A crossroads of the Caribbean, South America and Europe, Cayenne is a city of myriad cultures surrounded on all sides by the sounds, smells and colors of the tropics. The streets of the town center are lined with colonial wrought-iron balconies with louvered shutters painted in now-faded tropical pinks, yellows and turquoises. Above it all sits the town's old fortress, an atmospheric wind-whipped ruin that looks down onto the palm trees of the town's elegant main square.

While undeniably run down and visibly poor in many parts, Cayenne is home to vibrant markets and excellent Brazilian, Creole, French and Chinese restaurants. Outside the city center, however, highways and urban sprawl remind you that you're still very much in the 21st century, and the encroachment of la France métropolitaine is never far away.