French Polynesia includes more than 100 islands in the South Pacific and stretches for more than 2,000 km. Divided into the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, La Sociedad and Tuamotu archipelagos, they are known for their coral-lined lagoons and their bungalow hotels on the sea.
Characteristics of the islands include black and white sand beaches, mountains, uneven fields, towering waterfalls, and turquoise lagoons. Sultry French Polynesia is a place to take it slow and experience warm, laid-back island culture.
Culture & History
French Polynesia is a French overseas country. Although it has its own government, it depends on France despite being between Oceania and America. Its inhabitants have European citizenship and can participate in European elections.
The tamure is the traditional dance and contemporary music is the kaina porinetia, which is danced by all the villagers. His dances have an erotic and provocative charge. When the missionaries arrived in Polynesia, they were very surprised by these dances, especially the timorodee and the upaupa couple dance. Her clothing stands out for being in vibrant colors and accompanied by a typical accessory, the intertwined flower necklace.
Traditional cuisine is a balanced mix of French, Chinese and Polynesian influences: béchamel, soy sauce or coconut milk are just as present.
Fish from the open sea (tuna, bonito, wahoo, swordfish and dolphinfish) and lagoon fish (parrotfish, horse mackerel and pike) stand out in traditional cuisine. The poisson cru (raw fish in coconut milk) is the most popular local dish, although fish is also served grilled, fried, or cooked.
Maa Tahiti, a traditional Tahitian stew, is a consistent mix of starchy yam and uru (breadfruit), raw or cooked fish, pork fat, coconut milk, and a few vegetables. On special occasions, the whole is prepared with care and placed in a himaa (cooking hole) where a layer of stones and banana leaves separate the food from the embers.
An incredible tourist option is to walk through Papeete, the capital of Polynesia, where you will hear all the ancestral stories of the island. Papeete's large, teeming market is also a wonderful place to examine tropical foodstuffs as well as to buy handicrafts. It's especially busy before dawn on Sunday.
The Musée de Tahiti et Ses Isles/Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands recounts the geology, history, culture, flora, and fauna of French Polynesia. It's worth a stop just for the outstanding view of Moorea from its coconut-grove setting.
Also, the great French painter Paul Gauguin lived and worked on Tahiti's south coast from 1891 until moving to Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands. The Musée Gauguin/Gauguin Museum has a few of his original works, but is best at tracing his adventures in French Polynesia.
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