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Traveling to France Overseas (France d’Outre Mer) will make a fantastic holiday, especially when the cold winter temperatures hit Europe. Besides the pleasant weather, French Overseas territories have all the convenience and level of service of France and local cultures that will feel like you are not in France at all!
France Overseas Territories, also known as Dom Tom, are 13 territories outside the European continent administered by mainland France. French Dom Toms are mostly the remains of the French colonial empire that chose to remain a part of the French state under various statuses after decolonization.
Overseas France includes island territories in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, French Guiana on the South American continent, and several peri-Antarctic islands, as well as a claim in Antarctica.
Outside Europe, four broad classes of French territories currently exist:
- Overseas Regions and Departments: regions with the same status as mainland France, meaning French laws and regulations apply here.
- Overseas Collectivities: territories that can make their laws, except in certain areas.
- Sui Generis Collectivity: it’s a special status for New Caledonia, and a gradual transfer of power from the French state to New Caledonia was begun, lasting from 15 to 20 years. A New Caledonian citizenship was established, kept in parallel to the French one.
- Uninhabited Territories: The French Southern and Antarctic Lands and Clipperton Island (an uninhabited coral atoll off the coast of Mexico).
France Overseas Territories – Where to Go
True paradises for their pristine nature, with this Dom Tom guide, we propose to you the best places in French Overseas territories that you can visit to have the best vacation ever!
French Guyana is located in the northeastern part of South America, and it borders Brazil and Suriname. The capital is Cayenne. Besides the mainland, French Guyana has several small islands, including Devil’s Island.
French Guyana is the ideal destination for nature lovers. This French Overseas territory is mainly covered by a dense equatorial forest which, along with the presence of extraordinary animals, is the main reason you should consider visiting it.
The main international airport is Cayenne-Félix Eboué Airport (CAY), which is 13 km from the capital. The three airlines that operate in the airport are Air France, Air Caraïbes, and Air Guyane.
Public transportation is limited in French Guyana, although public buses are available. Taxis are the best way to get around.
Guadeloupe is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea and is part of the Lesser Antilles. The territory of Guadeloupe consists of six inhabited islands: Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Désirade, and the two inhabited Iles des Saintes.
Guadeloupe is the perfect destination for nature lovers. The archipelago has incredible beaches, mangrove forests, coral reefs, and beautiful lagoons. If you enjoy hiking, visit the volcanic park La Soufrière, which marks the highest point in the Eastern Caribbean islands.
Guadaloupe is also heaven for water sports lovers! In Guadalupe, you will find plenty of water activities, from sailing to diving.
Trying creole cuisine and the local rum are other fantastic reasons to visit Guadeloupe. Rum is Guadaloupe’s most famous product. You will find distilleries everywhere around the island, and visiting one is a must!
Guadeloupe Islands’ international airport is Pointe-a-Pitre International Airport (PTP) on the island of Grande-Terre. All regular flights from Europe depart from France and are operated by Air France, Air Caraïbes, and Corsair International.
To get around Guadeloupe Islands, rent a car. If you plan to island-hop, you will need to catch one of the many available ferries.
TIP: Guadeloupe vs Martinique, where to go? Check out this guide to help you decide!
Martinique is part of the Lesser Antilles, in the Caribbean Sea. Fort-de-France is the capital city of Martinique, and it is also one of the major cities in the Caribbean.
Martinique is the perfect French Caribbean island for a beach holiday, with crystal-clear waters. The beaches in Martinique are all unique, from white-sandy beaches to black-sandy beaches of volcanic origin, and you will find many uncrowded beaches where you can sit back and relax. If you love to snorkel and dive, the seas around Martinique are brimming with tropical marine life for you to discover!
The island of Martinique also has an interesting heritage, mainly from colonial times. The best place to start discovering the island’s rich history is Fort-de-France, with its museums, squares, and monuments dedicated to Victor Schoelcher, who had a leading role in abolishing slavery in the French colonies.
