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Spiritourism at Habitation ClémentVisit of the Remarkable garden

Visit Habitation Clément

Habitation Clément is part of Martinique’s historical, industrial and cultural heritage.

It’s one of the most visited sites in Martinique, with over 200,000 visitors a year. For me, it’s a must-see! A brand-new boutique, a rum tasting area and a Sensory workshop have just been inaugurated, and as it’s been some time since I visited the estate, it’s a good opportunity to go back!

I prepare my visit!

Today, I’m off with some friends who are on vacation, so we decide to download the specially dedicated “Habitation Clément” app before we go. Packed with useful info and explanations, it includes access to audioguides and the interactive map of the estate. And off we go to Le François!

Access to the estate is via a large coconut tree-lined driveway. The parking lot is on the left, just beside a picnic area. We head straight to reception, where the hostess greets us with a lovely smile. She asks us if we’d rather go to the boutique, go to the exhibition room of the Fondation Clément or take the full tour of the site.

Count 1h30 to 2h for the full tour!

We decide to take the long route, starting with the gardens, we’ll finish with the boutique and the sensory workshop… The visit is free, but the interactive map and audioguides will give us a better grasp of the different worlds of the entire estate. Just click on the number and you’ll get audio and info sheets, it’s super well done!

The remarkable gardens of Habitation Clément

Just over the small bridge spanning the ravine, we enter the park, created in the 1990’s on the industrial wasteland of the former distillery. The ponds have replaced the former settling basins for the vinasses produced by distillation.

The park, which was awarded the French “Jardin remarquable” label in 2015, is grandiose, and we admire this collection of 300 trees and plants planted as early as 1992, originating from different tropical regions of the world. Royal palm trees, eleta palm trees: their size is impressive, it’s the magic of Martinique hot and humid climate!

More than a dozen monumental artists’ pieces are scattered among the vegetation, the “sculpture garden” is like an open-air museum!

The map indicates that this is optional, but a word of advice: don’t hesitate to climb up to the old cattle mill. Very well restored, surrounded by a Creole orchard, the view over the park and the palm grove from there is one of the most beautiful on the site!

Industrial facilities

On the way back down, we walk down an alley lined with sugar cane that makes the link between the botanical and industrial worlds. Since its takeover by GBH in the 1980’s, Clément rums are no longer distilled on the site, but the space occupied by the old facilities is devoted to explanations of how rum is made, with all the stages involved in transforming the cane.

Make sure you take the time to listen to the audios, it’s fascinating and we come away from here far more knowledgeable than when we arrived!!

The cellars and the Machine garden

To reach the house, we walk along the different cellars named after the Clément heirs. The open doors of these beautiful cellars offer us a view of the barrels perfectly aligned. The tuns in the Charles Clément cellar are truly impressive! This is where the magic of the cellar master will take place, the storage, the blending, the aging of the old rums.

I love the smell that emanates from the barrels, the famous “angels’ share“, which corresponds to the natural evaporation of the rum!

Before heading to the big house, we enter the old distillery, where the machinery on display reminds us of its former production capacity. There’s plenty of machinery outside too: steam winch, gears, rolls, locotractor

The master's house

When the site opened to the public in 1988, it was the main attraction of the Habitation Clément. I’m delighted to rediscover the skilfully maintained and restored beauty of the maison de maître, a remarkable example of the Creole wooden house on a masonry base, the walls covered in wapa essentes, the scaly tiles of the Trois Ilets Pottery.

With its ventilated galleries, its louvers providing natural ventilation, its imposing dining room, its period furniture in mahogany, its collection of caned armchairs, we take a leap into the past and into history! We’re out of this world…

Historical anecdotes, the kiosk from the 1991 Mitterand-Bush summit, the stable, the outdoor kitchen: everything is beautifully restored. In fact, the house is listed as a “Monument historique”.

The former carriage garage has become the Case à Léo which the Fondation Clément uses for its cultural events and temporary exhibitions.

The gentle breeze from the trade winds makes for a pleasant visit, we’re just fine…

Fondation Clément Museum

The contemporary art center

On leaving the house, we take the opportunity to enjoy the sublime view and head for the small kiosk before reaching the contemporary art building. Spread over two floors, this space hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions by artists with links to the Caribbean.

Clément Rums

Discovery and tasting

The Sensory Workshop

And now we can’t wait to get to the new reception area! Nearly a year in the making and frankly worth the wait, it’s so beautiful! A mix of stone, wood, copper, subtle lighting, both designer and warm. The “Atelier des Sens” (sensory workshop) allows us to discover the different aromas recognized by the AOC, to learn to recognize olfactory nuances, the color of dresses, it’s both very interesting and fun. Bravo!”

The staircase leading down to the boutique, with its monumental mirrored display case filled with bottles of old rums, is well worth the detour!

The Shop

We stop off at the new counter – a spectacular seven-meter bar in copper and enameled lava – for a little tasting! The hostess advises us and explains the vintages. The vintages are all different: VO, XO, VSOP, hors d’âge, white rums, it’s very interesting… So let’s taste: for me it will be a Canne Bleue and a Clément XO!

In the beautiful boutique (100 m², completely redesigned!), you’ll find, in addition to rums, products made by local artisans – jams, preserves, liqueurs, scents – and a small bookshop. I snapped up a beautiful book, some lovely postcards of the House and an Elot chocolate bar for the kids. The morning ends on a high note!!!

Events at Habitation Clément

Throughout the year, the Habitation Clément organizes guided tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays, botanical tours accompanied by Nicolas Pierrel (landscape gardener, historian and heritage specialist), storytelling tours allowing a journey into children’s imaginations, as well as floral art workshops. Find all the dates on the calendar.

I loved:

– The serene and relaxing atmosphere of the gardens with their majestic trees.

– The visit to the furnished house, a magnificent example of old-style Creole architecture.

– The immersion in the cellars with that smell of rum given off by the angels’ share.

– The new sensory space, sublime, with explanations from the cellar master and initiation to the different aromas.

– The tasting of course!

Go ahead from us!

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