Discover Cannes destination
The Lérins islands are the stars of the bay of Cannes. These islands do not play second part to those who will steer the entire light on the main star. They are the light and attract the desire of a visitor who is eager for the natural charm and of authentic places where time has stopped. Eternal are Saint-Honorat and Sainte-Marguerite, the largest of the islands of Lerins. Sainte-Marguerite’s historical heritage complements a natural wealth of a serene beauty. At the heart of the Royal Fort, the Sea Museum reminds us of the eternal object of lust that is Cannes.
A Little Bit of History
The island has no remnant of the first occupants, the Ligurians, soon to be followed by the Romans who settled there an oppidum. From the 5th century and for a thousand years, Sainte-Marguerite has belonged to the monks of Lérins. A chapel built in honor of Sainte-Marguerite will have her name.
The strategic position of the island did not escape the Duc de Guise who ordered in 1617 the construction of a defensive structure designed to lock the access to Cannes. The modest building was enlarged by the Spanish who occupied the island during the 30 year war. The French then recaptured, and Vauban visited the island and gave instructions on how to strengthen it. The Fort Royal has changed little since these works were carried out at the end of the 17th century.
It became a State prison in 1685. The history has retained a few famous prisoners, including General Bazaine, the only one to have escaped from the fort, and the mysterious Man in the Iron Mask. Some cells can still be visited today.
Sainte-Marguerite is first an outstanding natural heritage. There are 150 hectares of a forest of eucalyptus and Aleppo pine trees, lined with a seabed of remarkable clarity. The clearly marked botanical journey allows you to observe the species of maritime trees and plants. To the west of the island, the pond of Bateguier is the sanctuary of many migratory birds. The National Forest Office ensures the protection of the site and offers guided tours during the summer.
Overlooking a rocky cliff on the north side of the island, facing the cape Croisette, is the Royal Fort which houses the Sea Museum in its oldest section. There you will discover a large collection of underwater archeology and land, of wrecks of boats run aground off the islands, as well as a mockup reconstituting the hydrological system of roman tanks.
After the historic heritage there is the marine heritage. Located within the walls of the fort, the Mediterranoscope is a set of mediterranean aquariums, spaces of exhibitions, and educational workshops. Its role is to educate the visitor to the biodiversity around the Lérins Islands.
Sainte-Marguerite Practical ideas
Three maritime companies provide the connections between Cannes and Sainte-Marguerite. You will find two restaurants on the island open from April to October, as well as two snack bars and several picnic areas.
Cannes Youth manages the unique accommodation on the island, the International Stay Center, located in the walls of the Royal Fort. It accommodates various types of stays as seminars, classes’ discovery, sports courses, but also individual and family stays.