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Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni: Top 10 Activities to Do

Welcome to Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, a dynamic city located in western French Guiana. Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni is the capital of the western region and the second largest town after Cayenne. The city's history is closely tied to the infamous Camp de la Transportation. The well-preserved buildings offer a striking glimpse into a bygone era. Beyond its penal history, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni is brimming with treasures to discover.

In this article, we invite you to explore the top 10 activities to do in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni.

saint laurent du maroni

The Little Paris of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

1. Discover Petit Paris

Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni was founded on February 21, 1858, by Admiral Auguste-Laurent Baudin, governor of French Guiana. It stands as a unique testimony in France as a penal commune, structured around three distinct districts: the prison district, the colonial district, and the official district, known as "Petit Paris."

  • The prison district : housed essential facilities such as the hospital, the Camp de la Transportation, and the customs post. It was the heart of penal life for those serving their sentences.

  • The colonial district : was intended for freed prisoners and residents.

  • The official district : , nicknamed "Petit Paris," is distinguished by its neat architecture, uniform streets lined with wide red-brick gutters, and high walls. It housed official buildings and government housing, as well as extensive green spaces, rare in the rest of the town.

To explore Petit Paris, visitors can choose from:

  • Self-guided walking or biking tours

  • Thematic guided tours like "In the footsteps of Albert Londres"

The heritage of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni has earned it the label of City of Art and History, captivating visitors from all horizons.

bagne of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

The Transportation Camp in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

2. Visit the Camp de la Transportation

Discover the lives of those transported to Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni. The guided tour is a must-do activity in the city.

Built in 1880, the site feels as if some buildings are still in use, even though the penal colony closed in 1946. During the tour, you'll see the prison quarters, barracks, and cells, feeling the imprint of history with each step. Don't miss Cell 47, which housed the famous prisoner Henri Charrière, known as "Papillon"!

  • Practical Information

    • Duration of the guided tour: 1 hour

    • Reservation and tickets: Purchase tickets at the Tourist Office.

    • Camp Museum: Extend your visit by discovering the camp museum.

    • Rates: Adults €6 / Children €2

    • Opening days:

      • Monday: 3:00 PM and 4:30 PM

      • Tuesday to Saturday: 9:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 4:30 PM

      • Sunday and public holidays: 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM

    Night guided tours are also available. Please inquire at the Tourist Office.

The Maroni River

The Maroni river

3. Navigate the Maroni

The Maroni is the longest river in French Guiana, serving as a natural border between French Guiana and Suriname. It originates in the Tumuc-Humac Mountains in Suriname and becomes the Maroni at Grand-Santi.

Known as the "western highway," the Maroni is the main transportation route for people and goods in the communities along its banks. Due to numerous rapids, transportation is exclusively by canoe.

Navigating the Maroni is an unforgettable experience, offering encounters with local populations and a discovery of the environment and wildlife. Here are some recommended providers for this adventure:

  • BUSHI KAMPOE

    (+594) 694 95 54 63 bushikampoe@gmail.com

  • CHUITY LIBA

    (+594) 694 96 99 81 wayahtours@gmail.com

  • SABI ALIBA

    (+594) 694 95 06 09 www.wesabialiba.overblog.com / sabialiba@gmail.com

You can also rent a single or double kayak from the CCKM association for only €20 per person for a full day to discover the Maroni River

4. Adventure to the Voltaire Falls

The Voltaire Falls, located in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, are a remarkable set of waterfalls in French Guiana. To reach them, you must take the Paul Isnard trail, a 73 km journey that can be challenging in some areas. After this route, a 3 km trail through the Amazon rainforest leads you to the Voltaire Falls—a beautiful reward.

For access to the trail, we strongly recommend using a 4x4.

Nissan - Navara

5. Swimming at Cascade Creek

Looking for a pleasant spot to take a dip ? Refresh yourself at Cascade Creek, also known as Shrimp Creek. This watercourse is unique for its cola-like flow, much like Morpio Creek in Iracoubo. The creek is dotted with small waterfalls and clear, cool pools. Shallow and safe, it's perfect for a family outing.

There's a hut available, but it's advisable to bring your own gear in case it's occupied.The location is easily accessible: from Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, head towards Saint-Jean and continue approximately 15 kilometers towards Apatou. You'll find the entrance on your left just after the Cascade Creek bridge. From there, it's only a 150-meter walk on a dirt path.Enjoy—it's just 15 minutes from Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni !

