We hired a car along with our friends off Totem to visit the town of St Pierre to see the ruins. It was a bit of a drive from St Anne, through the capital Fort de France to reach it, but well worth it.
The Picturesque town of St Pierre with the Mount Pelee Volcano in the background.
St Pierre was the capital of Martinique prior to Mount Pelee volcano eruption in 1902, which wiped out its 30 000 residents on May the 8th, except for a few people. The hot blast of gas and debris, decimated the population, ruined the city and boats in the harbour burned and sank. The famous survivor, Louis-Auguste Cyparis, who had been arrested earlier on the 8th of May for a street fight was in solitary confinement in a partially underground cell. His cell was without windows and had a small grating near the door that faced away from the volcano which is why he survived the pyroclastic cloud. He was rescued 4 days later by a rescue party, suffering burns to his back, legs and arms. Louis went on to star in a circus that toured America recounting his story. It is believed that there were two other survivors a shoemaker on the outskirts of town and a young girl who escaped in a boat.
The cell where Louis-Auguste Cyparis survived the explosion of Mt Pelee in 1902.
Today the most famous remnants of the Volcanic explosion besides the jail cell is the old theatre.
Theatre ruins in St Pierre
St-Pierre offers snorkeling and diving on some of the boats that sank from the volcano explosion, one is quite close to shore. You can also climb Mt Pelee, but you might want to do it early as the fog covers the top of the mountain, quite often. Throughout the town there are relics of buildings that survived the volcano. There are many cafes and restaurants to eat at while there too.
One of the surviving walls of a building in the town.
The ruins are free and easily accessible and there is free parking available not far from the ruins.