New Caledonia : picture post card beautiful
Abundant nature, fine sandy beaches, turquoise waters… This French archipelago in the Pacific Ocean is a rich cultural hybrid of the people who call it home. The second largest French Overseas Territory, it has widely autonomous status.
A hybrid mix
Its first people – the Melanesians – arrived there in around 1300 B.C. The second wave of migration – Polynesian – dates back 900 years. A land of hybrids, it was named Caledonia – the former name for Scotland – in 1774 by James Cook. This navigator gave the island this name due to its resemblance to his native land.
Covering 23,000km2, it is the biggest and most beautiful lagoon in the world. Bounded by coral running for 1,600 km, it is home to 350 species of coral and 1,600 species of fish. Dotted with paradise islands, it is classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Ile des Pins
To the south of Grande Terre, the main island, Ile des Pins is beautiful everywhere you look. Its beaches go on for ever and are edged by trails shaded by banyan trees and column pines. Rising to 262m, the pic N'Ga dominates the island and the natural bathing pool created by the Oro bay in the centre of the lagoon.
Prawn, crab and bougna
Just like its people, Caledonian cuisine is a hybrid. Bush meat, venison, wild pig, prawns and crab are just some of the specialities. Bougna, the traditional Kanak dish, is a marinade of tubers, fish, crustaceans and lobster, and is washed down with local beer.
Tjibaou cultural centre
Museum, media library, congress centre, performance space, research and design centre and botanical park, this public establishment was created to promote Kanak culture. It is housed in a monumental complex combining modernity and tradition, constructed between 1995 and 1998 by Italian architect Renzo Piano.