Last updated on July 18th, 2020.

It is thanks to France that Martinique can claim itself one of the top foodie & wine destinations of the Caribbean, but along with being French comes the infamous Sunday closures.

Far be it from me to complain about the easy access to perfect ratatouille and a great bottle of Crémant, if empty streets is the price to pay for a decent croissant then count me in!

Many a tourist has downplayed the rumours they’ve heard about things in France closing on a Sunday, but really it’s a lot more true than you may think! The unprepared tourist (cough, cough, myself) may even find themselves arriving in Martinque on a sunny Sunday afternoon, suddenly remembering why Fort-de-france is a ghost town and everything is closed up!

But with a little planning you can be prepared, and have a wonderful weekend even whilst many places are not open.

First, a quick FAQ to get you up to speed on Martinique weekend closures

Why are so many things closed on a Sunday in Martinique?

Traditionally, in France it was pretty much impossible to shop on a Sunday due to their strict Catholic heritage.

Although many French people are no longer catholic, the history and the culture of shutting up shop to relax has lived on.

Because Martinique is an overseas territorial collectivity of France, visiting means not only stepping into the Schengen zone and using the Euro, but also experiencing the cultural norms of everything closing on a Saturday afternoon and reopening again not until the Monday morning.

What is open in Fort-de-france on a Sunday?

– Fast food remains open, so you can still visit McDonalds and KFC if you must!
Granade et Basilic is an excellent restaurant that opens on Sundays, I’ve eaten many a Sunday dinner here and never been disappointed.
– Fuji Sushi Bar on the main waterfront strip is open and makes remarkably good sushi for a Caribbean island!
– For a cheap and tasty pizza by the ocean, Hasta La Pizza is open on Sunday for dinnertime (from 5pm onwards)
– To pick up forgotten grocery items, or just to try some new and local specialities, make sure to visit the Food Market Fort-de-France at 54 Avenue des Caraibes. They are open on Sundays, sell all kinds of goodies, and are very tourist (and if needed, English) friendly.

What’s open around the island of Martinique on a Sunday?

– Pointe du bout boasts more openings than nearby Fort-de-france because of the additional tourism, hotels & tourist apartments in the area. You’ll find a larger selection of open restaurants, bars & shops here if you’re looking for something more lively.

– An excellent option on the Pointe du bout side on a Sunday is Le Ti Taurus for the lovely sunny seating & ocean views.

The Jardin de Balata and Musée de la banane are both open on Sundays if you’re looking for something more structured than lazing on the beach and drinking cocktails.

Can I rent a car in Martinique on a Sunday?

Yes you can rent a car in Martinique on a Sunday. The best place to rent from is either near the Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport, and in Pointe-de-bout.

Both have a number of car rental agencies who open on Sundays – just make sure to book in advance to make sure something will be available. All of the big chain companies (and some of the small ones) offer online bookings.

For my own Martinique road trips we rented through  Europcar’s Trois Ilets Pointe Du Bout Car Rental in Pointe du Bout on all occasions and found the experience really easy & affordable.

Are the grocery stores open in Martinique on Sundays?

Yes but your options are limited. Most of the smaller grocery stores in Martinique including the Carrefour in central Fort-de-france are closed on Sundays.

However, the larger Centre Commercial Carrefour Dillon is open 9am–12:30pm on Sunday mornings for your last minute Sunday grocery needs. It is not walking distance from Fort-de-france central, or many places really – so a car or taxi would be necessary to get here from most places.

Does the Fort-de-france ferry run on a Sunday?

Yes – but the schedule is limited and finishes early in the day. Check the Vedettes Tropicales Website for the most up to date ferry schedule.

What to do in Martinique on a Sunday?

Taste test the local liquors and pick yourself up some souvineers

A wonderful gem in Fort-de-france I stumbled upon one Sunday was the Food Market Fort-de-France at 54 Avenue des Caraibes.

