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Upper School French Students Visit Martinique

by Bonnie Li ’24
During spring break, 16 students and three teachers traveled to Martinique and toured the Caribbean island for ten days. The trip was a wonderful mix of exploring some of Martinique’s most beautiful scenery and visiting different museums to learn about Martinique’s history and culture.

My favorite part of the trip was spending the day on a catamaran to cruise around the island. We started the day by sailing to the Diamond Rock, which rises around 175 meters high and is named for how it sparkles in the sunlight. For the next section of the cruise, we traveled to the Grand Anse D’Arlet Beach, where we spent an hour swimming and jumping from the beach’s long pier. The ocean’s clear waters also lent themselves perfectly to spotting starfish, and later in the day, we were even able to visit a turtle bay and spot turtles. When I wasn’t in the water swimming, I sat with friends on the nets near the front of the catamaran, taking in the gorgeous sea stretching around us. 

I also enjoyed walking around the Balata Gardens, one of Martinique’s most famous and lovely tourist sights. The Balata Gardens are a great look into why Martinique is often dubbed “The Isle of Flowers,” with numerous brightly colored tropical flowers and over 300 varieties of palm trees. My favorite flower was a pinkish-red pinecone-shaped flower called red alpinia. At the conclusion of the two-hour walk around the gardens, before heading to the Balata Gardens souvenir shop, we walked across a rope suspension bridge, viewing the gardens from 15 meters above ground level.

Last but not least, on the final day of the trip, we visited Fort-de-France’s city hall to see the Espace Museal Aimé Césaire, a one-room museum depicting Aimé Césaire’s mayoral office. Césaire was a noteworthy Martinican poet, author, and politician, and he played a prominent role in the development of Francophone literature, often using his writing to combat institutionalized racism. It was fascinating to see where some of Césaire’s most influential works of literature were created, especially after learning about Césaire in French class. We then finished the last day of the trip with an exciting Zouk class. With its upbeat 4/4 time signature, Zouk has become one of the Martinique’s leading styles of dance and music since the 1970s. Our Zouk instructor taught us how to dance Zouk with and without a partner, and we practiced the steps we had learned to multiple songs with different tempos.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Martinique and experience the island’s wonders. Thank you, Mme Mauge, Ms. Holtz, and Ms. Duncan, for helping organize the trip and making it an unforgettable adventure for all of us. I can’t wait to share my memories with my family and friends, and, of course, continue practicing my French.