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Fort-de-France, Martinique

Program Description

Created by JMU Professor Christiane Szeps-Fralin, whose mother was Martinican, the two-week JMU Program in Martinique offers students a three-credit course and the best of all opportunities to thoroughly familiarize themselves with Caribbean culture in a prosperous, multi-ethnic environment. Indeed, the program also offers the unique experience of studying and living in a French Creole culture. Created by the blending of French and African traditions, this culture has its own rich history, language, cuisine, music and lifestyle.

Students will take one three-credit course listed under FL309 – Civilization: Travel-Study taught in English by Christiane Szeps-Fralin, professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures and Professor Alfred G. Fralin. The program will be organized thus:

1) Weekly morning classroom lectures in English

2) Afternoon and weekend activities such as visits to the University of Antilles in Schoelcher, guided tours to the Pre-Colombian museum, the Gauguin museum, the Saint-Pierre museum, La Pagerie, sugarcane museum, Clément Plantation, the Petrified Savannah, Balata tropical gardens, vanilla grove, JM Rum Distillery, banana, pineapple and sugar plantations, Le Gallion sugarcane refinery, Fort-de-France and other island historical and cultural landmarks such as Case-Pilote, le Diamant, Sainte-Anne, Les Salines, market places, climbing Mount Pelée, weaving and pottery artisan workshops, tropical forest walking tours, sea excursions, concerts, traditional dance performances, kayaking, catamaran sailing outings, etc.

Location Description

Located between the islands of Dominica and Sainte-Lucia, the Caribbean island of Martinique has much to offer topographically. In the lofty and rugged north, surrounding the volcanic Mount Pelée (1,397 meter-high), there is a luxuriant rain forest of colossal trees, gigantic bamboo, hanging vines, waterfalls, arborescent ferns, anthuriums, avocado orchards, banana and pineapple plantations. The south in contrast, has low, rounded hills and alluvial flatlands where sugar cane abounds next to long golden beaches.

Martinique, the homeland of Empress Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, Napoleon’s first wife, was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502 and became a French colony in 1635. The vast majority of its current 380,000 inhabitants are descendants of plantation slaves brought by the French from Africa in the 17th and 18th centuries during the slave trade. France abolished slavery in 1848. Martinique remained a French colony until 1946 when the island acquired full French overseas statehood, thus a part of a special territories of the European Union and the currency in use is the euro. The entire population speaks both French, the only official language and Martinican Creole, its own form of an Antillean Creole.

Martinique’s main and only airport is Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport. It serves flights to and from Europe, the Caribbean, Venezuela, the United States and Canada.

Fort-de-France, its capital, is a port city that has regular ferry service to Guadeloupe, Dominica and St. Lucia. There are also several local ferry companies that connect Fort-de-France to other parts of the island.

Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange. Most visitors come from mainland France, Europe, Canada and the USA.


Christiane Szeps-Fralin | | French, Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures


Students, director and professor will stay in the CISM (Center of International Stay in Martinique) in air-conditioned double-rooms, each equipped with a bathroom and free internet access. The morning lectures will take place in one of the CISM's air-conditioned conference rooms. The CISM, located in Fort-de-France (Capital of Martinique) is convenient to public transportation. Private coach bus will be covered by the program to all required outing activities.

Full room and board will be covered by the program (except travel days to and from Martinique) in the following manner: In Martinique, all breakfasts and dinners will be taken at the CISM. Students will be allocated by the program a stipend that will cover all lunches during their Martinique program.

Additional Items to Consider

Textbooks will be provided by the program.

Full room and board, all excursions, outings, museums, plays, concerts, will covered by the program fee.

Airfare and spending money are not included.

Students will be required to have a passport. No visa required for American citizens.

COVID-19 Location Information:

Each country has different requirements upon entry with regard to COVID-19. Please check this website for the most up-to-date information on what is required for the country (or countries) that are part of this program. Please note that this changes often, so we encourage you to check back frequently.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.7

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • List of academic references
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


FL 309: French Caribbean Culture in Martinique (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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