Martinique, Surf et Photographie. Le tiercé gagnant d’Olivier Egloff, Reporter de sensations fortes

Entre le championnat de Martinique, la coupe de France de Surf et dans quelques jours, le Martinique Surf Pro 2017 – une compétition internationale qui réunira plus de 140 surfeurs venus du monde entier – l’actualité surf est bien chargée ces derniers jours.

Parce que chez Martinique Travel Consulting,  on aime aborder les choses sous un angle un peu différent, c’est à travers le regard d’Olivier Egloff, photographe, que nous avons décidé de vous faire découvrir l’univers du Surf. En peu de temps, il est devenu en Martinique une référence incontournable en matière de photographie de surf. Focus sur le parcours de ce Reporter de sensations fortes.

Olivier Egloff SelfieCertes, Olivier et la photographie, c’est une longue histoire d’amour. Plus qu’une passion, un « virus que sa mère lui a transmis dès son plus jeune âge » nous a t-il confié. Pourtant, c’est dans un tout autre univers qu’il va démarrer sa vie professionnelle : celui de l’artisanat du bâtiment. Après avoir sillonné la France, l’Angleterre et l’Italie en tant que charpentier chez les Compagnons du Devoir, dévoré par ses envies d’ailleurs, il décide finalement de voyager “librement”. Tour à tour moniteur de kitesurf et de plongée sous-marine aux Canaries, en Egypte puis en Thaïlande,  c’est finalement en Martinique qu’il décide de poser ses valises il y a un an et demi pour se consacrer entièrement à sa passion pour la photographie.

The EscapeUne discipline qui, tout comme le surf, nécessite une excellente condition physique, un bon niveau de natation, d’apnée, de solides connaissances sur le milieu marin. Mais pas seulement…. Car photographier des surfeurs, c’est avant tout maitriser dans l’eau un matériel imposant, mais aussi composer avec la nature et les éléments extérieurs : les vagues, les courants, la lumière naturelle et bien entendu… les surfeurs ! Une communauté au sein de laquelle Olivier s’est intégré sans aucune difficulté. « De tous mes voyages, c’est sans appel l’endroit ou j’ai rencontré aussi facilement autant de personnes vraiment adorables et avec autant de bonnes vibrations. C’est une communauté ouverte et accueillante, plein de belles valeurs de respect et de partage. »

Young ThugEt lorsque l’on demande à Olivier Egloff ce qui, selon lui, rend ses photographies  si « spéciales », voici ce qu’il nous répond : « C’est une question difficile. J’ai mis longtemps à me sentir légitime puisque ce n’est pas ma formation initiale. J’ai tout appris seul et ça n’a pas été facile. Quand je pense à mon métier aujourd’hui, ce dont je suis le plus heureux, c’est d’avoir l’opportunité d’aller dans les vagues avec les surfeurs. C’est un moment de partage et d’émotions absolument incroyable. Cela procure des  sensations tellement intenses. C’est impossible à décrire. Je pense qu’il faut vraiment le vivre pour comprendre.  Il y a comme un courant qui passe, une énergie que l’on se transmet mutuellement. C’est peut être en cela que mes photos se « démarquent » . Toutes ces émotions, la magie de l’instant, l’amour, c’est vraiment ce que j’essaye de véhiculer. »

Til The Last Drop

Si vous souhaitez en savoir plus sur le travail d’Olivier Egloff, rendez-vous sur http://www.olivieregloffphotography.com. Notez également qu’à l’occasion de la Coupe de France de Surf qui se déroulera à l’Anse Bonneville à Tartane le vendredi 31 mars 2017, Olivier Egloff exposera sur la plage.

The « Tombolo » in Sainte-Marie is now entirely opened but it won’t last. Do not miss it! It is a treasure.

Once a year, during a few weeks (between February and May), something kind of magical happens in Sainte-Marie City:  The sea level gets lower and a sand bar appears connecting to a tiny island named « L’ilet de Sainte-Marie ».  So if you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, just go. You will not regret…

IMG_6208 2

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I walked on the water! Yes ! I did that and it was so exciting!

According to the dictionary, the Tombolo is a sand bar connecting a small island to the mainland or to another island. I know, said like this, really, I do not sell dreams… But that is theory. In fact, it is not less than an amazing scenery Mother Nature offers once a year during a short time. In seven letters: AWESOME!

The Story of « Ilet Sainte Marie »:

Over time,  due to its strategic position « Ilet Sainte-Marie »  was an observation post during wars, a tiny port and even a place for harvest of sugar cane. Besides, you will see the ruins of a small railway that were used to transport marchandises to Sainte-Marie. It is now a Nature Reserve whose primary mission is to protect the bay during bad weather.

The place was developed with footpaths and stairs giving a chance to discover the « ilet » and its surprisingly diverse landscapes.

