 661543

Business Hours
Business Hours: Mon-Fri: 09.00-12.00 and 14.00-18.00

Speed Limit
Speed Limit: Cities: 50 km/h, Outside Cities: 90 km/h, Dual carriageways: 110 km/h, Motorways: 130 km/h

Traffic
Traffic: Traffic drives on the right. Minimum age 18 years. Wearing of seat belts is compulsory in front and back seats.

Driving License
Driving License: National license

National Holidays
National holidays: Jan 1 New Year"s Day, Easter (variable), 1 May Workers" Day, 8 May Victory Day, 25 May Ascensión, Jul 14 Bastille Day, Ago 15 Ascension Day, , Nov 1 All Saints" Day, Nov 11 Armistice Day, Dec 25 Christmas Day

Climate
Climate: The south of France has a warm Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Strong winds, known as la Mistral, can occur in the Cote d"Azur, Provence and in the Rhone valley particularly over the winter and spring. Northern France, including Paris, has a temperate climate with warm summers, cold winters and rainfall throughout the year. The western coast, is milder and summer days are generally very hot.

Temperatures
 
Temperatures:
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
A3471014171919161174
P564635425754596455505150
S235678876422
A=Aver. Daily Temp. (°C)
P=Precipitation (mm)
S=Sunshine (Hrs/Month)

Mobile Network
Mobile Network: GSM 900 / 1800 3G 2100

GPS
GPS: 48 52 N, 2 19.59 E

Shopping Hours
Shopping Hours: Department stores are open 09.00-20.00. Most shops are closed between 12.00 and 14.30. Food shops are open 07.00-19.00/19.30. Some food shops (particulary bakers) are open Sunday mornings, in which case they will probably be closed on Monday. Many shops are closed all day or half-day Monday. Hypermarkets are normally open from 9.00 to 19.00/20.00, sometimes until 21.00 or 22.00.


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