Nouméa is the capital and only
city on the main island of New
Caledonia, a French territory in the southwest Pacific.
The city lies on a peninsula at the
island’s southern tip, sandwiched between low hills
and a protected deepwater harbour.
Founded in 1854 as Nouméa, Nouméa remains dominated by French language
and culture. The local economy is based on nickel smelting and tourism.
often referred to as the "Paris of the Pacific" because it
possesses a cosmopolitan atmosphere,
fine French restaurants, and chic boutiques. Tourists come here to visit
the city's many beaches, and to
windsurf and sail. Between the two main tourism areas of the town, Ansa
Vata Beach and Baie des Citron , a cigar-shaped peninsula
juts out into the South Pacific at Nouméa.
Nouméa is located on a
protected harbour in the southwestern
part of the island of New Caledonia. It
is the territory's capital, chief port, and principal administrative and
economic centre. Tourism, and the mining and refinement of nickel-ore are
both important to the town's economy. The National Conservatory of Arts
and Crafts and the Bernheim Library are situated here.
List of Highlights
- The Place des Cocotiers: Shadowed
by centenary flame trees, Place des Cocotiers is a very popular
gathering place right in the heart of the city. Four different areas
have been designed to provide a soothing environment for city dwellers
to enjoy. The most ancient area, the "Place Feuillet", has
been landscaped around an authentic old time music kiosk, the
"Place Courbet" and its monumental "Céleste"
fountain, the "Place de la Marne" with its open market and
live entertainment and finally the "Olry Square " where
sitting at a café terrace overlooking a refreshing ornamental lake is
a pleasurable experience
Centre: Discover the unique architectural embodiment of an
age-old identity. Located on the Tina peninsula, in Nouméa, 10
minutes from the town centre, the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is an
unambiguous statement, with its bold, modern style, both elegant and
restrained, drawing inspiration from traditional Kanak architecture.
Designed by Renzo Piano, one of the outstanding architects of the age
(1998 Pritzker Price), the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is an harmonious
alliance of traditional and modern.
Explore the Kanak path, the
expression of a nation's soul : Like an introduction, the Kanak path
leads the way to the Melanesian identity. Along this path, the visitor
will be initiated into the strength, the savours and the emotions
issuing from a living, ancestral culture, before stepping across the
threshold into the house.
Meet Pacific creativity : The
Tjibaou Cultural Centre is testimony to the vitality of Pacific
cultures. The works of Kanak art presented in the Bwenaado house and the
imposing Pacific sculptures conceived for the Jinu house offer the
visitor a voyage of discovery through these secular civilizations. The
Beretara gallery contains a unique collection of contemporary art from
the Pacific region. The multimedia library offers the public a wide
range of documentary resources on Kanak and Pacific cultures,
representing both tradition and the contemporary viewpoint. Hours :
Tuesday - Sunday (10 am - 6 pm). Closed on Monday.
Museum: Opened in 1971, this museum is dedicated to the
archaeology and ethnology of Oceania, a fascinating world. A vigilant
guardian of a several thousand years old culture, it invites you to
discover the archaeology of New Caledonia, the Kanak arts and
traditions. Its halls display a magnificent collection of ancient
Melanesian sculptures, totems, funeral masks, as well as many objects
depicting all the aspects of this society along the years: pottery,
ornaments, jewellery made of jade or shells, Kanak coins, spears,
models of outrigger canoes, roof poles, etc. Melanesian huts have been
built inside, and there is even an ethno-botanic garden in a patio.
Location: On the corner of avenue Maréchal Foch and rue Eugène-Porcheron
- City Centre. Hours: From 9 am to 11.30 am and 12.15 pm to 4.30 pm.
Every day except Tuesdays and public holidays.
The City of Nouméa
Museum (former Town Hall): Exhibitions retrace the
history of the city and its architectural heritage. Location: In the
former Town Hall, facing the Place des Cocotiers, at the corner of
avenue Foch & rue Jean-Jaurès. Hours: Mon. to Sat. from 9 am to
4.45 pm. Admission : Free
The Maritime History
Museum: This museum has been
open since 1999. Located in the port’s old passenger terminal, it
displays about 40 pieces of wreckage salvaged from the numerous ships
which have run aground on the reef. Each piece has been carefully
catalogued by the Fortunes de Mer and Salomon Associations.
