The highlight of any shopping adventure in Martinique is Le Grand Marché Couvert, or Covered Market, located in Fort-de-France. Designed by French architect Henri Picq and constructed in 1901 (later restored in 1989), this bustling bazaar is where locals have bought and sold essential Caribbean herbs, spices, produce and other goods for generations. Rows of fragrant spices, including the local curry powder known as “colombo,” as well as medicinal herbs, exotic fruits like chayotes (locally known as “christophines”), and indigenous vegetables such as yams or “ignames” as they’re called in Martinique are everywhere.
The colorful displays of edible offerings, combined with the multi-hued tropical flowers that are also sold at the market make for priceless photos. Yet, visitors who come to the market equipped, not to take pictures, but purchase souvenirs will find a variety of hand-crafted wooden bowls, traditional “bakoua” or straw hats and Creole dolls, as well as the many homemade confectionaries that constitute an age-old tradition in Martinique; “filibos” or “pilibos” are colorful candies made from cane sugar. Pistachio nougat is another island specialty as are crystallized fruits.