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No. 95: Quirky French History

Yesterday I came across a bit of inspired French history on our way to Anse d’Arlet on the south western shore of Martinique.


To access Anse d’Arlet, a sleepy fishing village, we had to pass by Rocher du Diamont. Diamond Rock is a volcanic island across from Diamond Beach. Lush and green and 600 feet high, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Nowadays it is a famous diving spot renowned for its colorful sea life and assortment of marine birds, but it has a bit of quirky history attached to it from the colonial days.


Although Martinique was mostly held by the French colonialists, the British governed (or attempted to govern) the island for a few years here and there. In 1804, about a 100 English sailors landed on the rock and constructed a fort and armory. Once established, they proceeded to pester the French navy with surprise attacks and cannon fire as they attempted to cross the passage to deliver necessary supplies for the colonialists. These constant disruptions forced the French to abandon this passage. After 18 months (and no luck in retaking the fortified rock), the French decided to get creative.

Having heard that the British soldiers were becoming distraught from their long confinement on the rock and that the limited access to fresh water was contributing to their restlessness, they hatched a plan. They sent a small sailboat loaded with rum to the island. (Some accounts have them simply floating barrels of rum across the channel.) However the rum reached the soldiers, between the combination of thirst and stir craziness, the Brits were soon completely sloshed.

The French retook the outpost in a matter of days.


Now that’s some pretty clever military strategy, n’est-ce pas?


n’est-ce pas? isn’t it?

Rocher du Diamont: Diamond Rock


8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Emily Kaufman #

    Great story. Been loving your tales of Martinique! Brightens up this rainy Parisian weather here….

    Sent from my iPhone

    December 27, 2013
  2. hi, I’m happy to see you had a nice reveillon despite the rain. I’m trying out a job ( but I think I told you) in a magasin bio (eden bio) next to la galleria in lamentin. Maybe we can arrange to see each other .
    à bientôt,

    December 27, 2013
    • Hi there,
      We are still stranded with no gas. 😦 We have enough to make it to Sainte-Anne’s and back today and then enough to make it to the airport tomorrow. I am very sorry we won’t be able to meet. Do you ever come to Paris?

      December 30, 2013
  3. You seem to have sun in the south, nice.

    December 27, 2013
    • Yes we have had a lot of sun, especially the first week. More rain this week, but the sun has peaked out everyday except Christmas Eve. Is it very rainy in the north?

      December 28, 2013
      • Hello,

        Yes it is very rainy here. Funny that there is such a difference on that little island. I’m happy you can enjoy and profiter du beau temps, comme ça tu ramèneras un peu de soleil en Hiver à Paris.
        On attend que la grève des stations essences se termine car notre voiture est presque à sec.

        December 28, 2013
      • Salut encore. Yep our voiture est presque à sec (still). WE were able to get about a little bit of gas a few days ago, but now we only have enough gas to go to the nearby beach today and then (hopefully) make it to the airport tomorrow. Such a bummer. La prochaine fois, à Paris?

        Best to you and keep enjoying this beautiful island.

        December 30, 2013

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