Île Sainte-Marguerite – The Hidden Beauty of Lérins Islands
At only 1.5 miles long and 900 meters wide, it might be surprising to hear that Ile Sainte-Margurite is the largest of the Lerins Islands. This paradise-like island is located half a mile offshore from the town of Cannes. The island has always been a popular stopping point with travelers sailing the Mediterranean coast, and it also works as a great day trip destination from the mainland.
If you like coastal walks, secret beaches, and grand castles, you're in for a real treat on Ile Sainte-Marguerite. Whatsmore, there are a handful of restaurants and food vendors dotted around the island to keep you fed and watered during your visit.
Arguably the island is home to some of the best beaches on the French Riviera. While the mainland has its fair share of secret coves and golden-sand beaches, there's nothing like the privacy of sunbathing on a tiny island. Furthermore, most beaches on the island have views of some sort. Ille Saint Honorat, Cannes, and the coastline around Antibes should all come into view at some point!
The beaches on the island tend to be pebbled and are tucked away behind rows of trees. The best way to find them is to wander the coastal paths on foot! While this might seem like an arduous task to some, it's definitely worth the effort.
In general, the beaches closest to the port are the busiest. The further you walk from Ils-Sainte-Marguerite Port, the quieter the beaches become. Likewise, the rougher the terrain becomes underfoot, the fewer people you'll find with you! In conclusion, make sure you're wearing comfortable footwear to scramble along rocks to the perfect secret beach.
As soon as you step foot on Ile-Sainte-Margurite, you'll be captivated by the beauty of the island. But there's more to Sainte-Margurite than its undeniable beauty; it's also a place bursting with wildlife.
One of the best ways to navigate Ile-Sainte-Margurite's flora and fauna is to follow the signposts. You'll notice several signposts and marked trails dotted around the island, and these wind their way from one end to the other. Begin by visiting the Bateguier pond, a humanmade pond home to numerous specious of migratory birds. From here, wind your way along the path to the Point de la Convention to enjoy the island flora. There's a unique variety of plant species on Sainte-Margurite!
The Allee des Eucalyptus is one of the most visited areas of the island as it’s lined with eucalyptus trees! Not only can you enjoy the refreshing smell of eucalyptus, but you’ll also enjoy a nice break from the scorching sun.
After you've soaked up the island wildlife, consider visiting the Fort Royal. This impressive castle is the former residence of the Man in the Iron Mask, France's most famous prisoner. The fort was built between 1624 and 1627 and underwent extension in 1635 during the Spanish occupation. During the 17th century, the building became a prison and held some notorious inmates. A guided tour inside its walls gives a glimpse into the French penal system. Make sure you explore the artillery storerooms, the chapel, and the Museum de la Mer.
Musée de la Mer
The Museum of the Sea sits inside the Fort Royal and is a stand-alone attraction. The museum's exhibits cover the land and maritime history of the island and surrounding region. Archeological exhibits and historic artifacts line the walls and give a glimpse into life on Sainte-Marguerite in the 17th century. Make sure you admire the Roman ruins, Saracen shipwrecks, and impressive frescos before leaving.
Visit the museum in the summer months, and you'll enjoy temporary exhibitions out on the terraces.
While staying on Iles-Sainte-Marguerite, it's worth visiting the second island in the Lerins Island group, Ile Saint-Honorat. If you thought Marguerite was remote and peaceful, Honorat would bowl you over. The island is home to a community of monks, the Abbey of Lerins, and over 40-acres of tropical grounds littered with historical sites.
The smaller of the two islands provides a relaxing escape and can be accessed quickly from Cannes port or Marguerite port. Boats depart from Cannes eight times a day, and crossing times vary depending on the season.
The other Lerin Islands (from biggest to smallest) are Ilot de la Tradeliere and Ile Saint-Ferreol. Both are best visited by private boat from Cannes or the larger islands.
Where to Eat
There aren’t many restaurants on Ile-Sainte-Margurite but the ones that exist are fairly impressive. For traditional French cuisine visit La Guerite. While the price tag is a little steep, the stunning harbor views make it worth the price. For a more laid-back dinner, enjoy a pizza from Catamaran Pizza. If you’re exploring the island with the little ones in tow, head to the family-friendly Restaurant L’Escale.
In conclusion, Ile Sainte-Margurite is a paradise island in the Mediterranean Sea. If you're looking to add a little variety to your French Riviera holiday, make sure you dock on the island!
