French Guiana

French Guiana.png

Officially part of France, but counted as a tickable entity to me (!) there are only a couple of reasons why you make the tricky trek to French Guinea. It is the location of Devil’s Island, made famous by the novel/film Papillon and it is also home to the European Space Agency launch site. Both of these were on the agenda as we headed over the river that flows between Suriname and FG. Welcomed by a smart ex-pat. “Welcome to France”. Most odd.


Devil’s Island is one of three small islands that comprise the prison settlement. It is not permitted to land on Devil’s Island itself, but you can observe pretty closely from Ile Royale, where there are also cells, a hospital and other administrative buildings. There is also a prison on the mainland which is now a museum.


Unbelievably there was a rocket launch on the day we arrived, so I was up at 1 in the morning to witness the spectacle from the hotel window. Incredibly noisy and a distinctive glowing of the clouds marked the event. After breakfast we headed to the space station for a tour of the rocket launch sites and the control centre. For someone who watched the moon landings on TV as a 7 year old this was amazing.


© Paul Hyland 2012