Cayenne, capital city of French Guiana
Cayenne represents the crossroads of Europe, the Caribbean and South America. The city of variegated cultures is home to vibrant markets, Creole, Brazilian, Chinese and French restaurants and streets lined with colonial homes painted in topical shades of turquoise, pinks and yellows. Pleasing to all the senses, the capital of French Guiana is wonderfully quaint, welcoming and truly enticing.
The main market is a lively jumble of African-style paintings, Hmong handicrafts, exotic fruits and spices galore. The air is thick with the scent of saffron, and the giant piles of colorful cardamom, annatto seeds, kalonji and fenugreek are positively tantalizing. Inside, you can find the best Vietnamese pho in all of the Guianas and feast on bouillon d’aoura, a local specialty that combines delectable prawns, smoked fish, vegetables, crab and chicken with sweet aurora fruit plucked from the savanna trees found throughout the island.
An hour’s drive from Cayenne will take you to another one of the country’s best markets. In the village of Cacao, the Sunday market springs up as the sun rises, offering a smorgasbord of treats made by the Hmong people. The refugees fled Laos in the 1970s and created a peaceful, safe haven in Cacao, now a favorite day trip from Cayenne for locals. Marked by sparkling clear rivers, stilted wooden houses and sprawling vegetable plantations, the village is a quiet escape from the more lively atmosphere in the capital.
There are a handful of museums in the city, and the Musée des Cultures Guyanaises is one of the best. Devoted to the islands’ early history, the museum’s large collection details its geologic formation before delving into the Amerindian, pre-colonial era. The air-conditioned galleries offer respite from the humid heat, and the exhibits give visitors a solid foundation for better understanding the Musée Départemental. The centrally-located museum includes a small collection of Amerindian handicrafts, and the upper gallery recaptures colonial life, but the exhibits are less well-marked than those at the Musée des Cultures Guyanaises. The Musée Départemental also includes a fascinating ethnobotanical display, a colorful butterfly room and a large collection of other preserved local critters.
An abundance of tropical plants thrives at the Botanical Gardens. Established in 1879, the gardens are lush with many of the 151 plants that are endemic to French Guiana, including leafy mahot trees, lemon-yellow orchids and spiky bromeliads.
Cayenne is a great jumping-off point for discovering more of French Guiana’s natural wonders. River tours embark regularly from the capital, taking visitors through the equatorial forest’s heart through a natural route. The immense and awe-inspiring rainforest offers plenty of opportunities for adventure including hiking, zip-lining and caving. The dugout canoes made from local timber transport visitors to a kingdom where plants and animals reign and they often stop at villages along the rivers. There, visitors catch a glimpse of the age-old traditions kept alive by French Guiana’s Maroon and Amerindian cultures. The unique adventure is one of the best ways to explore the country while getting in touch with nature.
Cayenne Geographical Location
The population of Cayenne is approximately 64,500.
French is the official language of French Guiana but there are many other regional languages spoken throughout.
Cayenne Predominant Religion
The predominant religion in French Guiana is Roman Catholic mainly due to the influence of missionaries.
The Euro is the official currency of French Guiana.
Cayenne has a tropical monsoon climate in which it rains heavily throughout the majority of the year. The temperature doesn’t fluctuate greatly between seasons and it is usually hot all year round.
Cayenne Main Attractions
- Fort Cépérou
- Place Grenoble
- Musée Départmental
Other Attractions in Cayenne
- Botanical Gardens
- Museum of Guyanese Cultures
- Félix Eboué Museum
- Place des Palmistes