French course in Martinique: a first-hand review

Cactus’ Alessia Ungari decides to learn French in one of our most exotic locations, Martinique, and doesn’t regret it for a minute…

Having started my French Elementary 3 evening course in Brighton with Cactus, I felt it was time to enhance my language skills with an experience on the spot. I wasn’t sure where to go; there were many cities in France that I could have chosen from. But browsing the Cactus website I realized that France wasn’t the only option if I wanted to improve my French. How many of you knew about MARTINIQUE? An island in the Caribbean sea, where the official language is French. The choice was irresistible!

Cactus helped me plan my trip: language course in the mornings, accommodation in a modern and bright residence in the Village Creole and airport transfer from Fort-de-France airport.

This is the perfect schedule for a language holiday, since it gives you the chance to learn the language every day in the morning, and leaves you free time for the rest of the day to discover the local culture, to explore the place and of course to boost your skills by practicing what you’ve learnt in class with the natives. Also, the school’s staff were always happy to advise about activities: every day was a new adventure!

One day we decided to rent a car, heading to the south of the island. I enjoyed driving whilst observing the amazing landscapes on our way: small villages where the locals’ hospitality and friendliness was beyond words.

An alternative to the car is the funny trip on the Taxico (Taxi collectif): a sort of shared taxi, smaller than a bus, that usually departs with no timetable, but when all seats are filled. We found it a convenient and cheap solution to go to the black-sand beaches of the North and to the east Atlantic coast where we enjoyed a whole day on the crystal-clear waters and trying to join a very traditional Caribbean party in the bar nearby.

One afternoon we managed to book, through the school, a diving lesson, called baptism in my case, as it was the first time. What an awesome experience to be 8 metres under the sea: colours, species and shells that I’ve never seen before. Cactus offers both diving and kite-surfing to combine with French lessons, and it’s definitely worth doing one of these activities if you are in Martinique. Also, it could inspire you for future hobbies – for example in my case I’m now planning to sign up for a diving course in my city!

Something that you can’t avoid if you are in the Antilles is the fascinating rhythm of zouk and compas, the two traditional dances of the Caribbean islands. In Martinique I was overwhelmed by this music while buying mangos and coconuts at the Grand Marché, walking in the street, and even during the last day at the school where the teacher showed us the basic dance steps and involved all the students in a fun dancing session. All this, followed by a traditional lunch with poulet Colombo, tropical fruits and local wine. We had lots of fun and unconsciously my French was progressing minute after minute.

Not far from the school is the Jardin de Balata, a botanical garden which contains many varieties of tropical plants and exotic flowers from around the world. As part of the tour in the garden, we did a walk on a bridge between the treetops. How exciting!

In a word, everything about my experience was perfect. I only wish it was longer. Thanks Cactus for this fantastic opportunity! I can’t wait to leave for another exciting language holiday soon 🙂

Cactus offers French courses in Martinique, France and Canada. We also offer French courses in the UK to help you learn the basics or brush up on existing skills before you head off.

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