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French Guiana

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French overseas departments, French Guiana is located on the northeast coast of South America, in the north of Brazil. Mostly covered by tropical forest, French Guiana offers France its Amazon, rich in exceptional biodiversity. The natural reserves and zoo of French Guiana, the natural egg-laying sites of marine turtles and the majestic rivers are all expressions of remarkable fauna and flora. With more than 8 million hectares of forest, Guyana is one of the last remaining green lungs on the planet. Going up a river by pirogue to penetrate this preserved nature and cross remote villages is an unforgettable experience. This destination also evokes the Cayenne prison (1852-1938) and its convicts, and, in another register, the Guyanese Space Centre put into service in 1968. Located in Kourou and Sinnamary, this French and European spacecraft launch base sees the departure of Ariane rockets as well as telecommunications satellites. In Cayenne, under the ruins of Fort Cépérou (17th century), we appreciate the colourful Creole houses and the vitality of the markets, shops and cafés in the palm-lined Place des Palmistes. You will not miss a stopover at Monjoly Beach, on the Atlantic Ocean. Change of scenery with the discovery of the village from Cacaowhere you will appreciate the craftsmanship of the Asian community Hmongs, immigrated here in the 1970s or the Amerindian village Awala-Yalimapo, at the confluence of the Mana and Maroni rivers.

What to see, what to do French Guiana?

When to go French Guiana ?

Consult the calendar of school holidays in French Guiana and if you plan a stay during these periods, book your flights and hotel in advance. In addition, the tourist season is structured around two events, on the one hand the carnival (three to four weeks of festivities from January to February), and on the other hand the turtle laying season (particularly from April to August). But the carnival causes a much higher peak in attendance than that of turtle egg laying. Carnival takes place every Sunday afternoon, between Epiphany at the beginning of January and Ash Wednesday in February or March. Groups dressed up according to the year's theme march around decorated floats, to the rhythm of percussion and brass in front of thousands of people. The preparation of the celebration takes months. Then the touloulous go to a nightclub! French Guiana also has a peak in attendance at Kourou, during the launch of a rocket

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Travel French Guiana

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Covid-19 : current situation French Guiana

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, entry and travel restrictions may apply French Guiana. Remember to visit the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before you leave for the latest information
Practical information for travel French Guiana

There's no need to hurry in Guyana, it's better to take the time to savour every moment in the different places you visit, taste the local specialities and listen to the sounds of the forest... The events that punctuate Guyanese life such as the carnival, the sea turtle nesting season or rocket launches must also be taken into account when preparing your stay. Even if more than 90% of French Guiana is covered by forest, there is still 10% (practicable) to discover, and a week on the spot gives you a good idea! You will be able to sail on the Maroni jumps or to privilege the coastline... If you have two weeks, the possibilities are already more numerous, and the different facets of French Guiana are yours: rivers, islands, walks and climbing in the forest, hikes on the trails... Here are some suggestions for short, long and thematic stays.

How to go French Guiana

How to go alone

No problem to arrive in Cayenne, book your hotel in advance, find an excursionist on site, go hiking, etc.... If you do well, your stay will cost you (much) less than if you had bought a turnkey stay. Some sites will help you find airline tickets at the best price. Some of them compare the prices of regular and low-cost airlines. You will find air-only flights (air transport sold alone, without other services) at the best price.

How to go on a tour

Guyana being a French territory, organized trips are legion for this destination. You will have only the embarrassment of choice and the proposals for discovering the Amazonian forest, canoe trips, the scientific discovery of the space centre, the observation of marine turtles are on your program. These stays are quite expensive.

How to get around

The main means of transport in French Guiana is by car. For the inhabitants of the rivers it is the canoe. Scooters are popular with young people, but during the tour of Guyana in August, bicycles are in fashion. The municipalities of Saül, Maripasoula, Grand Santi and Saint-Laurent are connected to Cayenne by airplane. In flight, the view of the forest is superb. Take one flight, the other one by canoe!

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Discover French Guiana

The green hell... Under this terrible nickname, French Guiana has always had the reputation, which the testimonies of convicts have not denied, of a country where life is not easy. Then, it was given the image of an El Dorado surveyed by thousands of gold diggers. Finally, that of a department under tension, after the great strike of 2017 ... From one extreme to the other, nothing is worth more than your own opinion!

Because if we detect in these clichés an undeniable part of truth, the Guyanese daily life is much richer, much more nuanced and especially much more pleasant. Indeed, we find there a mixed population with a rich history of glorious episodes as much as tormented (like the picaresque tales of escape from the prison), a fauna and a flora quite simply amazing, a Creole gastronomy with rare spices, a unique carnival in the world ultra-codified, a huge space center and many other treasures!

