What you should know before you rent a car
Where is there to rent a car in Martinique?
The Caribbean island of Martinique is an overseas department of France, and its French influence can be seen in its culture and colonial architecture – as well as the fact that the country's currency is the Euro, as in France itself. The capital city is Fort-de-France and Martinique's primary airport is Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport, which can be found not far from Fort-de-France itself. From the airport, travel on to destinations throughout Martinique is via shuttle, taxi, or rental car. There is no rail service on Martinique and taxis can be expensive, so traveling by car is often the best and most reliable option for visitors to the island. Car rental companies operating within Martinique include Alamo Rent a Car, Sixt, Hertz, Jumbo Car, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Cars can be rented from Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport.
What are the rules of the road in Martinique?
As an overseas department of France, the rules of the road are the same as in France itself. Drive on the right, and be sure to stick to the speed limit as Martinique is known for being well equipped with speed cameras. Speed limits will be displayed in kilometers per hour, and are usually 110 km/h on highways, 90 km/h on open roads, and 50 km/h in towns. To rent a car in Martinique, you will need to be at least 21 years of age and hold a valid US driver's license. Check with the car rental company, as some may require drivers to be over 25 years old. Children under the age of 12 years old may not travel in the front seat, and all passengers are required to wear a seatbelt at all times.
When it comes to finding a space to park your car in Martinique, you're in luck – there is plenty of free parking across the island. However, in Fort-de-France this is less true, as the popular city makes for more of a challenge when parking your car. Here, parking spaces are usually charged – while they aren't expensive, this is something to look out for, especially in more touristic parts of the city.
Road trips in Martinique
Due to Martinique's lack of a railroad, driving is by far the easiest way to travel across the island. There are a number of great road trips to be taken on the island, with rainforests and white sand beaches just waiting to be discovered.
For those hoping to discover the beautiful beaches of Martinique, a visit to the south of the country comes highly recommended. Drive along the coast to visit towns such as Les Trois-Îlets, Sainte-Luce, Diamant and Sainte Anne, stopping along the way to relax on the white sand beaches which can be found almost at every turn. Rent a car in Fort-de-France, before driving just over half an hour to reach Les Trois-Îlets to begin your south Martinique road trip.
Saint Pierre and Mont Pelée
Located in the north of Martinique, around a one hour drive from Fort-de-France, Saint Pierre is a coastal town which lies in the shadow of Mont Pelée, a volcano known for its devastating 1902 eruption. Today, the volcano is in a quiescent state and a museum dedicated to its eruption can be visited in the city – as can the prison cell which held one of the only survivors of the eruption (and, in fact, saved his life!). Mont Pelée also offers hiking opportunities and spectacular views, however it is highly recommended to go with an experienced guide.
The Caravelle Peninsula
One for nature lovers, the Caravelle Peninsula in eastern Martinique is a beautiful natural area comprising nature trails such as the Caravelle Nature Trail. Wildlife including hummingbirds, crabs and Martinique orioles can be seen in the area, which is also home to the remains of the 18th-century Château Dubuc, now a historic monument.