Destination Guide

The Travel Well Guide

Mount Pelee

City: Morne Rouge       State: N/A       Country: Martinique
Mount Peléee ("Bald Mountain") is a dormant volcano on the northern tip of the French overseas department of Martinique in the Lesser Antilles island arc of the Caribbean. It is among the deadliest stratovolcanoes on Earth; its volcanic cone composed of layers of volcanic ash and hardened lava. Located on the island of Martinique, 24 km (15 mi) northwest of the capital, Fort-De-France. It is part of the curved volcano chain of the Lesser Antilles that stretches 700 km (530 mi) from Puerto Rico to Venezuela. Mount Pelee towers over the island at a height of 1,397 m (4,583 ft) and its ravined slopes sustain a magnificent tropical rainforest. Analysis of deposits has shown that more than 30 major eruptions have taken place in the past 5,000 years, making it one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes. The original Carib inhabitants of the island called it "Fire Mountain" (accurately, as it turned out) but it was renamed by French settlers, who were struck by its barren cone, composed of hardened volcanic ash and lava, which stood out in such contrast to the luxuriant vegetation and flowers covering the rest of the island. The residents of Martinique lived in their tropical paradise for over 200 years unperturbed by odd minor eruptions. Nobody foresaw the terrible tragedy of 8 May 1902 when suddenly, after weeks of rumbling, a cloud of superheated gas, ash and rock shot down the mountainside at 160 kph (100 mph). It literally vapourized the colonial city of Saint Pierre, killing around 30,000 people in less than two rninutes. There were only two known survivors, one of them a local villain who had been imprisoned and was protected by the thick walls of his cell. Saint Pierre, "The Paris of the Caribbean", never regained its former status as the cultural and commercial capital of the French West Indies.Today an apparently docile Mount Pelee stands quietly over the town of Saint Pierre and the beautiful Martinique countryside. However, it could re-awaken at any time and is under constant watch by volcanologists.

Climate | When to Visit

April is the driest month while September is the wettest.
Visit during: January to December

Directions | How to Reach

Fly to Lamentin International Airport, 10 minutes drive from Fort-de-France, or ferries and catamarans from St Lucia, Guadeloupe and Dominica

miscellaneous | Important Information

Don't miss the Musee Vulcanologique and the ruins of the old theatre in Saint Pierre.

Travel More. Live More | Xplore

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