Exploring Saint-Pierre

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Tue 18 Jan 2011 23:07
Exploring Saint-Pierre



No serious posing going on here then 


Saint-Pierre is a commune of France's Caribbean overseas department of Martinique, founded in 1635 by Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc. Before the total destruction of Saint-Pierre in 1902 by a volcanic eruption, it was the most important city of Martinique culturally and economically, being known as "the Paris of the Caribbean". After the disaster the capital of Martinique became Fort-de-France, which grew in economic importance.




The ruins are just there, untouched, all over the town


History: Saint-Pierre was founded in 1635 by Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc, a French trader and adventurer, as the first permanent French colony on the island of Martinique. The Great Hurricane of 1780 produced a storm-surge of twenty five feet which "inundated the city, destroying all houses" and killed nine thousand people.



Ruins stand proudly next to homes and shops

The town was destroyed again on the 8th of May 1902 when Mount Pelée erupted (own blog). Legend (erroneously) has it that the town's doom was forecast by loud groaning noises from within the volcano, but the mayor of the town had it blocked off to prevent people from leaving during an election. This story appears to have originated with one of the island's newspapers, published by a political opponent of the governor, and has no basis in fact. Actually, there was considerable eruptive activity in the two weeks prior to the fatal blast, but since the phenomenon of the pyroclastic flow (nuée ardente) was not yet understood, the danger was perceived to be from lava flows, which, it was believed, would be stopped by two valleys between the volcano and the city.




Saint-Pierre today: The city of Saint-Pierre was never restored to its old glory, though some villages were built some decades later on its place. Today, the town is the district capital of the Caribbean North district of Martinique. It has been designated as a "city of Art and History".



Pathfinder led us from the volcano museum to the market building, to a café that she had read about in The Lonely Planet.



Our starters were chosen by pointing to the next table as they looked "safe" 


The Mistress Pathfinder went off piste with her choice. We shut our eyes when she forked it and it squadged, "tastes like pate" - no comment 


Lunch survived, it was time for a wander 


Pathfinder leading the way, we found the adult psych unit. Apparently, one the largest facilities in the Caribbean 


Years if not centuries of road repairs have made for an interesting kerb arrangement
A future 'one careful owner' and a lovely garden
The plaques and wall coverings to remember slavery / celebrate emancipation