© Ali Shayler
Ile Sainte Marguerite, Lerins Islands
The gorgeous island of Saint Marguerite is the largest of the islands off the coast of Cannes. Regular ferries run from Cannes and only take around 15 minutes, yet this small island of quiet pine forest and pretty coves feels far separated from the glitzy boutiques and hotels of Cannes.
Covered with pine and eucalyptus forest and edged with beautiful coves, this is an island to enjoy nature. The waters are crystal clear, with stunning views back to the Riviera coastline. There are only about 20 houses on the island in a small village near the ferry dock; the rest of the island is covered in forest, with an old fort and museum where you can explore the island's Roman and Crusader history, as well as its final days as a notorious French prison and soldier's hospital. The are a couple of restaurants for refreshments, and daily ferries provide access.
History & Culture in Ile Sainte-Marguerite
This 17th century fort gained notoriety for housing the 'Man in the Iron Mask' - a prisoner during the time of Louis XIV and immortalised by the writers Voltaire & Alexander Dumas (and by Leonardo di Caprio in the 1998 film of the same name). The rest of the island is covered with pine forests and walking trails - exploration of which will no doubt lead you to your own little beach or cove.
Sights & Attractions in Ile Sainte-Marguerite
The main attraction is the Fort and old prison, the Royal Musee de la Mer. This 17th century fort gained notoriety for holding the 'Man in the Iron Mask' - a prisoner during the time of Louis XIV and immortalised by the writers Voltaire & Alexander Dumas (and by Leonardo di Caprio in the 1998 film.) You can see the cells and old Roman cisterns; the museum also houses artefacts from Roman and Saracen shipwrecks. There's also a small cemetery for French and North African soldiers nearby. Go there and check it out for yourself!
Beaches in Ile Sainte-Marguerite
With a mix of sandy stretches and private rocky coves, the beaches on this small island are well worth the trip over alone. see what we thought of them in our beach report.
Things to Do in Ile Sainte-Marguerite
You can easily walk around the island in a couple of hours, on forest paths that smell of pine and eucalypt. There are sculptures to look out for in the trees, as well as a lagoon for birdwatching. You can clamber over the rocks along the beach looking for creatures in rockpools, or just settle on the beach for a day of relaxing, snorkelling and picnics.
The beaches on this small Island are worth the trip over alone, see what we thought of them in our beach report.
Dining in Ile Sainte-Marguerite
There are two restaurants and two snack bars on the Ile Ste-Marguerite. However, since you are on a beautiful Island for the day it could be best is to take a picnic with you! On the island you will find a large number of picnic areas where the views are fantastic and the shadow of the pine trees is much appreciated in the summer. Furthermore they are close to the sea if you want to pop in for a quick swim.
Regular ferries run from Cannes and only take around 15 minutes from Cannes. Ferries and boat trips also run from St Tropez, Antibes and Nice.
Ile Sainte-Marguerite, Cannes