6. Saint-Jean Forest Trail

The Saint-Jean Forest Trail is a 1.4 km round trip, perfect for a one-hour family walk. Accessible and gently sloped, it offers views of the remains of "Nouvelle Porcherie," built in 1916 as part of the Saint-Jean Penal Colony.

Keep an eye out for monkeys or sloths along the way, and enjoy the rich flora including tree ferns, balisiers, heliconias, philodendrons, and bromeliads.To access the trail, from downtown Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, take the road towards Saint-Jean south. The entrance is on the right just after the intersection with the road to Apatou. Don't miss this natural and historical experience!

7. Saint Laurent du Maroni Market

Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni Market has retained its historic location since the penal colony era, remaining a hub for meetings and exchanges. You'll find a wide selection of local fruits and vegetables, as well as textiles and crafts.

The market is held every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 6 AM to 2 PM at Place Flore Lithaw.Additionally, on the first Thursdays of each month, from 4 PM to 9 PM, in front of the Tourist Office, you can discover 100% local products thanks to the OAT (West Agro-Transformation Association). Don't miss this event! Do you enjoy markets? Don't miss the Cayenne market.

eating in french guiana

Restaurants in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

8. Dining Recommendations

La Maison du Café, for Breakfast

Enjoy a breakfast showcasing Guyanese artisanal products. You can savor a selection of quality coffees and explore a shop to bring back souvenirs from your stay.

Opening hours : Monday to Saturday, 7:30 AM to 2:00 PM Address : 15, Avenue Félix Eboué, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

Chez Jo Burger, for Lunch

Chez Jo Burger is renowned for its excellent burgers, but the star is the glazed pork tacos, a Chinese specialty served in a taco. This dish is particularly appreciated for its exquisite taste that delights the taste buds.

Opening hours: 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM : Monday to Saturday 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM : Tuesday to Saturday

Address : 1 rue Thiers, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

Sucré et Salé, for Snacks

Enjoy delicious sweet and savory crepes for a delightful snack. The recipes are delicious, and you can even create your own crepes. Also, try the bubble tea.

Opening hours: 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM: Monday to Friday 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM: Monday to Saturday

Address : 26 rue Lieutenant Colonel Chandon, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

La Goélette, for Dinner

La Goélette is a unique restaurant set aboard the Golden Harvest sailboat, beached on the Maroni riverbanks. This unusual setting with eclectic décor offers an unforgettable culinary experience. The dishes, such as "never-tasted-before" fillet, loubine wallet, and ceviche, are renowned for their excellence. On Sundays, don't miss the "musical beef" event with tapas until midnight, for a lively and friendly evening. Discover this original venue for a gastronomic and festive experience in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni.

Opening hours : 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM: Tuesday to Saturday 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM: Tuesday to Thursday 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM: Friday 7:00 PM to 12:00 AM: Saturday 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM: Sunday

Address : 26 rue Lieutenant Colonel Chandon, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

9. Visit the Historic Church of Saint-Laurent du Maroni

Pour être sûr de neThe church, located on Avenue du Colonel Chandon, has been classified as a Historic Monument since August 16, 1995. Built in 1889, it is distinguished by its original architecture: a metal structure filled with bricks, resting on a granite base. Unique in French Guiana, it is the only building constructed in this style.

Despite its small size, the church was initially intended to accommodate both the penal and civilian population of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni. However, civilians refused to mix with convicts, leading only female convicts to attend religious services. Thus, the church not only showcases unique architecture but also reflects the region's particular social history.

10. Must-Attend Events

Depending on the timing of your stay in French Guiana, here are some events not to be missed :

  • Les Tréteaux du Maroni : International Festival of Performing Arts, held in April.

  • FIFAC : International Amazonian-Caribbean Film Festival, held in October.

  • Fish Festival in Chinatown : In March, featuring fishing contests, blaff (fish dish), and the "finest glutton" competition.

  • Patron Saint Festival : In August, a religious and festive celebration.

  • Music Festival : On June 21st, where the city resonates with concerts and various musical performances.

  • Carnival in French Guiana : Starts in January and extends until February or March, a colorful and festive event.

To ensure you don't miss anything, follow the city's social media and stay updated on upcoming news and events.

Whether you're passionate about history, a nature lover, or seeking adventure, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni offers fascinating discoveries. Don't forget to visit Mana, Apatou, and Grand-Santi, nearby municipalities that will enrich your experience.

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