Ile de Saint Honorat, Lerins Islands
The island of Saint Honorat is the smaller of the two inhabited Lerins islands just off the Côte d'Azur coastline. Its main attraction is the monastery, a wonderful stone building well worth a visit.
This island is less touristy than its neighbour Sainte Marguerite. The only occupants are monks that have lived on the island since the 5th century in their very own medieval abbey.
Only 15 minutes by boat, this is a pleasant place to explore and walk to around the pine forest or have a swim in the clear blue water.
History & Culture in [locality]
The island of Saint Honorat sits in the bay of Cannes, in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. The history of this lush island is over 1,600 years, with the first monastic community settling there is 405 AD, under the guidance of Saint Honoratus and his companions. Today, 21 Cistercian monks live on the island, continuing the monastic tradition they live modestly whilst undertaking the production of wines and spirits.
The vineyard itself dates back to the Middle Ages, although it is believed to have existed previously for the purposes of the Eucharist. But it was not until the 1990's that the vineyards were revived professionally.
For the sake of preserving the balance of the island's ecosystem, the community of monks use no herbicide and the salt deposited by the sea breezes allows natural cleaning. Each year, the grapes are pampered, trimmed, de-budded and harvested entirely by hand.
Sights & Attractions in [locality]
The main attraction on the Island is the Abbaye de Lerins, a monastic community with a long and interesting history. You can also explore the vineyards of the winery; try a sample of these wines and maybe buy a bottle or two! The 15th century fortified monastery is a must-see attraction: climb up to the top for brilliant views and a sense of the peace and beauty of this gentle, historic isle.
Things to Do in [locality]
The Abbaye also runs their own cruises to and from the island and have various options for catered cruises and private functions depending on what you want to do and how much time you have.
You can walk around this small island in around two hours, enjoying the smell of pine forest, the stony beaches and the gorgeous views of the Mediterranean. Have a look at our walking guide. You might spot pheasants walking across the forest floor, or come across one of the ancient chapels that have fallen into disrepair over the centuries of religious settlement, (bring walking shoes as the paths can be rough). Have a picnic, swim, clamber over rockpools and snorkel in the shallows. Enjoy the peace and beauty: this island is a perfect escape to the glitz and buzz of nearby Cannes.
Dining in [locality]
There is one restaurant on the island, La Tonnelle, and as it happens, it's excellent. It's only open for lunch; make sure you book ahead.
Many boat trips will pass through this island as part of the day's excursion but you can also get a ferry direct to the island if you wish to spend the day or longer there.
Ile Saint-Honorat, Nice