Les Îles de Lérins (Lerins Islands) are a group of four islands located just off the coast of Cannes. The public are able to visit two of the islands, Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint-Honorat, the other two islands are tiny and uninhabited. The islands are approximately 15 mins by boat from Cannes. If you’re not lucky enough to have your own yacht, then ferries run from Cannes, Juan-les-Pins and Golfe-Juan. At the height of summer, the area between the two islands is literally a car park for yachts, with sometimes hundreds of yachts anchored in the narrow strip of water, attracted by the calm, crystal clear water. It is a beautiful place to swim off a yacht, even if it does get very crowded. The islands provide something of an oasis, just moments from the madness of Cannes and the densely populated coastline.
Île Sainte-Marguerite is the largest of the islands at nearly 3km in length and is home to the “Fort Royal” where The Man in the Iron Mask was held captive during the 17th century. Beautiful marked trails surround the island and this is a truly special place to enjoy a walk and lose yourself in nature, admiring the beautiful views on offer at every turn. Bicycles and scooters are not allowed, dogs are permitted but must be kept on a lead. There are two restaurants on the island, L’ESCALE and LA GUERITE. Both restaurants have water taxis that will collect you from your yacht and take you ashore. L’ESCALE is a traditional fish restaurant with fresh grilled fish on the menu and the legendary Bouillabaisse, though that needs to be ordered in advance as it does in most restaurants. LA GUERITE has a slightly more contemporary menu of Mediterranean cuisine with Asian influences. Both restaurants have fabulous terraces with views over the sea. They are also very popular choices for events such as weddings and product launches.
Île Saint-Honorat is about half the size of Île Sainte-Marguerite and like its neighbour, it is dotted with magnificent footpaths and is a stunningly beautiful place to walk around. The island is home to approximately 30 Cistercian monks that inhabit the impressive 15th century Lérins Abbey. The monks produce superb quality wine, liqueurs and honey on the island that are available for the public to buy.
Anyone chartering a yacht in Cannes or on the Côte d’Azur should come here at least once, it’s well worth the visit!