Bargaining is not really normal anywhere in Martinique, except perhaps at arts-and-crafts markets aimed at tourists.
Dangers & Annoyances
Martinique is generally a very safe island. As with anywhere in France, occasional strikes can bring services to a screeching halt. It's not advisable to wander around the largely empty backstreets of Fort-de-France after dark, where mugging can be a concern.
The main risk here is that of mosquito-borne disease such as the Zika virus and dengue fever.
220V, 50 cycles; plugs have two round prongs; a plug adaptor will come in handy.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Martinique country code||+596|
|International access code||00|
Entry & Exit Formalities
All visitors to Martinique must have a valid passport (or a valid national identity card if you’re an EU citizen). A round-trip or onward ticket is officially required of non-EU visitors.
Customs regulations are the same for Martinique as they are for France. There are no abnormal restrictions, though it's important to note that anything made from coral or turtle shell is illegal and will confiscated if found in your bags.
Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can stay for up to 90 days without a visa, by showing a valid passport. Citizens of the EU can stay in Martinique indefinitely, and just need an official national identity card or a valid passport to enter the country.
Politeness is highly valued on Martinique, so brush up on your manners. It's considered polite to greet a room of people when entering , whether it be in a bakery, a hotel or a cafe. In general, always address people with the formal ‘vous’ rather than ‘tu,’ but know that if someone uses the more casual form of address first (which happens more often here than in France) it’s fine to use ‘tu’ in response.
Gay rights are legally protected in Martinique, as a part of France. However, overall homophobia is still very prevalent and there is little or no gay scene on the island. Gay and lesbian travelers have nothing to worry about though – in general, those working in the hotel industry are perfectly used to gay travelers and same-sex couples booking a double room will cause no problems.
Wireless (often called WLAN locally) is ubiquitous in Martinique, and can be found for free at nearly all hotels and guesthouses, as well as in most cafes and restaurants. Internet cafes have gone the way of the dodo, though some hotels still have terminals that can be used by guests.
French law governs legal matters in Martinique, and there is a presumption of innocence, as well as the right to a lawyer. Most travelers will have no interaction with the police at all.
France-Antilles (www.martinique.franceantilles.fr) is the main daily newspaper for the French West Indies. French newspapers and magazines are commonly found everywhere; print editions in English are fairly rare.
Radio & TV
Tune into Réseau Outre-Mer 1ère (www.la1ere.fr), or catch up on local TV on networks RFO 1 and RFO 2.
Martinique uses the euro. Hotels, restaurants and car rental agencies accept most credit and debit cards. ATMs are common across the island and it's no problem accessing money with international cards.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Tipping is not normally expected in Martinique, though it's polite to round up your bill to the nearest euro, and to give a tip for any exceptional service.
Banks 9am-4pm Mon-Fri
Restaurants 11.30am-10pm Mon-Sat (some closed between lunch and dinner)
Shops 9am-7pm Mon-Sat
Supermarkets 8am-8pm Mon-Sat
The French postal system is generally efficient and reliable. There are post offices in all major towns. You can also buy postage stamps at some tabacs (tobacco shops), hotels and souvenir shops.
New Year's Day January 1
Easter Sunday Late March/early April
Ascension Thursday Fortieth day after Easter
Pentecost Monday Eighth Monday after Easter
Labor Day May 1
Victory Day May 8
Slavery Abolition Day May 22
Bastille Day July 14
Schoelcher Day July 21
Assumption Day August 15
All Saints' Day November 1
Armistice Day November 11
Christmas Day December 25th
France has a comprehensive smoking ban that is also observed in Martinique. Smoking in all enclosed public spaces is against the law, though due to the number of outdoor places in Martinique, there are still many situations in which there might be smoking around you.
Taxes & Refunds
If you do not live in France, it is possible to claim back VAT on certain purchased items at the airport when leaving Martinique. This isn't possible if you're flying from Martinique to France.
The country code for Martinique is 596. Confusingly, all local numbers begin with 0596 as well. These numbers are separate, however, and therefore must be dialed twice when calling from abroad. Local mobile numbers begin with 0696.
When calling from within the French Antilles, simply dial the local 10-digit number. From elsewhere, dial your country’s international access code, followed by the 596 country code and the local number (omit the first zero).
Local cell phone providers have offices in most towns and you can easily get a SIM card to put in an unlocked cell phone. Coverage is generally pretty good, but far from total. Calls and data are relatively expensive by regional standards, with 1GB costing around €20. Local cell providers include SFR, Orange and Digicel.
Martinique uses GMT/UTC -4 hours. Daylight saving time is not used.
Toilets in Martinique are universally Western-style.
The Martinique Promotion Bureau is a good source of information on the island – in English and several other languages. Many towns have at least one small tourism office where the staff will speak English and can usually give you free maps and some useful local advice. Pamphlets, mainly in French but with enough pictures and maps to get the gist, are available at airports and many hotels.
Travel with Children
Children will be welcome on vacation in Martinique. Many hotels are family oriented and the island is a very safe place overall. Practically all hotels will provide cots, and some hotels provide babysitting services.
All restaurants will allow children to dine, and they’ll often have a simple and good-value menu enfant (children’s set meal) to offer them. European brands of baby formula, foods and diapers can be bought at pharmacies.
Travelers with Disabilities
By comparison with other Caribbean Islands, Martinique makes good provision for travelers with disabilities, with many hotels having wheelchair-accessible rooms, and many public places having disabled toilets.
Setting up a volunteering opportunity in Martinique should not be a big challenge. However, there are no specific schemes to turn to for help with this.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures Martinique uses the metric system for everything, and the 24-hour clock.
Working in Martinique is easy for EU citizens, who require no documentation whatsoever to take up a job and residence here. Non-EU citizens will need to apply for a work permit. These can be applied for normally only with the support of an employer.