French Guiana is the largest overseas territory of France in South America. It shares its borders with Suriname and Brazil. On the northeast, it is washed by the Atlantic Ocean.
The climate in French Guiana is sub-equatorial, it is hot and humid there. The average annual temperature is +28°C but sometimes it can be as high as +37°C. The humidity level is very high throughout the year (almost 100%) which can bring a lot of discomfort for the Russian and European tourists. On the Atlantic coast and in the Cayenne region it is much more comfortable. The best time for visiting the country is at the end of July to December.
Almost half of the population in French Guiana are the Catholics. The other half are the Protestants, the Muslims, and the Hebrews. The Indians and the people Moroni practice their own local cults.
The official language of Guiana is French, however, the locals speak the dialect Patois (the combination of Creole and French). The Indian dialects are also spread.
The coastline near Cayenne is good for swimming, surfing, and windsurfing. The tourists can go rafting or canoeing across the rivers Gabriel and Kura.
The best sandy beach in French Guiana is in a village Remire-Montjoly. There is also a hiking route to the Montagne du Mahur Mountain.
Only the tourists from France can take a direct flight to French Guiana. The other EU tourists, the CIS and Russian tourists will have to choose a transit flight with a transfer in Paris. Only Air France and Air Caraibes offer the flights to French Guiana from Paris.
The flight from Orly (Paris) to Rochambeau (Cayenne) lasts about 9 hours.
As French Guiana is the overseas territory of France, Russian and CIS tourists must obtain a visa beforehand.
If the tourists have a valid Schengen visa or a French residence permit, they can to French Guiana visa-free.
A visa-free regime is also available for the tourists who already have the National Identification Number Visa France. This visa is valid for 12 months. However, if the tourists obtained the National Visa to visit French Guiana, its expiration date is not important.
The Customs legislation does not restrict the import and export of any currency (cash, credit cards, traveller’s checks). The sum exceeding 7.000 Euro and gold of 0.5 kg must be declared.
The tourists can import duty-free alcohol and tobacco for personal use as well as some food stuff, tea, and coffee. The total cost of the imported goods must not exceed 175 Euro (for an adult) and 90 Euro (for a child).
It is prohibited to import and export rare or endangered species of flora and fauna. If you need to take drugs, you must provide a doctor’s prescription with a sign and a stamp.
Animals and plants imported in Guiana are subject to the inspection by the Customs officers. To bring in pets, the tourists must have a vet certificate and a vaccination certificate.
The traditional cuisine of French Guiana is a mix of various cooking traditions. The French brought different cooking methods and the Pyrenees gave fish, vegetables, and exotic fruits. Due to the Creole cooking traditions, people in French Guiana use a lot of spices and herbs.
Rice came to the French Guiana cuisine from Southeast Asia. The Caribs are rich in fish and seafood and these products replacing expensive imported beef. In French Guiana, the tourists should try the Awara soup with crabs, clams, smoked fish, chicken, vegetables and exotic plant awara.
Meat dishes are prepared here from pork, game and poultry. Typically, meat is cooked over an open fire and rarely they stew or boil it. The locals always add to meat dishes root plants and fresh seafood. The most popular dish here is Roti (roasted meat and vegetables wrapped in a rice flatbread and served with hot sauces). Roti is believed to be an authentic dish of French Guiana.
The tourists can satisfy their thirst with fresh juices, mate tea and black coffee.
Rum is a traditional drink in French Guiana. However, the locals rarely drink pure rum. They prefer light alcoholic or non-alcoholic rum cocktails. The most popular is a tea Punch. It is a sour-sweet drink with rum, lime, and cane sugar.
French Guiana is part of the Eurozone but US dollars are also used in the country.
The tourists can exchange the currency at banks and in exchange offices. You will easily find it by the sign Bureaux de change. The exchange rate there is typically much lower than the official rate. We recommend taking Euro.
The tourists can pay with credit cards in large hotels, many restaurants, and large malls. In such cities of Guiana as cayenne and Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, there are ATMs. The ATMs are usually found at banks and in post offices.
One can cash the traveller’s checks in Cayenne and Kourou and the checks are accepted in hotels and malls. It is better to have the checks in Euro or US dollars.
If a tourist made a purchase for 185 Euro, he or she can refund the VAT.
Details of interest
Customs and Traditions in French Guiana
The citizens of French Guiana are friendly and hospitable. Despite the fact that different ethnic groups live in the country, the local people share the same European values. Only the Indians Caribe and Moroni people stand aside. Moroni has their own very complicated social structure based on the old African traditions. They are hostile to the European tourists who came to Guiana for holidays. Moroni prefers to live away from the noisy places and the coastline crowded with the tourists to preserve their unique culture.
The legislative and legal system in Guiana is regulated by the legal norms of France.
Sightseeing in Guiana
This country cannot boast of many truly unique sights so Guiana can disappoint the tourists who love to see historical and architectural monuments. In the older part of the country, in the city of Cayenne, there is the Place Grenoble with colonial buildings. The travellers can see the Botanical Garden and the Seper Fort built in the 17th century, offers a wonderful panoramic view of the city. On the coastline in Guiana, there is the Guiana Space Center in Kourou. The rockets are still launched from this place. 10 kilometres away from Cayenne, there is a village with the best beach in Guiana. This is the Remire-Montjoli Beach, where you can see the ruins of the Fort Diamant. In Cayenne, the Turtle Beach is available for the tourists. If you come here from April to July, you will see how hundreds of turtles lay their eggs right on the beach.
The Historic Cocoa Village is 75 kilometres away from the Cayenne close to Ruhr. Hmong people live in the village. In the past, they ran away from Laos and settled in French Guiana in the 70-s of the 20th century. On Sundays, in the village the market opens and the tourists can buy unique souvenirs such as embroidery, woven products and handmade crafts.
Souvenirs in Guiana
In Guiana, the tourists can buy unique carvings made by the Moroni people, Amerindian bows, and cotton hammocks.
The most popular souvenir among the Russian and European travellers is a bright African textile and clothes. A painted tray or a wooden mask of the Hmong people will suit any interior.
Women will like gold and silver jewellery with gems. In Guiana, you can also find traditional musical instruments.
The capital city Cayenne is the home of hot Cayenne pepper which you can buy in every city in a gift package.