< ">Modern French Guiana is a land of idiosyncrasies, where European Space Agency satellite launches rattle the market gardens of displaced Hmong farmers from Laos and thinly populated rainforests swallow nearly all but the country’s coastline. Highly subsidized by Mother France, it boasts the highest standard of living of any ‘country’ in South America, but look beyond the capital city and you’ll still find backwoods settlements of Maroons and Amerindians barely eking out a living.
Best time to visit
July to December, or in late February for Carnaval
French Guiana’s rain forest is 90% intake; Plage Les Hattes contains the highest density of leatherback-turtle nesting sites in the world
Cayenne is one of the loveliest capital cities in South America. ln lieu of soaring grandeur and modern urban vibrancy are bustling, colourful markets amid charming French colonial buildings ribbed with flowered balconies. The excellent Creole and Guianese food and the unique ethnic mix-locals, French expatriates, Brazilian fisherfolk, Surinamese Maroons and Hmong farmers-make this a fun place to spend a few days and eat, eat, while planning trips to the lush interior or along the populated coast.