Saint-Pierre, Martinique, is often called the Pompeii of the New World—in 1902, about 30,000 people perished under a cloud of molten ash and poisonous gas there, about 20 mi/32 km north of Fort de France. Before Mount Pelee erupted, Saint-Pierre was often likened to Paris for its beauty and sophistication. As you walk the streets that were dug out of the ashes, consider what Saint-Pierre was like a century ago. The town had three newspapers, several consulates and an intricate trolley line. Some of the stone two-story homes were equipped with running water, electricity and telephones.
Only one person survived the Saint-Pierre disaster: a prisoner sleeping off a raucous night in a stone cell. He went on to fame in the U.S. as part of the Barnum and Bailey circus. His cell can be seen in the ruins of the prison, situated right next to the ruins of the old theater, also worth a visit.
The town of Le Carbet, south of Saint-Pierre, marks the spot where Columbus landed in 1502, and has beautiful gray sand beaches.
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