Celebrating Culture on New Caledonia Holidays
French & Melanesian influences in the Paris of the Pacific!
Part of New Caledonia’s considerable charm rests in the unique blend of Parisian flair and Pacific warmth—as a French collectivity in tropical paradise, cultures collide here in the best possible way. At My New Caledonia, we’ll show you how to celebrate them both for a culture trip you won’t forget!
One of the clearest nods to this culture match-made-in-heaven is gastronomical. The French influence in New Caledonian cuisine extends from technique to flavour, and while there’s plenty of purely traditional French cooking to be found, for the most part it’s a mouth-watering fusion. French chefs are inspired by local produce and Caledonian flavours, like the vanilla plantations of Lifou and the cultural importance of yams. Try Chez Toto in Noumea’s Latin Quarter for a Parisian atmosphere complete with escargots. For traditional Melanesian you can’t miss out on New Caledonia’s most popular dish, Bougna: a stew of fish, yams and plantain cooked in coconut milk in a traditional Kanak oven. This simple and nourishing meal is best enjoyed with a local tribe, but can also be found in many restaurants.
The lagoons and palm-fringed beaches might be one of the biggest drawcards for New Caledonia holidays, but venture a little further and you’ll find the heart of the islands is just as magnificent and waiting to be explored! French appreciation for beauty and outdoor pursuits is evident when you hike the Grande Randonnee, a five-day trail across the Deep South of Grande Terre. Beginning in Prony, an abandoned and meticulously restored historical village, the trail passes through gorgeous terrain, stunning peaks and lush primary rainforest before it reaches Dumbea. Signposted and certified by the French Hiking Federation, this trek will have you on intimate terms with the unique local flora and fauna, as well as the inhabitants of Kanak villages you’ll pass along the way.
BE PART OF IT
To really get a taste for New Caledonian culture, start your day the local way with a visit to the Port Moselle Market by the marina. Three of the five blue-tiled pavilions are given over to mounds of fresh local produce, from pineapples and yams to honey, preserves, and pastries. The ocean produce pavilion overlooks the wharf and fishing boats, where lobster, octopus and deep-sea fish, like mahi-mahi, were caught just that morning. Shop for handcrafted gifts and souvenirs, local art and jewellery and when you’ve worked up an appetite stop in at the French snack bar at the market entrance for one of their famous croque-madames.
Whether you’d rather be in the thick of it or are simply happy to sit back and people-watch, Place de Cocotiers is the very heart of French-Melanesian connection in Noumea and the perfect place to end our cultural tour. Relax under a coconut palm or try out the petanque pitch and giant chessboard by the historic band rotunda. Concerts and weekly street markets keep Noumea’s cultural heart beating and most nights there’s live music and traditional dancing to take in (or take part in!).
Post by Alana Eising
Alana is a writer and a wanderer who almost always wishes she were somewhere else. That’s why she writes about the fabulous places she’s been, and all the destinations left on her bucket list.