Isles de Lerins – a island paradise just 15 minutes from Cannes
The Îles de Lérins consist of two main islands, with two mini ports which are reached only by smaller private boats. The largest, Île Sainte-Marguerite, is full of hidden coves, tidal pools and tiny beaches and is crisscrossed by a network of well-marked walking trails. For divers and snorkelers, the waters around and between the islands are a marine paradise, home to scores of protected species. Neither island allows cars or bikes and there are no hotels on the islands:
lle Sainte-Marguerite is also home to Fort Royal, a 17th century prison once housing the ‘Man in the Iron Mask.’ Private tours of the fort are available and today the fortress is now used as a maritime museum, with a wealth of archaeological finds that include 1st-century murals, artifacts from a 10th-century Saracen shipwreck and even Roman–era ceramics.
When you arrive breathe in fragrant scents of pine and eucalyptus and head off to begin exploring independently on well-marked trails and maps which cover the island, or stroll along to the Batéguier étang to see migratory birds, or Point de la Convention to appreciate a range of unique plant species that call Ile Sainte-Marguerite home.
Just over three quarters of a mile long and less than half a mile wide, tiny Île Saint-Honorat is home to the Abbaye de Lérins, where 20 Cistercian brothers live a life of solitude tending acres of vineyards from which they make award-winning wines. There is a shop where you can buy the locally grown wine and lavender products.
Many monuments are free of charge and this island has five historic monuments: the monastery tower (first listed in 1840 in the Alps Maritimes) with stunning views across to St Tropez and beyond; the Chapelle Saint-Sauveur (1886); the Chapelle de la Trinité (1886) and two Napoleonic hot shot furnaces (1908).