Mount Ouen Toro: At
the southern tip of the Noumea peninsula, the Ouen Toro (128 m) offers
an outstanding viewpoint over metropolitan Nouméa. The beginning of
the track to the top of Ouen Toro is a stone's throw from the Anse
Corbasson" Zoological et Forest Park: A few minutes from
the City Centre, in the heights of Nouméa, the "Michel
Corbasson" zoological and forest park offers fantastic walks,
with magnificent views over the lagoon and the southern coast of the
Mainland. The park features a large number of birds, including the
rare endemic Cagou, the emblem of New Caledonia. Access to the park:
Departures from Anse-Vata (Palm Beach Shopping Arcade) four times a
day by the little tourist train.
Location: At Montravel. Hours: Every day from 10.15 am to 5.45 pm,
except Mondays; its closes at 5 pm between 1st May and 31st August.
Admission ends one hour prior to closing.
The Aquarium of Nouméa:
Founded in 1956 by Dr Catala-Stucki and his wife, the
Aquarium is one of the most attractive places in Nouméa. Everything
is natural; saltwater, sunlight and a multitude of fish.... In this
show-case of the New Caledonian lagoon, you will discover the
splendour of the coral reefs and its inhabitants: Napoleons, Angel
Fish, Gorgonia, striped fish, Nautilus - living fossils from great
depths - and fluorescent corals, like precious gemstones. Not to be
missed, the Aquarium is a unique symphony of colours.
Location: Aquarium Road, near Anse Vata.
Hours: From 10 am to 4.45 pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Monday).
The Bernheim Library: Due
to a generous donation from Lucien Bernheim (a pioneer mine owner),
the library opened in 1908. The library is a true witness of the past
and has recently been enlarged and restored in the colonial style of
the period. It accommodates more than 70,000 volumes, many of which
are about New Caledonia and the Pacific Islands. Location: In the
heart of the City, at the corner of the rue de la Somme & avenue
du Maréchal-Foch - City Centre. Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from
1 pm to 5.30 pm; Wednesday from 9 am to 5.30 pm; Saturday from 9 am to
A Gothic cathedral in the
tropics… Constructed in 1887 using convict labour, the cathedral
took 10 years to complete. It’s two 25 m square towers are made of
local stone and timber. Location: At the top of rue de Verdun - City
Centre Services: Sunday: 6 am, 9 am and 6.30 pm; Saturday: 6 am and 3
pm; Weekdays: 6 am and 6 pm.
The Local Produce Market:
The Nouméa Market is held daily at the Baie de la Moselle in
a joyous and colourful atmosphere but is an activity for the early
birds. A multitude of fresh fish and shellfish cover the stalls. Local
herbs, beautiful flower arrangements and garden vegetables can be
found next to luscious tropical fruit which can be eaten on the spot:
papayas with yellow or orange flesh, mangoes, custard-apples,
pineapples and bananas, green coconuts, passion fruit… Shop in a
cheerful atmosphere, with old Melanesians discussing their last
fishing trip, children playing, vendors sharing a joke… Location: In
Moselle Bay. Hours: From 5 am to 11 am / every day.
Moselle bay: Alongside
the morning market and the American monument erected in the memory of
the American presence in New Caledonia during WWII, is the marina on
Moselle Bay, from where sea excursions depart daily including
transfers to Amedée lighthouse, Maitre Islet and other paradisiacal
Orphelinat bay: Named
after Empress Eugénie’s orphans sent to New Caledonia to marry the
first European settlers, Orphelinat Bay hosts the monument
commemorating the first centenary of French presence in New Caledonia.
This impressive anchor was erected in 1953.
The Baie des citrons: Lemon
Bay is the perfect place for a family day at the beach or a meal in
one of its restaurants and cafés.
The Anse Vata bay: The
main area for sea activities, the Anse Vata bay is also pleasant for a
walk along the beach fringed by coconut trees. With numerous hotels,
restaurants and night-clubs, you will also find branches of Southern
Province and Loyalty Islands Tourist Offices located here.
The Henry Milliard horse
racing track: Since renovations took place in 1998, New
Caledonians enjoy getting together here to share their passion for
The Amédée Lighthouse:
Please refer to chapter "Transport" in regular
service to islets or to chapter "Sea excursons departing
from Nouméa" in "Marine sport activities".
The Pierre Vernier walk:
Fringed with coconut trees, the walk offers an enjoyable
environment for leisure and relaxation alongside St Marie bay. This is
a popular meeting point in Nouméa for a family walk or a mountain
bike ride with friends. The sailing school, which hosted in 1999 the
AOM windsurfing world championship, is located halfway.
The Hagen Castle in the
heart of the Settlers Valley: Hagen castle is one of the
remaining colonial style properties that once belonged to the wealthy
settler families. It has been restored by the Southern Province and is
now open to public on the occasion of theme exhibitions.
The little train in Nouméa