From Nice Cote d'Azur Airport, Cannes is a 40-minute drive, or a short boat rides away. Once in Cannes, you should head to the port and catch a ferry over to Ile-Sainte-Marguerite. Ferry crossing times differ depending on the season, but FranceRent can take care of all your luxury transfers needs. With FranceRent, you can travel stress-free with the confidence that your travel arrangements are locked in.
If you want to touch down in Ile-Sainte-Margurite in style, consider chartering a yacht and sailing the coast. Alternatively, take a private helicopter from Nice Cote d'Azure Airport and fly to the island while admiring views birds-eye views of the Cote d'Azur.
South of France by car
With 71 miles of winding corniche roads, numerous quaint Provincial villages to visit, and endless soft sand beaches to stop at and enjoy some sun-soaking, France’s Cote d’Azur is one of Europe’s dreamiest road trip destinations. Rent a car on the French Riviera and the Mediterranean Sea and the charm of southern France is at your fingertips! On your Riviera road trip, you’ll wind your way around a variety of landscapes, soak up a diverse range of cultures, and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastline. After all, there’s no better way to navigate the coast than to do so with the comfort and freedom of your own vehicle.
Boat activities on Cote d'Azur - France
The French Riviera, also known as the Cote d'Azur, is found on France's south-east coast and overlooks the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Known for its dazzling sand beaches, upmarket resort towns, and glamorous casinos, the Cote d'Azur has been a popular holiday destination with some of the world's wealthiest travelers since the 18th century. While boutique shops and Michelin-starred restaurants are certainly points of interest on the coast, one of the biggest draws is the array of water-based activities available. From yacht rentals, private boat tours, parasailing excursions, water sport rentals, and jet ski hire, the list of aqua-excursions is endless! Our simple guide to boat rental on the French Riviera takes a look at the different watersports available along the coast and the range of yacht and boat rentals available. After all, no visit to the Cote d'Azur can pass by without a day at sea.
Events and festivals on French Riviera
The Cote d’Azur is abuzz with glitz and glamour all year round but it’s the summer months that really get the party started on France’s sought-after south coast. Events and festivals are held every month and range from theatre performances and music festivals to cinematography celebrations and yacht races. A-listers, millionaires, and outright party people flock to the shores of the Mediterranean for a summer to remember as seaside towns and secluded beaches become the stomping ground for a summer of fun. Below we take a look at some of the best events and festivals on the Côte d’Azur and provide a handy event guide to help you plan your dream trip.
Top activities on Cote d'Azur
The scenic stretch of coastline known as the Cote d’Azur winds its way along France’s south coast from Saint Tropez to Menton, encompassing the chic towns of Cannes, Nice, and Monaco along the way. The area is known as a playground for the rich and famous, and a glamorous holiday destination for those looking to soak up the very best of the French Riviera. When it comes to Cote d’Azur attractions, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit along the coast to keep all character types entertained. Whether you’re exploring Nice’s charming Old Town on a free walking tour, people-watching at Monte Carlo Harbor, or admiring 19th-century art in Cannes, the Cote d’Azur doesn’t disappoint.
Best restaurants on Cote d'Azur - France
Famous for its designer fashion brands, rolling vineyards, and historic monuments, France is a country with a lot to offer but it’s the nation’s gourmet cuisine that draws millions of visitors year after year. French dishes, which are usually full of flavor, made using simple ingredients, and boasting great finesse, have been replicated around the globe by passionate chefs aiming to try their hand at traditional dishes and haute cuisine. Below we’ve looked at some of the best restaurants in the south of France. Whether you’re looking for fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant (France is home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world) or hearty French cuisine at an authentic bistro, we’ve covered all dining options to suit every taste in this restaurant guide.
Shopping on Cote d’Azur
It’s no secret that the South of France is an area well known for its acquired taste in luxury living, and when it comes to shopping this affluent region has a real flair for fashion and a lot to offer for shopaholics. Dare to drag yourself away from the alluring arrondissements of Paris’s fashion district and you’ll be rewarded with a sunsoaked shopping haven on Cote d’Azur and when it comes to shopping, the French Riviera does not disappoint. From upmarket department stores like Galeries Lafayette (whose flagship store you’ll find in Paris) to independent art galleries including the Sheun Gallery in Nice, the array of shopping available on Cote d’Azur covers a variety of tastes and, believe it or not, can be tailored to suit all budgets.