Note that paths on the right side of the « Ilet » are not accessible during nesting season (from 1st April to 31st August) because it is a nature reserve inhabited by the Roseate Terns (in French: « Les Sternes de Dougall »), a seabirds species.

« Ilet Sainte-Marie » is one of nature’s oddities that is so worth the visit! Whether you are in vacation or you live here, alone or with your family, you have to visit it ! Clearly another not-to-be-missed event in Martinique!

Pay attention: Although this area looks really nice and peaceful, bathing is dangerous and  not supervised. Stay safe!

 

Carnival in Martinique: A Unique, Colorful and Lively Celebration

If you are in Martinique right now or if you plan to travel to this beautiful French Caribbean Island within early-March, lucky you: you will have the opportunity to experience our famous Carnival!

Even though festivities started a few weeks ago now, the Carnival will go full swing from the 26th of February to the 1st of March 2017. A truly unique celebration that you do not want to miss if you are around! Come and join the fun of Carnival!

Let’s get ready for the 2017 Carnival

© Pierre Jullian
© Pierre Jullian

Carnival in Martinique is a very popular event. It occurs annually during the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday. The festivities start right after the Epiphany and during almost 2 months, they are going to grow in intensity: bands, parties, and parades progressively fill the streets of villages across Martinique. This is Carnival Fever!

© Pierre Jullian
© Pierre Jullian

Known in Martinique as « Dimanche Gras », Fat Sunday is the official first day of Carnival and features daytime parades with a wide range of costumed characters performing throughout the streets of Martinique cities and villages. That’s the day when you can meet the Carnival Queens and its Majesty « Vaval » – the king of Carnival – a satirical figure representing a politician, a public figure or an institution, which is carried through the streets leading to the festival parade.

On Monday, Carnival turns into a burlesque day full of weddings that are unusual for the least. Men and women challenge gender roles for weddings, with men dressing in drag and women dressing as bridegrooms.

© Pierre Jullian
© Pierre Jullian

Tuesday is known as the day of the devil.

All day long the inhabitants of Martinique celebrate by dressing all in red and wear devil masks in parades and celebrations across the island.

On Ash Wednesday – final celebration – everybody is dressed in black and white to escort its Majesty Vaval to its cremation. It is the last opportunity to indulge before the 40 days of Lent.

Just a tip : Do not even try to park downtown Fort-de-France and be aware of traffic congestions at the end of the parade !

If you want to learn more about the 2017 Carnival Agenda before you visit Martinique, please, click here.

Chanté Nwel – Visit Martinique for Christmas

In Martinique, Christmas celebrations are very important and start long before December 25th, like the famous : « Chanté Nwel » (literally “sing Christmas” in creole), a typical way to celebrate Christmas time singing and dancing in a friendly and joyful atmosphere. It is indeed a serious reason to visit Martinique for Christmas. 
Les "CantiK Sans Prétention"
Les “CantiK Sans Prétention”
Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be invited to a traditional family« Chanté Nwel », where everyone brings traditional local Christmas food (« Patés salés », « Boudin créole »,…), drinks to share and everyone sings and dances together. And if you have just landed in Martinique and do not know many people yet, you can also attend a not so private and consequently more accessible « Chanté Nwel » organized by the local city, an association or even by a Bar Restaurant. Note that sometimes, a financial contribution may be asked – about 20 euros. It does not appeal to everyone as many people wish the event were less of a commercial operation. In my opinion, this does not take away the very positive Christmas feeling. 
 
Last Friday, I was invited to the « Chanté Nwel » of a private hospital in Fort de France. It was my first one for this year and knowing what it was all about, I was really excited. As quite often for this kind of event, women are asked to bring something to eat and men something to drink. And everyone is supposed to bring what we call here « Cantiques » a collection of Christmas carols in French (which I suggest you purchase if you plan to intend one). Some of them are just beautiful.
Can you imagine dozens and dozens of people gathered in good spirit with one and only common goal: Celebrate Christmas. img_4658Time stops for a few hours and you just keep concentrate on your « cantique » to sing as loud as you can, with all your heart. And do not worry if you sing a little out of tune, music will probably cover your voice! Because the other amazing thing in a « Chanté Nwel » is the musical background: Flute, Guitar, Drum, Harpsichord,… And there’s always a band that rocks the party!
I had a wonderful time last night and that is the kind of magical moment that makes me so proud to be a Martinique resident. So, if you are in Martinique right now and if you have the opportunity to experience a « Chanté Nwel », trust me, just go : this is definitely the kind of local celebration that you do not want to miss!  
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 My Special Thanks go to the band “Cantik Sans Prétention“, an awesome band and to Steeve Courcet, Photographer.

« Zamana », one of Martinique’s many treasures.

