Chateau Dubuc – 29/11/2017 – by Tristan Deeley

Main house and kitchen ruins at Dubuc Chateau

Perched close to the mangrove-coasted Baie de Tresor, the 18th century castle comes complete with a donkey-pulled sugar mill and all other associated machinery required to make sugar. The actual ruins of the castle were fairly degraded, but prominent structures such as the water tanks and the slaves’ prison are still well preserved. The tour used an interactive map and pen to activate the audio, and some displays lit up when you pressed the button labelled with a specific area of the mill. There was definitely some competition here, to see who could make the most things light up on the map.

View from the main house.

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Ironically the best preserved of the buildings was the slaves prisons.

Down the hill from the chateau, a large moulin stood. With two beams on either side, donkeys would rotate the mill and cause the three rollers in the middle to turn against each other; between these rollers sugar cane was placed, and the juice that was subsequently squeezed out flowed freely into the drains leading to the boilers. There was a long, complicated process; the exact details elude me with time, but basically the juices were boiled, and boiled, and solidified kind-of, and then boiled more. Various combinations of these produced either refined sugar or raw sugar. There was also a small rum distillery situated nearby, but the audio tour focussed very little on this, leading one to believe that the rum wasn’t the most important export of Chateau Dubuc. There were curing rooms, where the sugar was placed in a cone-shaped bag and the molasses dripped down and out of the tip of the coin, leaving a thick block of dry sugar. There was the storage room, to store the sugar, and a pier that had once carried this sugar off to other places. A gravity dam, as well as some kind of floodgates, were next to see. A single rectangular-shafted well was wreathed in fig trees, and their dangling vines. We of course kept our eyes out for the Manchineel tree; so toxic you can’t even stand underneath it, or breathe near it. We saw several trees with the distinctive red painted stripe on their trunk, courtesy of the locals.

 

Replica of the mill which used two donkeys to grind the sugar cane and the boilers used to separate the sugar from the juice.

Coffee was another thing Castle Dubuc exported; two large storerooms had been used to hold it all, and a coffee mill could be seen as well, used to remove the outer layers of the bean without crushing the bean itself.

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Views of the storage facilities that housed coffee and sugar.

One thing the audio tour didn’t mention; the owner of the Castle Dubuc was notorious for using a lantern to lure ships in to shore, wrecking them on the rocks so he could loot their goods. Whether the tour didn’t cover this because it had little to do with his estate, or because they believed it to be untrue, or any other reason, I don’t know. However, even skipping that intriguing tidbit, the Chateau Dubuc was a beautiful property and showed visitors a historical site of Martinique, and an informative lesson on the production of sugar, which used to be one of Martinique’s (and, indeed, most of the Caribbean’s) most important and influential crops.

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The ruins of Dubuc Chateau

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Dubuc Chateau is set on a peninsula over looking a beautiful bay with a very scenic drive out to it.

Dubuc Chateau Information

Opening hours – Open every day from 9am to 4.30pm.

Rates – Adults: 5 €, Children: 2 €, seniors, high school students, students € 3:

Audio tour included

Information – 05 96 58 09 00

http://pnr-martinique.com/visiter/le-chateau-dubuc/

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