St. 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 in St. Pierre, about 20 mi/32 km north of Fort de France. Before Mount Pelee erupted, St. 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 St. 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 St. 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.
If you have some extra time, you can take a train ride around the town on the Cyparis Express. You'll go past the harbor, where 12 ships were sent to the bottom by Mount Pelee's eruption. The tour takes 50 minutes and costs 6.75 euros for adults and 3.35 euros for children (advance reservations are necessary on weekends). Phone 596-555-092.
The town of Le Carbet, south of St. Pierre, marks the spot where Columbus landed in 1502.
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