Places in French Guiana
St Laurent du Maroni
St Laurent is an intriguing place with some of the country's finest colonial architecture and, even 60 years after the penitentiary's closure, it's dominated by penal buildings and the ghosts of its prisoners. Along the banks of the Fleuve Maroni (Marowijne River), bordering Suriname, St Laurent is also a place to take a river trip to Maroon and Amerindian settlements.
On a small peninsula overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Kourou River, this small city of modern apartment blocks once existed solely to serve the mainland and offshore penal colonies. Now it seems to exist solely to serve the Centre Spatial Guyanais (Guyanese Space Center), a satellite construction facility and launch pad that employs thousands of people.
Though technically two separate towns, Rémire-Montjoly, only 8km from Cayenne, functions as a single village. Its sweeping beaches are some of the country's best waterfront. Despite the persistence of mosquitoes and biting sand flies (make sure you bring repellent!), locals flock here in droves.
Tips and articles
A first-timer's guide to the Guianas
The Guianas: Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana hide so well under their blanket of South American jungle that even geography nerds have a hard time pinpointing them on a map...
Overland adventures in Guyana
By oxcart to Nappi Village. Photo by Celeste Brash. Hilda, my oxcart driver, was drunk...