In Martinique, we have the sun shining almost 365 days a year, we have amazing white sandy beaches, we have a delicious and exotic cuisine, we have probably one of – not to say – the best rum in the world, we have beautiful flowers everywhere and adorable hummingbirds flying over our heads. But what we also have – and that is maybe less known – is a very special tree named Le Zamana, carefully preserved at the Habitation Céron in Le Prêcheur (North of the island).

I have lived in arbre-richard-1Martinique for 5 years now and I have to confess : I never took the time to go and take a look at this tree named Zamana until a few days ago.

We had this contest lately L’arbre de l’année 2016 (Tree of the year), a national contest organized by the French Magazine Terre Sauvage (Wild Land in English) and the National Forests Office, and guess which tree just got the Publics Choice Award? The Zamana of course. So, yes, I had to go and see by myself what exactly it was all about.

fullsizerenderAfter a beautiful sunny day at Anse Couleuvre  beach, I decided to stop at l’habitation Céron on my way back home. I parked the car, walked a few minutes looking for the famous tree and there it was. I can hardly describe what I felt like when standing right in front of this very impressive tree, over 3 centuries old, and so majestic. Its trunk is more than 2.50 meters wide. In a few seconds, I realized why it was just elected the most beautiful tree of France this year. This is definitely a unique and magical show.

Welcome to Paradise!

Plus, located in the heart of a peacefull garden, you will find a restaurant  with amazing food. So yes, once again, I can assure that Martinique will surprise you in many ways and it is worth visiting Martinique for your vacation.

Martinique, Food Heaven

There is so much to say about the Caribbean Cuisine and so many dishes you just have to try when you visit Martinique that I don’t really know where to start.

The Chicken Colombo, the «Accras»img_2690 (which are actually fried codfish, served as an appetizer, a serious not-to-be-missed), the Boudin (spicy blood sausage), fresh seafood, local vegetables, fresh exotic fruits,… So many smells, so many colors, so many flavors… A pure delight for both the eyes and taste buds!

img_2657Here is one of the many reasons why you should definitely plan a trip to Martinique : Martinique is a true paradise for gourmands and gourmets. As you will see, French influence has been transported across the Atlantic. But our cuisine is much more complex and richer than it seems : it is a delicious mix of French, African and Indian influences which make it full of taste and exoticism.  One thing is sure, we have no reason to be jealous of anyone around! Martinique’s cuisine reflects its complex history and cultural heritage! From classical French cuisine to local specialities, there is definitely something for everyone! According to your tastes and your wishes, you will have the opportunity to try a fresh lobster on the beach in a tiny popular eatery, as well as French gastronomy since we have a wide choice of restaurants here. Plus, if you are a food loving traveler and you want to learn more about our cooking tradition, you can even take a cooking class with a local chef!

But you should know that we are far from fast food and brisk service here. Martinique has made the img_3012choice to preserve authenticity so please, keep in mind that standards are different in the Caribbean and that patience is a must here! Plus, I strongly recommend you call ahead for lunch and dinner reservations, since Martinique tends to become a destination of choice, especially in season (from November to May).

If you want to learn more about our food in Martinique and challenge yourself to cook delicious “Accras”, here is a video to inspire you : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuP7a4-9y2A. I can guarantee that when you visit Martinique, you will have a great time exploring our cuisine.

Flights to Martinique

For those of you who are preparing for your next vacation,  did you know that there are now more direct flights to Martinique than before ?

Les Anses d'ArletFellow travelers, you’ve got all the reasons to be happy: with more flights to Martinique departing from the US and all over the world, it’s the right time to have a taste of France within easy reach.

This season, Martinique is opening to the rest of the world. The French Caribbean island, which is one of the most popular destination for French vacationers, becomes more accessible and more affordable. Thanks to the great work of the “SAMAC” (the company in charge of the management of Aimé Césaire Airport) and the Martinique Promotion Bureau, more and more flights make Fort-de-France (FDF) a very convenient destination :  connections  from/to Miami (FL) and Montreal (YMQ) are still operating and are now more frequent.

Besides, the low cost company Norwegian Airlines announced that it will be resuming its non stop flights from New York (JFK), Boston (BOS) and Baltimore DC (BWI) from November 2016 through the end of May 2017 at least. For more information on flight times, visit the Norwegian website.

Also, Aimé Césaire Airport is undertaking major renovation that will significantly improve passengers’ experience (larger, more modern…) and within 2020, the airport will be brand new.

Our German visitors will also benefit from improved connections. The airline Condor is launching flights from Frankfurt to Tobago with a stopover in Fort-de-France, every Sunday, starting in November 2016.

And just so you know, a new route between Brazil and Martinique is very likely to be launched in the very near future.

Now is the right time to book your flight to Martinique and to enjoy a relaxing vacation.