This Caribbean island is shaped by many cultural influences. A language study trip to Martinique combines laid-back island life with the opportunity to experience nature and gain an insight into feel-good Creole culture.
THE ISLAND OF FLOWERS
The island's appearance is as flowery as its name. The locals call it "Madinina", the island of flowers. Flowers not only bloom in the botanical gardens and parks, but anthuriums (flamingo flowers) and other exotic plants also flourish in the wild on this small tropical island between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the variety that makes a language study trip to Martinique such an interesting prospect. On the south of the island, coral reefs, white sandy beaches and palm trees line the turquoise shores. Diving, boat trips, kite surfing – there is no shortage of activities to choose from and with the water temperature at around 26 degrees, water lovers are left wanting for nothing. The mountains in the North, however, create a harsher, damper and cooler environment. Lush forests cover the pointed hills, while black sandy beaches testify to the presence of volcanic rock. Towering above the island is Mont Pelée – a volcano that once entirely destroyed the old capital. These days, its green slopes and waterfalls are a popular destination for hikers.
Martinique's cultural heritage is as varied as its natural setting. The majority of the population is of African origin, but there are also Indian and European roots thrown into the mix. Even though the island is about 7,000 kilometres away from the French mainland, the influences stemming from the mother country are hard to ignore. French is the official language of Martinique. But if you expect standard French to be spoken all the time, you will be in for a surprise. Many Martinicans speak charming Martinican Creole, which is influenced by English and various African languages. The island is covered in brasseries, crêperies and seafood restaurants that serve a culinary blend of French and Creole cuisine. During your language study trip to Martinique, be sure to take inspiration from the islanders' love of life – on a stroll through the colourful markets, at one of the music festivals or around Carnival time, when the islanders dress up in flamboyant costumes and the entire island is filled with rhythmic beats.