Several roads head north from Fort-de-France. The most interesting sightseeing routes are the coastal road (N2) to St-Pierre and the Route de la Trace (N3), a truly scenic road that crosses the mountainous interior before hitting Morne Rouge and veering toward the northeast coast.
Anse Dufour & Anse Noire
Few visitors have heard about Anse Dufour and Anse Noire, two little morsels of paradise that locals would like to keep for themselves. Approximately halfway between Anse Mitan and Grande Anse, a secondary road peels off the D7 and plunges straight to Anse Dufour 2km below.
The southeastern corner of Martinique forms a magnificient peninsula which has plenty to set your heart aflutter: liberally sprinkled with grandiose bays, turquoise waters and superb beaches, it's a powerful fix for any beach addict. The southernmost town on Martinique, Ste-Anne has an attractive seaside setting with painted wooden houses and numerous trinket shops.
It’s hard to believe that St-Pierre was once the most cosmopolitan city in the Caribbean. The one-time thriving capital of Martinique was, however, wiped out in just 10 minutes at the beginning of the 20th century by the towering and still-active Mont Pelée 7km away. Though a shadow of its former self, St-Pierre is an attractive place to wander.
Presqu’île de Caravelle
This charming peninsula has some gorgeous stretches of beach and a wild and untamed feel in parts. A gently twisting road with spectacular views runs through sugarcane fields to the peninsula’s main village, charming Tartane, and then on to Baie du Galion. On the north side of the peninsula are a couple of protected beaches.
Le Diamant is one of the most scenic destinations in southern Martinique, although there's no real 'there' here as things are scattered along about 2km of sandy, wave-tossed shore and in the hills immediately behind. For visitors, this seaside town is a good base to explore the western horn of the island.
Pointe du Bout
At the southern end of the Baie de Fort-de-France is Pointe du Bout, Martinique’s most developed resort. Home to the island’s most-frequented yachting marina and some of its largest resorts, though these are actually small by Caribbean standards. At the tip is a Y-shaped peninsula, with hotels fringing the coast and the marina in the middle.
Grand-Rivière is an unspoiled fishing village scenically tucked beneath coastal cliffs at the northern tip of Martinique. Mont Pelée forms a rugged backdrop to the south, while there’s a fine view of neighboring Dominica to the north. The road dead-ends at the sea, where there’s a fish market and rows of brightly coloured fishing boats lined up on a little black-sand beach.
This busy town is, in itself, not really worth visiting, but the stretch of hotels along the coast in the suburbs of Gros Raisin and Trois-Rivières keeps visitors coming. The hotels are far enough away from the N5 highway for you not to feel like you’re living on a freeway, but close enough to make this a great base to explore the southern half of the island.
Basse-Pointe to Presqu’île de Caravelle
The highway (N1) from Basse-Pointe to Lamentin runs along relatively tame terrain and is not one of the island’s most interesting drives, although there are a few worthwhile sights. The communities along the way are largely modern towns that become increasingly more suburban as you continue south.
The mountainous and in parts spectacular coastal road from Fort-de-France to the old capital of St-Pierre runs through a succession of small towns, fishing villages and the odd bit of urban sprawl. The 21km trip takes around 45 minutes. It’s worth swinging off the highway at Case-Pilote to take a peek at the old village center.
This small working town has a central square bordered by a little market, a quaint town hall and the church where local gal, the future Empress Josephine, was baptized in 1763. Despite its proximity to the island’s busiest resort area, the town has so far avoided developers’ attention, though its charm has been tarnished by a constant flow of traffic through its main street.