Martinique is known around the world for its rum. One of the top activities on the island is exploring the distilleries where the liquor is made. Some of them have beautiful buildings dating from colonial times.
In the city of Fort-de-France, you will find the Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport (FDF). Among the various airlines that fly into the airport, there are Air France, Air Antilles, and Air Caraïbes.
Renting a car is the best way to get around while in Martinique.
Mayotte is located in the Indian Ocean, in the northern part of the Mozambique Channel. This French Overseas Territory has two main islands, Grande-Terre and the smaller Petite-Terre. Mamoudzou is Mayotte’s capital and is located on Grande-Terre.
Mayotte Island is a true natural paradise! The island is a haven for flora and fauna, but its greatest asset is its coral reef which borders one of the largest enclosed lagoons in the world. Mayotte is also one of the best places for whale watching.
Mayotte’s only airport is Dzaoudzi–Pamandzi International Airport (DZA), located in the city of Dzaoudzi. The airport is served by Corsair International, Kenya Airways, and Air Austral.
The easiest way to get around Mayotte is by local buses, called by the locals taxi-brousses.
French Polynesia territory comprises 121 islands and atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. The islands in French Polynesia are divided into five groups: the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Austral Islands, and the Society Islands archipelago, which comprise the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands.
The capital of French Polynesia is Papeete, located in Tahiti. The currency used in French Polynesia is the CFP franc.
With an incredibly diverse marine life and some of the world’s best diving spots, French Polynesia is a paradise for everyone who enjoys water activities. Snorkel, dive, or hop on a stand-up paddleboard to explore the fish-filled lagoons. Surfing in Tahiti is also world-famous, and the city will host all the surfing competitions in the 2024 Summer Olympics.
French Polynesia is home to some of the world’s most spectacular and exclusive resorts, which, paired with the incredible natural landscape and golden sunsets, make it the perfect destination for a romantic or honeymoon vacation.
A must while visiting French Polynesia is to explore local cultures and traditions. While Polynesian traditions have been repressed during colonization, Polynesian people are working hard to bring their traditional culture back to life. Today, you can visit the Tahitian marae, an ancient space for prayer, and participate in local festivals celebrating the Polynesian heritage through songs and dances.
The main airport of the French Polynesian islands is Faa’a International Airport (PPT), also known as Tahiti International Airport, 5 km from Papeete. You fly into the airport with Air France, Air Tahiti, and Air Tahiti Nui.
Several airlines offer regular transfers from one of the French Polynesia islands to the other. You can also purchase an island-hopping air pass if you plan to visit multiple islands. Island hopping by boat is the other option. Depending on the islands, services vary: the sea link between Bora Bora and Moorea is the most frequent one.
Réunion is an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Saint-Denis is the city capital, close to the mouth of the Rivière Saint-Denis.
If we can give you one good reason to visit Réunion, that is the island’s scenic hiking trails! The Réunion National Park makes up 42 percent of the Réunion’s landmass, and on the island, there is 890 km of hiking trails that will take you past waterfalls and canyons, up volcano walls, and through lush forests. Whatever your ability, there will be multiple hiking trails for you to explore!
Besides hiking and trekking, you can enjoy many other outdoor activities in Réunion. Rafting, canyoning, tree climbing, and diving are just some ways to spend your holidays in Réunion. Make sure to join a tour to explore the island’s volcanoes from the inside: walking through the lava tunnels will be the highlight of your vacation in Réunion!
Réunion is a great place to visit if you are a foodie! The French cuisine installed on the island during the colonial period has been preserved by the locals, who have also assimilated culinary techniques from India, Sri Lanka, China, and mainland Africa. The result is a local cuisine full of unique flavors and dishes. Another local product you should try is rum.
Réunion’s airport is Roland Garros Airport (RUN), located in Sainte-Marie, close to the capital. Air France, Corsair International, and Air Austral are the three airlines that fly here.
There are many ways to get around Réunion: shuttle services, public buses, and taxis are available across the island. However, we recommend renting a car to get the most out of the island and its natural wonders.
