Anse a L’Ane, Anse Mitan & Trois Islet
Opposite Martinique’s capital Fort De France, on the other side of the bay, are three anchorages that are often overlooked. Each have their own character but all with the same sophisticated charm that is expected of the French West Indies. Trois Islet, Anse Mitan and Anse L’Ane offer a diverse mix of relaxing beaches, lively atmosphere and interesting history. With a regular ferry service back and forth to Fort de France, these bays have opened up and become more accessible.
Anseal’Ane is the furthest west on the southern side of the bay. It has mostly good holding on a sandy bottom. However, avoid the shoal in the middle of the bay and leave the channel clear for the ferries. In strong northeast winds or westerly swell, this bay becomes untenable. It is a picturesque anchorage with a pretty crescent shaped sandy beach and palm trees. The sleepy seaside resort is a low-key holiday destination with chalets backing down onto the beach. There are a few restaurants; a couple right on the beach, an 8 à Huit store, a fuel station and, a little further back, a fruit and vegetable stall. Dinghies can be left on either docks; keeping clear of the ferries.
Anse Mitan, though only around the corner, is a striking contrast to the laidback atmosphere of Anse a L’Ane. The chic and the beautiful hang out at Pointe Du Bout, is one of Martinique’s most developed holiday resorts. Though in parts a little rough around the edges, don’t let this deter you. The clear water in the anchorage has variable holding but is good in sand. There are various buoys marking channels and swimming areas, leave the ferry channel clear, as well as the swimming area off Anse Mitan beach.
Dinghies can be left inside the ferry dock though be aware that at weekends – and after school – kids jump in and out of the dinghies and tug on the engine pull cords. Another area to leave your dinghy is on the floating dock in the first of the man-made breakwaters north of the abandoned Bakoua marina.
Ashore you can clear customs easily in the office at the Pointe Du Bout marina. There are many fine restaurants and cafes right on the marina front and on the road leading to Anse Mitan Beach – including those in Creole Village – that will easily satisfy those with an epicurean nature. You will find the ubiquitous 8 à Huit for grocery shopping and a couple of fine boulangeries. There are plenty of car rental places, dive shops and a laundry service. Throw into the mix a good selection of classy boutiques and up market tourist shops in quaint pastel-colored buildings. The derelict hotel at the end of the Ponite du Bout conjures images of a hedonistic past but is now in ruins. All is not lost as the man-made pools surrounding this area are popular spots for snorkeling and sunbathing. There is reasonably good snorkeling to be found off Pointe du Bout, and by the isolated danger mark in the bay, just make sure you are aware of jet skis whizzing by.
For something a little different or if you need to find shelter from a northwest swell, Trois Islet is a quiet place to hang out for a few days. Despite being open to the northeast, the holding is great and there are plenty of places you can tuck into between the islands and the shoals. Just be conscious of the shallow areas when anchoring and once again keep the ferry approach clear. Dinghies can be left inside the ferry dock on the well-maintained waterfront. Here you will find a couple of reasonably priced eating places, including a bar selling freshly squeezed fruit juices.
Trois Islet is a small tidy town with lots of quaint weather worn buildings mixed with more modern urban development. It is a pretty place that won’t take you long to walk around. It has a couple of local stores, a small market in the square with a limited selection of fruit and vegetables, as well as a few other vendors selling wares from spices to straw hats. A handsome church, listed as an historic building due to its connections with Empress Josephine, stands proudly in the square. A boulangerie/patisserie offering fresh baguettes and pastries lies just around the corner.
Take a walk to the state owned Forest of Vatable about a mile or so out of town to the east. A little further, but within (long) walking distance, is a sugar cane museum in the remains of an old sugar refinery. About two miles west of town is Musee de la Pagerie, which is dedicated to the countries colonial history and to Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon.
For golfing enthusiasts, a scenic 18-hole course leads right down to the waters edge. Nature lovers can explore the mangroves on organized tours. For all these sites and more the tourist office in the main square are very helpful and speak English.
Next time you are passing through the Fort de France Bay, take the time to stop on the southern peninsula and soak up some Creole culture and fine French West Indies hospitality.
Rosie and her husband Sim Hoggarth, both from the UK, have cruised the Caribbean and North America for the last seven years on ‘Alianna’ their Corbin39.