Aside from being an excellent place to pick up some food if you forgot to by groceries over the weekend, it is a haven full of locally produced sweets, chocolates, rums, spices and souvineers from Martinique and nearby Guadeloupe.

They often have tastings set up, and will gladly talk you through the local specialities. I highly recommend trying their Ponche de coco & the banana wine is truly fascinating.

Open 8am – 1pm on Sundays.

Dinner Plans: Grenade et Basilic

Grenade et Basilic was one of the best little restaurants I discovered in all of Martinique. Run by the kindest French man, they serve up typical mainland French cuisine in a small little bistro in the heart of Fort-de-france.

The kindness here was outstanding, the service excellent, and the food I still miss. The ratatouille is a personal favourite, and the differing daily flavours of creme brûlée are not to miss.

Michel the owner is kind and friendly, speaking a multitude of languages and patient enough to chat with me in my fledgling French.

Best of all, while most buildings in Fort-de-France are shuttered up, Granade et Basilic remains open through Sunday lunch and dinner.

Find their website here: https://grenadeetbasilic.fr/en

Plan ahead for a picnic day out at the beach

If you’re organised, you can plan in advance and pick up a car rental and some picnic ingredients the day before & head off early for a full day of sun and sand! Just because the shops are closed, doesn’t mean the beaches are.

Martinique is quite literally surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with crystal clear waters and soft, pillowy sand.

If you’re well prepared with a car and some supplies you can have a lovely day out. Every other day of the week the supermarkets are well stocked with French cheeses and wines – the perfect makings for a Sunday picnic!

You can also stop into any of the dive shops on the Saturday when you collect your car rental to rent a snorkel & mask to explore the underwater worlds around the island, or to visit the sea turtles at  l’Anse Noire

Perfect picnic ingredients can be fund all over the island!

Visit the magnificent Jardin de Balata

No explanation will do for the incredible Jardin de Balata botanical gardens. I had read numerous times how wonderful it was, yet never placed it high up on my life and only went there somewhat by accident.

But I was blown away. It’s truly magical – green & lush & full of amazing views, canopy walks and hummingbirds galore.

Open Sundays 9am – 5pm. Website Here

Don’t Forget the Banana Museum – Open on Sunday!

The Musée de la banane is open from 9am – 5pm on Sundays, and is a great way to learn about the history and importance this little yellow fruit plays in Martinique culture. It also has a beautiful garden & you can taste test bananas.

So don’t let Sundays get you down!

Get out and explore Martinique, just plan ahead like I didn’t do so that you can make the most of what is open and available to you.

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16 Comments

  1. Loved this- I spent some time in Martinique and visited le Jardin de Balata (which I LOVED), but as I was working on a ship at the time I didn’t get to see anywhere near enough of the island! Definitely need to go back and explore more.

  2. This place looks so gorgeous and I am so glad you included all the tips about Sunday closures! Will be so helpful to know this information for the future!

  3. I’ve always wanted to visit Martinique, it looks absolutely gorgeous! And I never knew about most things being closed on a Sunday so this was super informative!

  4. Great suggestions! It’s always good for travelers to be aware that many European places are shut down on Sundays. Sometimes you might find yourself going hungry!

  5. LOVE this blog idea! I live in Mexico & many things are closed on Mondays… so no one is ever prepared for that. Thanks for all great tips for Sunday ideas in beautiful Martinique. You provide a lot of great options.

  6. So useful to know information like this as so many places usually close on Sundays. Never been to Martinique and can’t wait to visit.

  7. Omg I love this! I had a very similiar experience in Northern Ireland because it is a very strong history rooted in Sunday being a day of worship. Great list!

  8. This is so helpful! Norway is quite similar, with shops and grocery stores closing on Sundays – lots of tourists come here unaware! 🙂 Definitely remembering this for when I ever go to Martinique!

  9. I’ve had this happen before when visiting another country, so this kind of article is awesome to cover off what can be done. Also great to showcase the cultural reasons behind the closures. Fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

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