Similar to many other Caribbean islands, Martinique shopping offers a variety of island goods, both world renowned and local. The local artisans craft a wide range of fantastic gifts and souvenirs including jewelry made from exotic seashells, madras fabrics, bamboo plates, and the local "bakoua" hats. T-shirts, calabash hand bags, and decorative tableware are also widely found throughout many Martinique markets and bazaars. Official Martinique currency is the same as the island's mother country of France, the Euro. Though the Euro is the official currency, US dollars are also widely accepted as are credit cards and travelers cheques. Martinique hotels readily offer currency exchange for foreigners, yet they don't offer the best rates. For the best conversion rates be sure to exchange foreign currency at local banks and also at ATMs.
In Martinique shopping is a favorite pastime, much like
shopping throughout France.
Les Trois Ilets and Fort
de France, located across a beautiful bay from each
other, are two main shopping areas that feature many unique
and exciting Martinique shops. Chic Parisian fashions
are widely available in Les Trois Ilets, home to famous Pointe de Bout beach,
but can be quite expensive. There is a cluster of specialty
boutiques located at the Pointe de Bout marina as well.
Renowned designers specialize in stylish resort wear and
other fashion styles. Caribbean and Arawak style vases,
pots and jars are also considered specialty local items and
are handmade by Martinique islanders. Forte de France
is another terrific place where Martinique shops and markets
are the talk of the town.
The three main Martinique markets in Fort de France are the Vegetable Market, the adjacent Fish Market, and the Big Market. Both the Vegetable Market and the Fish Market are exciting places to visit even if you're not looking for food. They both offer insight into the local culture and offer a look into what kind of food is harvested from both the sea and the land. The Big Market, the most popular of all Martinique markets, is situated in the downtown area. It's also known as the Spice Market, and under a canopy of gleaming glass and metal visitors find a huge array of spice stalls offering everything from peppers to vanilla and even a medley of rums. All around the outside, vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables daily. All three of the Martinique markets are open daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you're in Martinique shopping for arts such as sculptures and paintings you'll be pleased with the choices. Both local and international work is available throughout the island at many hotels and galleries. Reflecting everything from island history to island life in general, art tends to be colorful and unique and exudes Caribbean island charm. Most Martinique shops are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. during the week and also on Saturdays. Sundays tend to be quiet and many shop keepers close up for the day. It's traditional for shops to take a few hours off midday and close up around noon or so, but not all continue this local custom.
Rue Victor Hugo is the main shopping strip in Fort de France. The expansive collection of this Parisian style shopping area includes a large array of goods, from fresh flowers to fresh fashions. The incredible atmosphere is vibrantly enriched with scads of al fresco cafes, restaurants, and quaint eateries. Two large Martinique shopping centers are located east of the Fort de France area in Le Lamentin. Visitors will find plenty of American-style stores, small Martinique markets, and a solid variety of boutiques. The largest mall to spend your Martinique currency at is called Galleria and is also in Le Lamentin. The draw at Galleria is the number of French fashion chains like Bonjour Paris and Bouche B. With Martinique currency the same as much of Europe, many Europeans vacation on the island. The sheer diversity of shopping on Martinique, and the excellent variety of goods available, create the perfect combination of the Caribbean and France.