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Destination Guide: Cayenne

Cultural diversity, lively markets and prime people-watching
Discover a dash of French flavour stirred into a heady mix of Creole, Maroon, Laotian and more, in French Guiana's culturally diverse capital. Sample spicy local dishes or Asian rice noodles, then take home exotic oddments from Cayenne’s Caribbean-style market.

Food and Drink

Taste the world, from French fare to Vietnamese favourites. Fresh and succulent seafood is best enjoyed at Montjoly beach, or follow your nose down the alleys of the main town, north of Canal Laussat, to find enticing Gallic brasseries, Creole cafés and pho noodle soup bars. The stalls at Cayenne’s Place du Coq market sizzle with eclectic eats.

Sightseeing and relaxation

Colonial charm and spooky specimens. Find Cayenne's French roots around Place Léopold Héder – the city's oldest enclave is home to ramshackle Franco-Caribbean houses, the pastel-yellow Hôtel de Ville and 17th-century Fort Cépérou, with views right over the city. Shady Place des Palmistes is where to watch the world go by, while the Musée Départemental Franconie has a large collection of pickled snakes.

Shopping

Buy indigenous art and curious nibbles. Amble Avenue du Général de Gaulle for Cayenne's upscale boutiques. In the old city, look for cooperatives selling Amerindian handicrafts, where proceeds go directly to locals, and bookshops stocking detailed French Guiana maps – essential for would-be explorers. For unidentifiable edibles, head to Place du Coq market in the morning.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Fine wine and fiestas. Sip vin rouge at a bar on Place des Palmistes, which takes its name from its swathe of exotic palm trees. Live music is almost everywhere and many bars and restaurants host bands playing everything from French ballads to Afrobeat. Visit pre-Lent and join locals for their biggest party of the year - the Cayenne Carnaval.