Paris in the Pacific
Think of romance and images of France often spring to mind, with its beautiful language, fine dining and elegant fashion. Not everyone can jet off to Paris, but you can still enjoy all the romance of French culture and cuisine a little closer to home in New Caledonia - combined with Melanesian hospitality, stunning beaches and a tropical climate of course!
The cosmopolitan capital of Noumea has all the fun of Paris in the Pacific, complete with sophisticated boutiques, vibrant nightlife and superb French cuisine. Spread along the sweeping Baie de la Moselle, with the tree-lined Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square) at its heart, the city was claimed by the French back in 1853, when it was still a trading port. Today, the lively streets are flanked with old colonial buildings, sandy bays, busy nightspots and bustling pavement cafés that lend it a unique French ambience.
Le Petit Train is an ideal way to explore the city and enjoy its unique character. This handy miniature train completes a circuit from Anse Vata to the city centre, dropping you off at the main sights around town. Take a stroll along one of the sandy beaches, enjoy a glass of French wine over a gourmet meal, or head to the beautiful Isle of Pines for a secluded weekend getaway. Whatever you do, you’ll find plenty of ways to get your New Caledonia adventure off to a great start:
Take a stroll in the Place des Cocotiers
The Fontaine Celeste (built in 1892) sits at the centre of this beautiful garden square shaded by giant flame trees. Head down the side streets off the square and you'll discover some great shops and cafés.
Visit the Noumea Aquarium at Anse Vata
You don’t have to go diving to enjoy the beauty of the reef. Noumea’s aquarium gives you the chance to view tropical fish, sea snakes, sharks, eels and live fluorescent coral without getting wet.
Route de L'Aquarium. Closed Mondays.
Discover Kanak Culture at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre
Designed by Renzo Piano, the centre is famous for its stunning blend of modern and traditional Kanak architecture. Learn about Kanak myths and legends with the Nyian Theatre Company, or enjoy the music, dance and exhibitions.
Tina Peninsula, open Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-5pm, closed on Monday.
Find Out About New Caledonia’s Maritime History
The story of the great Pacific navigators began some 3000 years ago and continues to the present day. See the biggest wooden rudder in the world and the extraordinary collection of famed French explorer Lapérouse.
11 Avenue James Cook, open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm.
Enjoy the Romance of the Isle of Pines
From 1872 to 1912, the Isle of Pines had a somewhat less welcoming role as a French penal colony, but today this pine-covered island is famous for its scenic beauty. Known as the Jewel of the Pacific, its pristine beaches, luxuriant forest and hidden caves provide the perfect spot for a secluded escape. Swim in the turquoise waters, snorkel above the turtles and colourful corals, or just unwind and enjoy the hospitable Melanesian culture.
Destination Isle des Pines, 12 Bis rue du General Mangin, Noumea.
Phone (687) 24 39 87.
Relax at a Pavement Café
After a morning’s shopping and exploring the city streets, what could be better than settling in at a pavement café, enjoying a cup of freshly brewed French coffee, and just soaking up the atmosphere? After all, that’s what New Caledonia is all about!
Air Calin, New Caledonia’s national airline, flies to Noumea from New Zealand and Australia, visit www.aircalin.com
New Caledonia Tourism
20 Rue Anatole France
Phone (687) 24 20 80