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Nouvelle-Calédonie — Grande Terre, New Caledonia

Welcome to France in the Pacific.  Melanesian at its heart, New Caledonia is one of these island realms scattered across Melanesia and Polynesia, which constitute the Overseas territories of France, or France d’outre-mer in the Pacific.  Running in a generally northwest to southeast orientation, Grande Terre is the largest island in the territory, near the southern end of which lies Nouméa, its capital and most populous conurbation.  Near the northern tip of Grande Terre lie Malabou and Poum, home to tranquil bays and long, deserted sandy beaches lapped by calm waters, perfect for a cool dip.  The morning calm is so serene that reflections in the mirror play tricks on the eye, making it nearly impossible to believe that earth ends and sky begins.   While the interior of Grande Terre is mountainous, numerous roads criss-cross the breadth of the island connecting the east and west coast.  On and near the coasts lie several natural attractions, including rock formations named La Poule Couveuse – The Brooding Hen, and Bonhomme de Bourail – The Old Man of Bourail.

Draped over several hills, bays and inlets, Grande Terre’s coastal capital Nouméa is a real stunner.  A quintessential vision of Nouméa is the view overlooking Cathédrale Saint Joseph rising in beige-yellow splendor over the city center spread out below and contrasting photogenically with the deep blue of Orphelinat Bay and the plethora of watercraft bobbing in the marina.  A few miles northeast of the city center, The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre features some of New Caledonia’s most sensational architecture.

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