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What you need to know about Cayenne

Cayenne represents the crossroads of Europe, the Caribbean and South America. The city of variegated cultures is home to vibrant markets, Creole, Brazilian, Chinese and French restaurants and streets lined with colonial homes painted in topical shades of turquoise, pinks and yellows. Pleasing to all the senses, the capital of French Guiana is wonderfully quaint, welcoming and truly enticing.

Cayenne is very ethnically diverse, with populations of Creole, Haitian, Brazilian, European, and Hmong and other Asian origins. It is famous for its annual carnival which starts with the arrival of Vaval (the Carnival King) on the first Sunday after New Year’s Day and continues with very popular all-night costume balls and Sunday afternoon parades every weekend until Mardi Gras. Carnaval dances include mazurka, biguine and piké djouk. It is the role of the Touloulou (disguised women) to invite men to dance; the men do not have the right to refuse her. Only Touloulou have the right to dance, non-disguised women may not dance.

There is a large dance scene including both lessons and social dancing. Cafe de la Gare and Domino offer a variety of opportunities including bachata, salsa, merengue, kizomba, zouk, and forro. There are occasionally outdoor socials nears the Place de Chaînes Brisées. Capoeira is also popular and is offered in multiple styles by groups such as ENERGIA PURA.

Area: 9.112 mi²
Population: ‎55,198 (2012)

Currency

  • The Euro is the official currency of French Guiana.

    You may exchange your money for the Euro at most Cayenne banks or at specialized stores called Foreign Exchange Bureaus. Look for signs that say Bureau De Change, Geld Wechseln or Cambio. You may be able to exchange your money at the Cayenne airport, but exchange rates may not be the best. You should consider purchasing the Euro currency at a more favorable exchange rate before you arrive in Cayenne. You can do that by researching online currency brokers that do foreign exchange. If on holiday, vacation, or business you can also inquire about purchasing travellers checks (Travellers Cheques). Also, before your trip, consult with your credit or debit card bank about the foreign exchange transaction fees charged for using your card in Cayenne, Fr. Guiana.

Weather

Cayenne has a tropical monsoon climate in which it rains heavily throughout the majority of the year. The temperature doesn’t fluctuate greatly between seasons and it is usually hot all year round.
With a relatively dry and slightly warmer season from July to November, and a rainy season from December to June.
The temperatures are high all year round: lows are always above 20 °C (68 °F), while highs in Cayenne range from 29 °C (84 °F) from January to May, to 32 °C (90 °F) in September and October, which are the hottest months, because they are the driest and sunniest. However, at this time the humidity is a bit less high, around 65% during the warmest hours, while in the rest of the year it exceeds 70%. In the hottest days, however, the temperature can reach 37/40 °C (99/104 °F), from May to November.

Language

French is the official language of French Guiana and is spoken by the majority of the population of the country. The language is used in government administration, imparting education in schools, and universities, and is also the language used by the media.

The important position of French in this South American nation is attributed to the political and historical influence of the French in French Guiana. The country was discovered in 1496 by the Spanish who displaced the indigenous inhabitants and took control of the region. Later, the French arrived in French Guiana. Power shifts between the French, the Dutch, and other European nations took place in French Guiana. Ultimately, it was confirmed to be a French territory in 1817 and in 1946 was formally designated as a French Overseas Department. Thus, the long years of French control of French Guiana displaced the indigenous languages of the region, and the French language became the official language of French Guiana.

The regional languages spoken in French Guiana include both the native languages in the country as well as variants of the French language. Six Amerindian languages, four Maroon Creole languages, the Hmong Njua, and French Guianese Creole are the regional languages of French Guiana.

Health and security

  • France is responsible for general public health, but the competencies specifically pertaining to health are divided between the State level and the local administrative units, which draw up and implement local health policies, undertake health surveillance, and participate in policy development for public and private hospitals, human resources development, and the organisation of networks of health professionals.

    The health system in French Guiana is based on the public and private hospital sector; urban medicine; health centres; and disease prevention and vaccination centres. There are three public hospitals in French Guiana and three small private clinics. There are also 21 centres and health posts.

    There are also specialised disease prevention centres in Cayenne and three entities specialised in drug addiction care. Drugs are imported (by sea due to high airfreight costs) mostly from continental France. In an emergency, they can be supplied by Martinique or Guadeloupe. There is no local reagents distributor. Problems of transport generally hamper the distribution of drugs and biomedical products.

    Some medical specialities are not sufficiently represented, like psychiatry, infectious diseases or diabetes care, or not sufficiently organised, like perinatology. Some specialities, like heart surgery, neurosurgery and paediatric surgery, are not represented.

    The private sector is concentrated fundamentally in coastal cities. A nursing school that operates in Cayenne prepares and certifies some 20 nursing professionals a year, an insufficient number. Financial difficulties prevent compliance with the requirement to provide continuous training for paramedical staff.

  • Larger towns warrant caution at night. Crime and drug trafficking have increased throughout the country in recent years, and you’ll often find customs roadblocks on coastal routes. Both locals and foreigners may be searched.Locals hitchhike around Cayenne.

DON’T

  • Travelers to Central and South America and the Caribbean need to protect themselves against mosquito-transmitted viruses, such as dengue and Zika, as well as nighttime biting mosquitoes in countries where there is the threat of malaria.
  • Medical care within French Guiana is limited and hospital facilities are available only in major urban areas.
    All travelers should be up-to-date on their immunizations and are advised to carry a medical kit as well as antibiotics to treat travelers diarrhea or other infections; they should bring drugs for malaria prophylaxis, if needed according to their itinerary. Travelers who are taking regular medications should carry them properly labeled and in sufficient quantity to last for the duration of their trip; they should not expect to obtain prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies in this country.
  • Travelers are advised to obtain, prior to departure, supplemental travel health insurance with specific overseas coverage. The policy should provide for direct payment to the overseas hospital and/or physician at the time of service and include a medical evacuation benefit. The policy should also provide 24-hour hotline access to a multilingual assistance center that can help arrange and monitor delivery of medical care and determine if medevac or air ambulance services are required.
    Health insurance is essential.

DO

  • Visit” Les Palmistes” The best place to people-watch on the palm-tree-lined Place des Palmistes also serves up perfect Caribbean-French ambience. Sit on the wooden terrace with its wrought-iron balustrade to dine on fantastic salads, crepes, pizzas and full meals while sipping a cold beer. Bliss.
  • Eat at the La Kaz Kréòl ,The best sit-down Creole restaurant in Cayenne serves outstanding stuffed cassava, meat stews and seafood in a homey setting. Try the Creole breakfasts on Saturdays and Sundays.