Pictures and images French Guiana

Maquette d'Ariane V. Hugo Canabi - Iconotec
Quartier colonial de Cayenne. Helenedevun - Fotolia
Groupe déguisé en ramboutan lors du carnaval. Sandra DAVEAU
Bord de mer. Sandra DAVEAU

The 12 keywords French Guiana

1. #Fallen

The very symbol of traditional subsistence culture, it is a piece of land taken from the forest, which is cleared and then burned. These slash-and-burn cultures, which often surprise the visitor, redraw the landscape. It's a bit like the vegetable garden in metropolitan France: each one plants bananas, dachines, various fruits and vegetables...

2. #Adventure

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On Guyanese soil, adventure is bound to be the order of the day as there are so many possibilities for expeditions. Between the descent of the Maroni River or the ascent of the Oyapock River, a feverish escapade in Suriname, a night in a hammock in Brazil or a trip to the Kaw marshes, the change of scenery is such that each activity takes on the appearance of being fully equipped!

3. #Brokodé

The Bushiningués pay homage to those who died in the Brokodé ceremony. For three days, the village celebrates. The inhabitants of the surroundings invite themselves: prayers, songs, traditional dances and modern music beat the rhythm. About a year later, during the Pubaka, new animations celebrate the end of mourning.

4. #Carbet

Traditional Amerindian dwelling made of a roof made of palm leaves and woven with Aroman threads. Nowadays, the carbet tends to be replaced by the tin or hard house. The Amerindians still keep a large traditional carbet, tapitu'a, for celebrations. Carbets are also tourist accommodations in the forest.

5. #Carnival

A period of jubilation for the entire population, the carnival in French Guyana is being prepared physically, financially and psychologically. It lasts at least one month and can be spread over three. The festival starts in discotheques on Wednesdays for some and ends on Sundays. What stamina! The big parades (Cayenne and Kourou) are worth the detour

6. #Couac

Manioc transformed into semolina that you will certainly taste during more or less prolonged stays in the forest. Each Guyanese cook has his own recipe! Without a doubt, the tabbouleh that you will eat will be based on couac and, rest assured, it is healthy and delicious. When cassava comes in the form of pancakes, it is called cassava.

7. #Rocket

French Guiana is also the Guiana Space Centre, and therefore the possibility to witness the launch of Ariane 5 (soon 6!), Soyuz or Vega. About ten launches are scheduled each year. Visiting the space centre is also an opportunity to enter the technological and mysterious universe of the conquest of the sky ... Houston!... Houston?

8. #Hamac

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Of Amerindian origin, this one or two-seater bed goes hand in hand with nights spent in a carbet (don't forget the mosquito net!). In general, once the ideal posture is found - slightly askew to stretch the fabric -, you sleep very well. Handmade and in many colours, this is a good idea to bring back in your luggage

9. #Picolette

While some people walk their dogs, others walk around with one or two small cages in their hands. Birds, for their song or for their adornment, are very much appreciated in French Guiana. Numerous competitions are organised, featuring picolettes, birds renowned for their beauty but also for the variety of their singing.

10. #Ti'punch

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More than a tradition, it is an institution. In most establishments, they will bring you the bottle, the lime and the cane sugar so that you can make your own ti'punch. But be careful! It is not for as much that it is necessary to abuse it... The Belle Cabresse is very well drunk, thus remain on your guard!

11. #Jumps

These rapids mark the way up or down the Guyanese rivers. In the dry season, it is sometimes necessary to get out of the pirogue to cross them. They are often, during expeditions on the rivers, places to stop and set up a bivouac or for a swim. On the creeks, which here designate the rivers, there are no jumps.

12. #Toulou

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The touloulous are the queens of the carnival. The women, in disguise, make themselves unrecognizable: not a square centimetre of skin shows through, so that nothing can remind us who is hiding under the disguise. Throughout the carnival, they invite the men to dance at the balls. Playful, a touloulou never reveals herself.

You are from here, if...

You can watch the almost monthly launch of a rocket from the Place des Amandiers in Cayenne or from Kourou

You go on Sundays to the big market of Cacao to taste a delicious Hmong soup.

You don't get upset when everything is leading you to it. Patience and a smile are your best allies in resolving conflicts.

You participate in the carnival and its preparations in a good-natured atmosphere

You are the first one up and the last one down during the last days of the carnival

You have the art and the way to prepare a strongti'punch when it's the right time. La Belle Cabresse is a close friend of yours

You don't hesitate to add a good spoonful of pepper to your already spicy fish dish

You respect the speed limit even though there is no reason to do so on certain stretches of road

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