September 2011
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Travel – French Guiana – in the Amazon region of South America

French Guiana is located in the Amazon region of South America; is a French department and hence the name, French Guiana. This region is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean; lying between Brazil and Suriname. To the east lies Brazil and to the west Suriname. French Guiana is an overseas region of France. It has a land area of about 83,534 km² and a population of approximately 229,000. Its capital is Cayenne and its currency is Euro.
Earlier there were three sub colonies of French Guiana and they are from west to east: British Guiana (now Guyana), Dutch Guiana (now Suriname) and French Guiana.
The two main geographical regions of French Guiana are the coastal strip and the rainforest. The Tumac-Humac Mountains lie in the rainforest, and the highest peak of this region is Bellevue de l’Inini (at a height of 851 m). Among other mountains are Mont Machalou (782 m), Pic Coudreau (711 m), Mont St Marcel (635 m), Mont Favard (200 m) and Montagne du Mahury(156 m). There are three Iles du Salut Salvation Islands including the Devil’s Island and the isolated Iles du Connétable which is a bird sanctuary located further towards Brazil. There is a dam in the north of the region that has created an artificial lake called the Barrage de Petit-Saut (built for providing hydroelectricity). One of the nine national parks of France is the Guiana Amazonian Park which is actually spread over 33,900 square kilometres (13,090 sq mi). This park is upon the communes of Camopi, Maripasoula, Papaïchton, Saint-Élie and Saül.
French Guiana’s administrative divisions are divided into 2 arrondissements and 19 cantons and 22 communes and they are:
1. Awala-Yalimapo
2. Mana
3. Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni
4. Apatou
5. Grand-Santi
6. Papaïchton
7. Saül
8. Maripasoula
9. Camopi
10. Saint-Georges
11. Ouanary
12. Régina
13. Roura
14. Saint-Élie
15. Iracoubo
16. Sinnamary
17. Kourou
18. Macouria
19. Montsinéry-Tonnegrande
20. Matoury
21. Cayenne
22. Remire-Montjoly

The Cities of French Guiana are:
• Cayenne: This is the administrative capital of French Guiana.
• Kourou: This is the city that hosts the space center and Arianespace.
• Saint-Laurent: this city is located on the Maroni River that forms the natural border between Surinam and French Guyana.
• Saint-Georges: This city is on the Oyapock River that forms the natural border between Brazil and French Guyana.
This area is a low-lying coastal plain that rises to hills, and small mountains and also consists of hill plateaus and the Tumuc-humac Mountains.
The official language of French Guiana is French but Creole is also widely spoken. Few understand English here. On the Maroni river, Taki-taki is spoken and basic Portuguese and basic Spanish are understood.

Attractions of French Guiana:
• Emerald jungle village: This village is the best of the eco tourism. It is in the Cayenne region and has the solar powered lodge which is a French Foreign Legion post. This is abandoned now. The building comprises of a library and on the property lie the botanical trail.
The lodge conducts excursions through eastern French Guiana; canoes and mountain bikes are also available on rent.
• Hattes Beach: This is a single nesting site for the giant leatherback turtles in the world. These turtles nest from April to July (which is peak season for more than 200 leatherbacks). Their eggs are known to hatch from July to September. Even green turtles nest here, along with Olive ridley turtles and hawksbill turtles. This beach also has a local museum giving information regarding turtles.
• Salvation islands: Its Local Name is Îles du Salut and these are tropical islands; a group of islands are known for being a brutal penal colony setup in 1852. There are 3 groups of islands; they are Île Royale, Île St Joseph, and the Île du Diable which is also known as the “Devil’s Island” being a penal colony from 1852 to 1953.
The population of these islands is about 2000. These islands are located in shark infested waters.
• Marshes of Caw: This is located in the Cayenne region and is a natural reserve. It is best for nature lovers. One can see abundant wildlife in here.
• Cayenne Zoo: This is also in the Cayenne region and is a zoo that is situated in a tropical rainforest.
• Place des Palmistes: This is known as the “place of the cabbage trees” and has monuments and gardens. This place is full of palm trees because of which it’s got its name.
• Avenue du General de Gaulle: This is also in the Cayenne region. This is a well known street for hotels, eateries and boutiques, named for the war hero and the former President of France.
• Place Grenoble: This is also in the Cayenne region. This is one of the main town squares full of public buildings.
• Place Victor Schoelcher Market: This is also in the Cayenne region and is Cayenne’s main vegetable market.
• Cayenne River: This river is well know for tourists to take a walk and enjoy the atmosphere around.
• Musee Departemental: This is also in the Cayenne region and is a museum that was an old Creole home.
• Fort Ceperou: This is also in the Cayenne region and is a fort that dates back to the 17th century and is on a high hillside location with perfect views.
• Fort Diamant: This is also in the Cayenne region and is a government structure dating back to 17th century.
• Remire-Montjoly Beach: This is a beach that is in the Cayenne region and there is an old sugar mill with some ruins. It has great views of the beach.
• Village Chinois (Chinatown): This is also in the Cayenne region. This village is full of Restaurants and markets and a bustling fish market.
• Kourou Space Centre (Centre Spatial Guyanais): This is a Science museum and a space centre in the Kourou region of French Guiana. It is known for more than 500 launches that started in the 1960s. One can take a guided tour and view its six launch sites that are the region’s most popular attractions.
• Kourou River: This is in the Kourou region of French Guiana. There are organized rides in pirogues, traditional hollowed-out log canoes.

Best time to visit / climate:
The climate of French Guiana is Tropical; hot, humid with minimal seasonal temperature variation.

Location on Google Maps:

View Larger Map

How to get there:

By plane: Cayenne-Rochambeau Airport (CAY) is the Airport that serves this place of French Guiana.
The flights that serve are:
– From Surinam, with Surinam Airways.
– From Brazil, formerly with Penta but now with Air Caribbes.
– From Martinique and Guadeloupe, with Air France and Air Caraibes
– From France, with Air France and Air Caraibes.
– From Panama with Air Caraibes.
– From Costa Rica with Air Caraibes.
– From Dominican Republic with Air Caraibes.
– From Miami with Air France.

By car: From Brazil a private barge serves across the Oiapoque River.
From Suriname, there is a ferry to cross the Maroni River.

By bus: From Brazil and Suriname, once you reach the border, cross the river with a motorboat or a dugout canoe.

By boat: From Brazil and Suriname, one has to cross the rivers Oyapoque and Le Maroni.

Get around: One can take a native craft or vessels and coastal river steamers or take minibuses to go between towns.

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers):


Blogs / Sites about French Guiana:

Images and photos of French Guiana:


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