New Caledonia is another of the French Overseas islands located in the Pacific Ocean, south of Vanuatu. The archipelago includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belap archipelago, and the Isle of Pines.
Nouméa is the capital city of New Caledonia, and The CFP franc is the archipelago’s currency.
New Caledonia offers a unique cultural experience, thanks to the varied local traditions, such as Kanaks, Caledonians, and French. In New Caledonia, there are many museums you can explore to discover everything about the local heritage. Another great way to do it is by visiting cultural festivals, where the locals celebrate their traditions with music, dances, and various art forms.
New Caledonia is also a great place for enjoying water sports. In New Caledonia, you can swim in the world’s largest enclosed lagoon, which has amazingly diverse endemic fauna and flora. Another fantastic activity in New Caledonia is windsurfing, which is particularly fun in Anse Vata, the windiest seashore in New Caledonia. If you prefer something more relaxed, take a boat or kayak trip.
The main New Caledonian airport is La Tontouta International Airport (NOU), located 52 km from Nouméa. The airlines that travel here are Qantas, Air Vanuatu, Aircalin, and Air New Zealand.
The easiest way to travel around New Caledonia is by car. However, you can also travel on public buses on the bigger islands. To get around New Caledonian islands, you can opt for many different transfers: water taxis, high-speed catamarans, and private boats.
Saint Barthélemy, also called St. Barts, is one of the best French Caribbean islands to visit. The capital is Gustavia, and the culture and language on the island are distinctly French.
The island is a popular tourist destination during the winter holiday season, where the mix of European influence and Caribbean flare is filled with luxury tourism. St. Barts is a popular destination among the rich and famous, and it’s the perfect spot if you want to treat yourself to a 5-star holiday!
The Rémy de Haenen Airport (SBH), also called Saint Barthélemy Airport, is located in the village of St. Jean. Air Antilles and Tradewind Aviation are among the airlines that operate in the airport.
There is no public transport service in St. Barts, so a car is essential to explore the island. However, you can always use taxis.
Saint Martin is one of the French-speaking Caribbean islands worth considering for a winter getaway. Located in the Caribbean Sea, approximately 300 km east of Puerto Rico, Saint Martin is on the French side of the Leeward Islands; the other side, St. Maarten, is part of the Netherlands. The capital of Saint Martin is Marigot.
With a distinct French-Caribbean vibe, Saint Martin is known for its fashion and high-end restaurants and markets, so it’s the perfect place to travel to if you are looking for a tropical luxury vacation.
Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) is the main airport, but it is located on the Dutch side of the island. You can take Air France, Caribbean Airlines, and KLM to travel there. If you are traveling to Saint Martin from Guadeloupe, Martinique, or Saint Barthélemy, you will fly into Grand Case-Espérance Airport (SFG), which is located on the island’s French side.
The best way to get around Saint Martin is by public bus, which connects all the main parts of the island.
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna is a collection of three islands and various tiny islets located in the South Pacific, close to Fiji and Samoa. Mata Utu is the capital city, and the local currency is the CFP franc.
Wallis and Futuna are unspoiled by mass tourism, and they are both dream playgrounds for those who love watersports and are looking for an unforgettable beach vacation. The beaches at Wallis and Futuna are incredible, with pristine white sand and deep turquoise waters. Open-water swimming and snorkeling are among the top activities to do.
In Wallis and Futuna, you will experience nature at its very best. The enchanting landscapes contain amazing lake craters, waterfalls, and forests with the most diverse fauna and colorful tropical flowers.
Wallis and Futuna have an incredible reach cultural heritage. Various festivals are celebrated throughout the year, which includes music, canoe races, dance performances, and sword dancing, to which the locals invite visitors. Wallis and Futuna conserve an authentic Polynesian culture, and the locals have managed to keep their culture alive despite all the upheavals of history.
Hihifo Airport (WLS) is 5.6 km from the capital city, and the only airline that flies here is Aircalin. Renting a car or going around on foot is your only option, given that there is no public transport service and no taxis on Wallis or Futuna.