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Ewa Machnik

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Cayenne capital

A typical creole town and home to around half the population of French Guiana, some 50,000 people, Cayenne is the administrative and commercial centre of the country.

European Space Centre at Kourou

Built in 1965 as a space port for the Ariane and Soyuz satellites, this vast site now also features a space museum and visitors can view the launch pads. Satellite launch schedules are a closely guarded secret, but viewing tickets may be obtainable locally should a visit happen to coincide with a launch.

Boat trip to Iles du Salut

These three islands lie 7kms off the coast of Kourou. Take a catamaran trip to Ile Saint Joseph and Ile Royal to explore the atmospheric and overgrown ruined buildings of this historic penal colony, where many political prisoners were incarcerated. Enjoy lunch with views of Devils Island (inaccessible to visitors due to its dangerous coastline), made famous in ‘Papillon’ the semi-autobiographical novel by Henri Charriere, and whose most famous prisoner was Alfred Dreyfus.


This small farming community in the jungle to south of Cayenne was founded by H’mong immigrants from Laos. There is an interesting Sunday market selling traditional local produce and handicrafts, while visits can also be made to explore the settlement and local plantations.

Slave camp of St Laurent du Maroni

St Laurent du Maroni on the Maroni River is home to a sobering memorial, the well-preserved ruins of the slave transportation centre, which served as a transit point for newly arrived slaves destined for plantations in Caribbean and South America. Nearby is the coastal town of Awala Yalimapo home to the Kali’na indigenous people and an important sea turtle nesting site (March - August).

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