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©S. Le Pelley
Lérins islands

Lérins Islands

The Lérins islands “Iles de Lérins” face the bay of Cannes, in the Alpes Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. The archipelago is made of five islands, two of which are the main ones: Sainte Marguerite Island and Saint Honorat Island. They both preserve an exceptional natural, historical and cultural heritage. Every year, the archipelago of the Lérins Islands attracts many visitors, French and tourists from all over the world.

The wild and peaceful atmosphere of the islands makes them a perfect place to go for a walk on sunny days. The sportspersons can enjoy water sports, while others can relax or discover the wonders of the archipelago.

This idyllic area is accessible in only 15 minutes by boat from Cannes and in about 1 hour from the city of Nice. Excursions also start from Mandelieu-la-Napoule. The Lérins islands are a real gem of the French Riviera, offering you a change of scenery. Embark on board the shuttle boat for a sunny escapade. You will appreciate the beauty of the landscapes that you will be able to discover during a hike or by going scuba diving.

Sainte Marguerite island

The Sainte Marguerite Island is the largest of the Lérins archipelago. It stretches over nearly 3 kilometers and is home to a 152-hectare state-owned forest where Aleppo and Eucalyptus pines grow.

 

Nature getaway

Visitors can discover its beautiful, protected creeks through marked hiking trails. You will be able to appreciate the beauty of the landscapes: blue sea, ornithological reserve and the Batéguier pond. Nature, culture and relaxation await you on Sainte Marguerite Island. From the western tip of the island, you can also enjoy a magnificent panorama of the Esterel massif and from the eastern tip, a breathtaking view of the Cap d’Antibes.

Nature lovers will thus be able to observe the different species of migratory birds that settle on the island, and  also the numerous plant species that develop on this land.

You can enjoy the sandy or pebble beaches, go swimming or practice snorkelling to discover marine species. It is also possible to enjoy the view of the island from the sea, aboard a boat, a canoe or a kayak.

Cultural visits

Sainte Marguerite Island is dominated by the royal fort built on the initiative of Richelieu in the XVIIth century, then reinforced by Vauban under Louis XIV. The building was a state prison which held a famous prisoner: the Iron Mask, whose identity remains a mystery to this day. His cell is open to visitors. Today, in the oldest part of the fort, you can visit the Museum of the Sea. The latter gathers archaeological collections of the island, remains from underwater excavation campaigns as well as information on the preservation of the seabed of the Lérins Islands.

On the island, you can also discover the “Fort de la Convention” and the cannonballs ovens located at the ends of the island, which were once used to feed the cannons with red-hot cannonballs.

The island is also home to a picturesque village with restaurants and charming fishermen’s houses. The place is ideal for a gourmet break after a walk on the paths of the island.

The Saint Honorat island

The Saint Honorat island, 1,500 meters long and 400 meters wide, is wooded with umbrella pines and maritime pines. Wilder than the island Sainte Marguerite, the Saint Honorat island is wider than the Sainte Marguerite island. It is breathtakingly beautiful.

 

Calm and spirituality

This island is particularly known for the abbey of the monks of Lérins, created in the Vth century. Thirty Cistercian monks live in this building, listed as a French Historic Monument. They have a renowned 8-hectare vineyard where they produce the abbey’s wine, red and white, as well as plant and fruit liqueurs and olive oil. The monks also offer commented tastings and wine-related workshops under the century-old olive trees or in the garden.

The island can be freely visited as well as the monastic church. If you go there during the day, you can attend one of the daily masses.

The emblematic monument of the island is the old fortified monastery. You can discover vaulted rooms, terraces… The discovery of the island will also lead you to the remains of seven small chapels. These testify to the history and power of the monastic community over the centuries. The historical heritage present on the Saint Honorat island is particularly rich.

At sea

An excursion on a catamaran, sailboat or motorboat is a great way to enjoy the view of the island and the pleasures of the sea. The dense Mediterranean vegetation and historical remains are part of the island’s charm.

To enjoy the Mediterranean Sea from the Saint Honorat Island, you can settle down on one of the various beaches and coves. Go to Saint Pierre cove, Abbey beach, Saint Michel cove or to the port beach. Relax and cool down diving in the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It is highly recommended to bring a pair of shoes to go in the water.

Selection of natural spaces in the Maritime Alps :

 

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