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With its historic fort and superb location beneath the towering Pitons du Carbet on the Baie des Flamands, Martinique's capital—home to about one-quarter of the island's 400,000 inhabitants—should be a grand place. It hasn't been for decades, but it's now coming up fast. An ambitious redevelopment project, still under way, hopes to make it one of the most attractive cities in the Caribbean.
Already done is the renovation of the park La Savane and the construction of a spectacular waterfront promenade. Also on the radar is the Pointe Simon Business and Tourist Center, which will include a 100-room hotel and luxury apartment building. The apartments are now being heavily advertised for sale, but the hotel will take some time to open. The striking 215,000-square-foot Cour Perrinon Mall, bordered by rue Perrinon, houses a Carrefour supermarket, a bookstore, perfume shops, designer boutiques, a French bakery, and a café–brasserie. Near the mall is the Hôtel de Ville (mayor's office), in a gorgeous and ornate building.There is a small Office of Tourism de Fort-de-France at 76 rue Lazare Carnot. It has some brochures in English and helpful, English-speaking staffers. They can organize English-language tours with advance notice. Walking tours are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday at 9 am. They take in a number of historic sites in about an hour and 45 minutes and cost €12. Another Point d'Information Touristique is near the cathedral, at the junction of rues Antoine Siger and Victor Schoelcher.