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
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.
– 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.
– 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.
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.
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.
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
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. Read more in my post on Jardin de Balata 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.