To the north of Carbet is the famous St-Pierre. The town is well worth a visit and is an eerie reminder of destructive natural forces in the Caribbean. The modern village is built on the ruins of the former capital of Martinique, which was destroyed by a cloud of molten volcanic ash when La Montagne Pelée erupted on 8 May 1902.
As the cultural and economic capital, the town was known as the ‘Petit Paris’ of the West Indies. Out of 26,000 inhabitants (St-Pierrotains) there was only one survivor, Auguste Cyparis (also known as Sylbaris), a casual labourer who had been thrown drunk into a cell for the night. Today his small cell is one of the ruins that visitors can still see. The prison is beside the remains of the once splendid and celebrated theatre of St-Pierre on rue Victor Hugo.
You can see the broad sweep of steps up to the entrance, the huge stage area, the first floor boxes and the rusting remains of the electric stage lighting. In the Musée Volcanologique Franck-Perret is an interesting collection of objects (mostly by Perret, an American) and documents evoking life before 1902 and remains from the disaster: household metal and glass objects charred and deformed by the extreme heat, photographs and volcanology displays. The bridge over the Rivière Roxelane, built in 1766, leads to the oldest part of the town, the Quartier du Fort. The ruins of the church are most moving.
A new attraction on the road north out of St-Pierre is Le Centre de Découverte des Sciences de la Terre part scientific, part educational, part tourist site. Permanent and temporary exhibitions include information on volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes.