On-line Guide: Ile Sainte-Marguerite
Posted May 2018 in Go & Do
Picture a sun-kissed island. Golden beaches cover its shores. Each one offers private access to the shimmering Mediterranean. Pine and eucalyptus-shaded walking paths crisscross the isle’s interior: no motorised vehicles are allowed.
This postcard-perfect place sounds like some remote getaway, floating in a Caribbean corner of paradise. But instead, Ile Sainte-Marguerite sits unexpectedly in the heart of the Mediterranean, just a 15-minute ferry ride south of Cannes.
That’s right. Despite its accessibility, Ile Sainte-Marguerite – one of the duo of islands known as the Iles de Lérins – retains an enchanting, far-from-the-maddening-crowd feel no matter what the season. Perhaps that’s why Louis XIV imprisoned the mysterious Man in the Iron Mask here during the 17th century. Today, the former prison has been transformed into the island's Maritime Museum, stocked with treasure rescued from ancient shipwrecks across the region. Although most visitors will take a peek at the infamous prisoner's creepy cell – which has remained intact onsite.
After this hearty dose of culture, it’s time to get down to some serious lazing around. You are on a sub-tropical island, after all!
An easy coastal trail loops around Ile Sainte Marguerite’s petite perimeter (3km by 1km). The southern side of island is by far the most sheltered as it's protected by Ile Saint-Honorat, the second of the Iles de Lérins. But take the time to explore. You’ll soon find your own perfect stretch of sand.
There are just two restaurants on the island: La Guerite (open from April to October) and L'Escale.(open in the evenings in July and August) However you could always buy picnic goodies before you set off – from baguettes and goat’s cheese to fresh figs and a chilled bottle of rosé. Try Cannes’ Marché Forville (Tuesday-Sunday 7am-1pm). Don’t panic if you forget to pack the corkscrew though, there is a floating drinks bar that sails round the island!
Ferries to Ile Sainte Marguerite depart regularly from Nice, Juan-les-Pins and Cannes, the latter operating year round. Return tickets cost €15.00 for adults, €9 for children from 5-10 years old, free for children 4 and under.
Intrepid explorers may want to extend their adventures with a daytrip to Ile Sainte-Marguerite’s sleepy sister island, Ile Saint-Honorat. Ferries to Ile Saint-Honorat depart hourly from Cannes year round. (Note that there’s no public transport between the two islands.) Return tickets cost €15.00 for adults, €9.50 for children from 5-10 years old & free for children 4 and under.
There is a small discount for ferry tickets booked in advance online.