May 8, 1902, Depaz family disappears during the eruption of Mount Pelée that destroyed the city of Saint-Pierre at the same time. One family member Depaz, Victor Depaz, a young student living in Bordeaux where he studied, escapes tragedy.
Saint-Pierre is a municipality in the North Caribbean of Martinique. It is located north of Carbet and Fonds Saint Denis, west of Morne Rouge, Ajoupa-Bouillon and Basse-Pointe and south of Macouba and Grand'Rivière and Prêcheur.
Saint-Pierre owes its name to the eponymous apostle, the patron saint of its founder Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc.
The history of Saint-Pierre goes back to the beginnings of the island. On September 15, 1635, the filibuster Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc landed in the harbor of Saint-Pierre with 150 men planned to colonize the island. It is the first permanent colonization of Martinique by Europeans.
After settling in the region of Saint Pierre, the first settlers from Martinique set out to conquer the rest of the island. They wish to enslave the Caribbean Indians who are there but they flee the place or still prefer to commit suicide on a place today symbolic in the north of the town, the Tomb of the Karib. This last piece of information turned out to be a legend but the place does exist.
Shortly after the installation of the French, the latter built a fort, a church, a commercial port and houses. Various cultures alternate depending on the flagship products of the moment: tobacco, annatto, indigo, cocoa and then sugar cane around the middle of the 17th century.
Saint-Pierre prospered at the same time. It becomes the city of the elites, of the rich colonial bourgeoisie. From the outset, it was the administrative capital of the island because it was the host city for the Governor's Palace. The hospital was established in 1665.
In 1671, the city was destroyed by fire.
In 1692, the Governor's Palace was transferred to Fort-Royal and Saint-Pierre thus lost its status as administrative capital but remained the economic capital and the cultural center of Martinique until 1902.
In 1760, the city set up a chamber of commerce and agriculture which sent a deputy to Paris.
20 years later, in 1780, a strong hurricane produced a 7.6m tidal wave that flooded the city destroying all the houses and killing 9,000 people.
In 1789, Saint Pierre inhabitant supported the revolutionary power against the Békés who were supporters of royalty.
Saint-Pierre had developed thanks to the sugar industry and the slave trade. The city attracts ships and merchants from all over the world. A wealthy merchant bourgeoisie took off and built country houses above Saint Pierre in Morne Rouge to take advantage of the coolness on Sundays. They modernize the city by providing it with public and leisure facilities that have nothing to envy to its European models.
Nicknamed the “Little Paris”, the “Paris of the Isles”, the “Pearl of the Antilles” or even the “Tropical Venice”. Saint-Pierre was both the economic and cultural capital of all the Antilles.
In 1900, it was the only city in the Caribbean to have an electric lighting network, a horse-drawn tram, a chamber of commerce, one of the first asylums treating the mentally illness patients, a botanical garden, a very active port and a 800-seat theater built in 1786 on the model of the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux.
In deficit, the theater was closed in 1901.
The city of Saint Pierre at the height of its glory was, however, going to be reduced to ashes. On May 8, 1902, the Pelée volcano erupted and greatly destroyed the city. All its inhabitants are killed either victims of the strong explosion which preceded the volcano, the smells of the fiery cloud or the lava flows. The eruption of Pelée will make 32,000 victims and will become the biggest natural disaster in the history of the island. Only 3 survivors resist the tragedy.
Several eruptions will take place in the same year but as the city had emptied of its inhabitants, the victims were less thereafter. The material damage will be even more important during the eruption of August than that of May 8, 1902.
Fort de France becomes the only capital of Martinique. It concentrates both administrative powers and becomes the economic heart of the island. The French state is organizing a plunder to recover the gold and cash from the banks of Saint-Pierre. Even the jewels on the corpses are torn off with the promise (not kept) to return them to the families of the deceased.
Fountains, statues, marble and even cannons are taken.
Saint Pierre remains uninhabited for years. On February 15, 1910, Saint-Pierre was struck from the map of the municipalities of France.
It was not until the 1920s that the first inhabitants returned to settle in the city and 1923 so that Saint Pierre again became a municipality. It is gradually being rebuilt. The Chamber of Commerce has been rebuilt identically and is currently one of the most beautiful architectural works in the city.
In 1990, Saint Pierre was awarded the City of Art and History label. May 8, a public holiday in Martinique to commemorate the armistice of World War II, is also a day to remember the biggest natural disaster on the island.
Today, Saint Pierre and its history attracts many tourists.
The main districts of the municipality are Quartier des 3 Ponts, Habitation Plaisance, Pecoul, Perinelle, Saint James and Savane du Fort.
List of places to visit in the municipality
Distilleries & Rhumeries
Places to visit
The Centre de Découverte des Sciences et de la Terre (Discovery Center of Earth Sciences) of the General Council of Martinique was inaugurated in 2004.
The district of Mouillage owes its name to the fact that the majority of boats were moored in front of him. It was the popular area of Saint Pierre, where most of the employees of the port staying.
Beyond the years, the city of Saint-Pierre retains traces of the terrible eruption of Mount Pelee in 1902. The entire town destroyed by the volcano was partially rebuilt on the ruins left by the volcano.
Manman Dlo is an underwater sculpture present in the city of Saint-Pierre. Manman Dlo means "mermaid of the Martinican seas" in Creole. It is inspired by tales, tradition, the sacred.
Located at 5 km north of Saint-Pierre, the Tombeau des Caraïbes (Tomb of the Carib Indian) owes its name to the fact that according to legend, the Carib Indian would have preferred to skip past this cliff and commit suicide rather than be enslaved by the French.
The Vierge des Marins (Virgin of the sailors) was erected in 1870. At this time, it was at the time more than 8 tons and was 7km of Mount Pelee.
Located on the site of the old battery Esnotz, Franck A.