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Bora, Bora - eine der traumhaften französischen Inseln, Bild: Maridav /shutterstock

The French Islands: A journey into the magic of the overseas territories

France, the land of love, wine and culture, is not only to be found on the European continent. It also extends beyond the world’s oceans, where it has a fascinating collection of overseas territories and islands. These French islands are much more than just exotic destinations; they are a living heritage of French history and culture. In this in-depth article, we’ll explore the treasures of the French islands, from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, and give you a glimpse of the stunning diversity and charm of these distant paradises.

Known for its romantic boulevards, impressive castles and famous cuisines, France also has a vast overseas territory scattered across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. These overseas territories include French islands, atolls, and archipelagos, many of which have a rich history and culture.

These French Overseas Territories are not only beautiful destinations, but also unique places where the cultures and traditions of France merge with the influences of the local populations in a fascinating way. In this article, we will focus on some of the outstanding French islands that are worth visiting and explore their unique features, activities, and cultural treasures.

Guadeloupe: The Jewel of the Caribbean

Gouadeloupe from above
View of Gouadeloupe, Image: Robert Bleecher / shutterstock

Our first stop takes us to the Caribbean, more precisely to Guadeloupe. This archipelago consists of two main islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, separated by a narrow inlet, as well as several smaller islands. Guadeloupe is a French overseas territory and a paradise for nature lovers.

Nature and adventure

Basse-Terre, the western part of Guadeloupe, is characterized by dense rainforest and breathtaking waterfalls. Here you will find the Parc National de la Guadeloupe, a huge nature reserve that attracts hikers and adventurers alike. The La Soufrière volcano towers majestically over the island and offers hiking trails to its summit and crater.

But Guadeloupe doesn’t just offer green landscapes; the beaches are also stunning. The islands are surrounded by fine sandy beaches and turquoise waters, including the famous Plage de Grande Anse on Basse-Terre and the Plage de la Caravelle on Grande-Terre.

Culture and gastronomy

Guadeloupe is a melting pot of cultures, and this is reflected in its cuisine and culture. French, Creole, and African influences characterize the local cuisine, which is filled with exotic spices, seafood, and tropical fruits. Try dishes such as Colombo, a spicy curry, or Accras de Morue, deep-fried cod balls.

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The culture of Guadeloupe is also evident in the music and dance, especially in the traditional Gwo-Ka dance, which is often accompanied by drums. The islands also have a thriving art scene with local artisans and painters.

Martinique: The Flower of the Caribbean

Martinique Beach
Fantastic beach in Martinique, Image: Petr Kovalenkov / shutterstock

Just a short boat ride from Guadeloupe is Martinique, another French island in the Caribbean. Often referred to as “the flower of the Caribbean,” Martinique is known for its lush vegetation, surprising landscapes, and charming cities.

Volcanic wonders

The most distinctive geographical feature of Martinique is the active volcano Mont Pelée, which towers over the island. This volcano is the main attraction for nature lovers and adventurers. Hikes to the summit offer spectacular views, but caution is advised as the volcano is still active.

Fort-de-France and culture

The capital of Martinique, Fort-de-France, is a vibrant center of culture and history. Visit the Schoelcher Museum, dedicated to abolitionist Victor Schœlcher, or explore Dubuc Castle, a historic fort dating back to the 18th century.

Martinique is also famous for its Carnival celebrations, which are among the best in the Caribbean. The island thrives on music and dance, and Carnival is a perfect opportunity to get to know the island’s vibrant culture.

Rum and Gastronomy

Martinique is an important producer of rum, and visiting a rum distillery is among the popular things to do on the island. Try the famous Rhum agricole, which is made from fresh sugar cane juice and has a unique taste.

The cuisine of Martinique is a delight for the senses. Try local specialties such as blaff, a spicy fish dish, or accras, the popular deep-fried dumplings.

Réunion: The adventure in the Indian Ocean

Reunion Beach
Reunion is simply paradise, Image: Balate Dorin / shutterstock

We leave the Caribbean and make our way to the Indian Ocean, where we meet Réunion . This French island is a true natural paradise and offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

Volcanic wonders

Réunion is an island characterized by volcanoes. The active volcano Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and attracts adventurers and volcanologists from all over the world. Hikes to its craters offer insights into the power of nature.

Natural resources

Réunion is also rich in other natural treasures. The island is surrounded by deep gorges, waterfalls and dense rainforest. The Cirque de Mafate, a remote high valley, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular destination for hikers.

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Culture and food

Réunion is a melting pot of cultures, and its cuisine reflects this. Try rougail, a spicy dish made from meat or fish that is often served with rice, or cari, a spicy curry dish.

The island also has a vibrant music scene, especially the maloya, a traditional style of music that was shaped by African slaves.

French Polynesia: The Pearls of the Pacific

French Polynesia
Beach on Bora Bora, Image: gg-foto / shutterstock

French Polynesia is a huge archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean that consists of 118 islands and atolls. This region is known for its white sandy beaches, clear lagoons and luxurious bungalows over the water.

Dreamy beaches and water activities

The beaches of French Polynesia are world-famous. The beaches of Bora Bora are among the most beautiful in the world and are a paradise for water sports enthusiasts and divers. The clear lagoons are perfect for snorkeling and swimming.

Culture and Tiki

French Polynesia has a rich culture that is shaped by Polynesian traditions. Visit a tiki village to learn about the local art, music, and way of life.

The cuisine of French Polynesia is a delight for gourmets. Try poisson cru, a delicious raw fish salad, or taro, a starchy vegetable used in many dishes.

Overwater Bungalows

French Polynesia is known for its luxury resorts with overwater bungalows. Staying in such a bungalow offers ultimate privacy and spectacular views of the turquoise waters.

Corsica: The beauty of the Mediterranean

Corsica
On the road in Corsica, Image: Naeblys / shutterstock

Now we return to Europe and visit Corsica, the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean. Corsica is a jewel in the Mediterranean and offers impressive scenery, historic cities and dreamy beaches.

Mountains and beaches

Corsica is known for its dramatic mountains, including Monte Cinto, the highest peak on the island. Hikers will find a network of hiking trails that lead through lush forests, mountain lakes and impressive cliffs.

The beaches of Corsica are also spectacular. Palombaggia and Santa Giulia are among the most beautiful beaches, with fine white sand and crystal clear waters.

History and culture

Corsica has a rich history, marked by the Romans, Genoese and French. The capital, Ajaccio , is the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, and his birthplace can be visited.

Corsican cuisine is delicious and includes dishes such as cassoulet corse, a stew with sausage and beans, and fiadone, a delicious cheesecake.

The French islands are an amazing treasure trove of cultural diversity, natural beauty, and adventure. From the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, these islands offer unforgettable experiences steeped in a rich French history and culture.

Whether you want to explore the stunning landscapes of Réunion, enjoy the white beaches of Bora Bora , or sample the culinary delights of Guadeloupe, the French islands have something for everyone. They are a destination that appeals to the senses and refreshes the soul. Discover the beauty and diversity of the French islands and immerse yourself in the magic of these distant paradises.