© 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 made up of a 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 [locality]
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 and Alexander Dumas (and by Leonardo DiCaprio 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 [locality]
The main attraction is the fort and old prison, the Royal Musée de la Mer. You can see the cells and old Roman cisterns; the museum also houses artefacts from Roman and Saracen shipwrecks. There's a small cemetery for French and North African soldiers nearby. Go there and check it out for yourself.
Beaches in [locality]
With sandy stretches and private rocky coves, the beaches on this small island are well worth the trip over alone.
Things to Do in [locality]
You can easily walk around the island in a couple of hours, on forest paths that smell of pine and eucalyptus. 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.
Dining in [locality]
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's nice to take a picnic with you. On the island you'll 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. Ferries and boat trips also run from St Tropez, Antibes and Nice.
Ile Sainte-Marguerite, Nice