Tuesday, March 5, 2013

St. Pierre, Martinique

Sunday, February 17 - Wednesday, February 20

We left Dominica early Sunday morning and sailed south to the French island, Martinique.  We decided to spend a few days in St. Pierre.

St. Pierre is a really interesting town on Martinique.  It lies at the foot of the Mt. Pelee volcano which erupted on May 8, 1902 covering the city with ash, wiping out the town.  Prior to 1902, St. Pierre was known as the Paris of the Caribbean, the commercial, cultural, and social center of Martinique.  They estimate that 30,000 people were burned to death in the lava flow, leaving only two survivors - a cobbler and a famous prisoner that was in a stone cell locked up for murder at the time.  A lot of the ruins still remain in St. Pierre.  We spent a couple of days exploring the town and learning about the history.  There is also a rum distillery close by that I visited on our last day in St. Pierre where they take you on a tour showing step by step how they make the Depaz Rhum.

Main square in St. Pierre

We hiked to the top of one of the nearby mountains where there is a statue of the Virgin Mary.  This was the view from the top of the hill, looking down upon the city of St. Pierre and the anchorage.  In the background, you can see Mt. Pelee.

Statue of the Virgin Mary

Sea Island cotton plant that we passed along the trail to the top of the mountain

Ruins of an old theater that remained after the 1902 Mt. Pelee erruption 

Ruins of the prison 

Cannons that remained intact after the erruption

Beautiful church that lies in the middle of the town.  It has been restored after the Mt. Pelee eruption, but they managed to keep some of the original stonework on the bottom level that remained.

Inside the church looking forward towards the alter

View of the church looking back.  The stained glass windows were really spectacular.

This was a stream that I passed on the way to the Depaz distillery

 The beach in St. Pierre

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