Reserve at least a week in advance to nab a poolside table at Le Zandoli, where stylish locals go for inventive French-Caribbean fare by chef Benoît Dang, who trained in three Michelin-starred restaurants in France before coming to Martinique. Order a glass of lightly chilled red from the mostly French wine list, and enjoy the three-course tasting menu ($57), which changes daily but might include melon gazpacho or a delectable passion-fruit flan.
Take a quick dip in the Caribbean between lunch courses at Le Petibonum, a local institution in Le Carbet. Beachgoers come here for French-Creole fare like pan-seared marlin with mango sauce ($21), duck breast with local citrus ($26), and fried whole prawns with spicy green chiles ($16), not to mention punches made with local rum. Afterward, head a few blocks north and join the line of locals waiting patiently outside of Ziouka Glaces, an unassuming storefront serving hand-spun ice creams ($7 for three scoops) in seasonal flavors like guava and cinnamon.
Ring a doorbell to gain entry to La Cave à Vins (124 rue Victor Hugo; 596-596-70-3302), an intimate, two-room French restaurant hidden within a wine shop in Fort-de-France’s commercial district. Pass through the bottles of Bordeaux and Lillet in the retail space until you reach the dining area, which has tropical plants, oversize murals of French vineyards and a large, domed skylight. The best dishes blend classic French cooking with local ingredients, as in chicken breast stuffed with conch and foie gras, or crème brûlée spiked with shrubb, the Martinican orange liqueur (dinner from $55).