Banks -- Most of the banks of Martinique maintain the following hours: Monday to Friday 7:30am to noon and 2:30 to 4pm. A few of them have opted to close on Wednesday afternoon. Others maintain a policy of remaining closed all day Monday, but opening their doors every Saturday morning between 7:30am and noon. There are about a dozen ATMs in Fort-de-France, at least three at Lamentin Airport, and a scattering of others throughout the island, usually in such touristed areas as Pointe du Bout, Le Diamant, and Ste-Anne.

Currency -- Because Martinique falls under the same monetary system as mainland France, the island uses the euro (€) as its mode of exchange. The rate of exchange at press time was 1€ to US$1.42. Change Caraïbes maintains full-service foreign currency divisions, as well as ATMs, at both Lamentin Airport (tel. 596/42-17-11) and 4 rue Ernest Deproge, in the center of Fort-de-France (tel. 596/60-28-40). Banks give better exchange rates than hotels. Prices in this guide are quoted in euros.

Customs -- Items for personal use, such as tobacco, cameras, and film, are admitted without formalities or tax if not in excessive quantity.

Documents -- U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. A return or ongoing ticket is also necessary. British citizens need only an identity card.

Electricity -- Electricity is 220-volt AC (50 cycles), the same as that used on the French mainland. However, check with your hotel to see if it has converted the electrical voltage and outlets in the bathrooms (some have). If it hasn't, bring your own transformer and adapter for U.S. appliances.

Emergencies -- Call the police at tel. 17, report a fire by dialing tel. 18, and summon an ambulance at tel. 17 or 18.

Hospitals -- There are about 18 hospitals and clinics on the island, and there's a 24-hour emergency room at the island's largest, Hôpital Pierre Zobda-Quitman, Cháteauboeuf, 5km (3 miles) south from Fort-de-France (tel. 596/55-20-00), on the road to Lamentin Airport.

Information -- The Tourist Office of Fort-de-France is at 76 rue Lazare Carnot in Fort-de-France (tel. 596/60-27-73;

Language -- French, the official language, is spoken by almost everyone. The local Creole patois uses words borrowed from France, England, Spain, and Africa. In the wake of increased tourism, English is occasionally spoken in the major hotels, restaurants, and tourist organizations -- but don't count on driving around the countryside and asking for directions in English.

Liquor Laws -- Liquor is sold in grocery and liquor stores on any day of the week. It's legal to have an open container in public, though the authorities will be very strict with any littering, disorderly behavior, or drunk driving.

Pharmacies -- Try the Pharmacie de la Paix, at the corner of rue Perrinon and rue Victor-Schoelcher in Fort-de-France (tel. 596/71-94-83), open Monday to Friday from 7:15am to 6:15pm and on Saturday from 7:45am to 1pm.

Safety -- Crime is hardly rampant on Martinique, yet there are still those who prey on unsuspecting tourists. Follow the usual precautions, especially in Fort-de-France and in the tourist-hotel belt of Pointe du Bout. It's wise to protect your valuables and never leave them unguarded on the beach.

Taxes & Service Charges -- Most hotels include a 10% service charge in the bill; all restaurants include a 15% service charge. Also added onto your hotel bill is a resort tax known locally as une taxe hotelière, which ranges from 1.50€ to 2€ per person per night, depending on the hotel's rating and category.

Telephone -- To call Martinique from the United States, dial 011 (the international access code), then 596 (the country code for Martinique), and then, if it's a conventional (that is, noncellular) phone, dial 596 again, followed by the six-digit local number. If the number you're calling is a cellphone, dial 011, followed by 596, followed by 696, followed by the six-digit local number. To call the United States from Martinique, dial 19-1, then the area code, then the seven-digit local number. To make a call within Martinique, dial 0596 followed by the six-digit local number.

Time -- Martinique is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round, 1 hour earlier than Eastern Standard Time except when daylight saving time is in effect in the U.S. -- then Martinique time is the same as on the East Coast of the United States.

Tipping -- Restaurants generally add a 15% service charge to all bills, which you can supplement if you think the service is outstanding. Some hotels also add a 10% service charge to your bill. Tip taxi drivers at least 15% of the fare.

Water -- The water is safe to drink throughout the island, but most residents stick to bottled water anyway.

Weather -- The climate is relatively mild -- the average temperature is in the range of 75°F to 85°F (24°C-29°C).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.