Cayenne Tourist Attractions
Cayenne is one of South America's most pleasant capitals. It has a relaxed tropical ambiance and its French-colonial buildings lend it the atmosphere of the French Quarter of New Orleans. Cayenne is the administrative and commercial center of French Guiana and is home to 40,000 inhabitants. As well as interesting architecture, the city offers shopping, small museums, a 17th C fort and a traditional market full of exotic aromas.Cayenne is located at the western end of a small, hilly peninsula between the Cayenne and Mahury rivers on the Atlantic coast. The French established their first settlement here after acquiring land from the Amerindian Chief Cépérou in 1643. The city is named Cayenne after another chief of the period. Cayenne's harbor is too shallow for large ships. Larger ships dock at nearby Degrad des Cannes. Cayenne is served by the Rochambeau airport.
Cayenne is one of the best places in French Guiana to experience the festive Carnaval which features Caribbean-style parades infused with a French flavor. Usually held in late February, Carnaval features festivities every weekend from Epiphany and for four days solid before Ash Wednesday.
Views of Cayenne, its port and the Cayenne River are seen from the 17th C fort.The Fort was built in 1643 and named for an Amerindian Chief who originally occupied the site.This fortification was designed to monitor the entrance to Cayenne's natural harbor.
Built in 1833, this church became a cathedral in 1934. During renovation in 1952 workmen found a case in the cornerstone containing coins and seals.The cathedral contains a clock dated 1871 and in 1992 the roof partially collapsed causing serious flood-damage to the organ.
Mainly Indonesian food stalls are found in the deceptively named market of Village Chinois (Chinatown). Nicknamed "Chicago", some of Cayenne's best music and nightlife are found in small clubs in the area.
Musée Départemental De Franconie
Interesting exhibits about indigenous peoples, colonial history and the penal colony are displayed in this simple wooden building erected in the 19th C by the Franconie family. Of note are the large stuffed black-caiman and the Butterfly Room.
Avenue du Général de Gaulle
Avenue du Général de Gaulle is the main commercial street where Cayenne's hotels are located.
Félix Eboué Museum
The Canal Laussat constructed in 1777 runs through mid-Cayenne and is bordered by a fish market.
Place Léopold Héder
Several of Cayenne's historic buildings are clustered around Place Léopold Héder, including the old whitewashed Governor's mansion and post office.
The unveiling of this fountain in 1867 marked the arrival of drinking water in Cayenne. The water harnessed from the Rorota lakes supplies the city through four fountains: the Dumez Fountain, the Merlet Fountain, the fountain which is still on the corner of boulevard Jubelin and avenue de Gaulle, and the Montravel fountain.
This former Jesuit monastery built in 1749 represents Cayenne's heritage. From 1800, the building housed an assortment of government offices. The gallery of columns decorating the façade was added in 1925.
Old Powder Magazine
One of the few vestiges of Cayenne's 18th C fortifications, the old powder magazine occupies the center of the royal bastion. A few remains of the walls can still be seen.
Cayenne Department Archives
The wooden-structure shelters the records and archives of the region.
Place Victor Schoelcher
Cayenne's main vegetable market is named after the man responsible for ending slavery in French Guiana. A statue of Schoelcher unveiled in 1897 can be seen.
Place de Palmistes
Cayenne's liveliest area is the Place de Palmistes where many cafes and outdoor food stalls surround a square in which a statue of Félix Eboué is centered.
The first Town hall of Cayenne was housed in a mansion belonging to a rich colonist who covered his floors with gold coins. The present Mairie was built in 1924
In the center of the city of Cayenne are the Botanical Gardens.