So, you are in Cannes. You have absorbed the glamour of one of the most talked about spots on the French Riviera. Also, you’ve browsed the designer stores, drunk your weight in Rosé and spent the day at Nikki Beach – but now what?
It’s time to let you in on a little secret… Beyond the shore of Cannes lie two emerald islands drenched in nature, tranquillity and culture. These islands, known as Îles de Lérins, will take you away from the norm, and on an adventure, not everyone can say they’ve experienced when visiting Cannes.
Take one step onto either island and you’ll be captivated by the fragrance of pine and eucalyptus, blown away by the soft songs of the migratory birds and enchanted by the miles of unspoiled nature. It’s a place where nature, culture and leisure combine in perfect harmony.
It’s time to discover the islands of Cannes…
CANNES ISLAND TRIP: How do I get there
A quick, 15-minute ferry boat ride will transport you to the emerald isles of Îles de Lérins. You can take the ferry from the Port of Cannes as well as Juan Les Pins or Golfe Juan. Tickets can be purchased from the desk at Quai Laubeuf on the Port de Cannes, or online through multiple websites such as Get Your Guide.
The Îles de Léhrins consists of two main islands and two mini not populated islands reached only by private or hired boat. Most tend to visit the largest island, Île Sainte-Marguerite but it’s still worth exploring Île Saint-Honorat too.
If you’re staying elsewhere along the French Riviera and would like to do the trip, we’d recommend Rome to Rio, it’s a great website for finding the best routes when travelling.
Now, your trip to Cannes Islands can begin.
If you’re one for an adventure of discovery, then the largest of the Lérins islands is the one for you. Here you’ll come upon hidden coves, tidal pools and a selection of secluded beaches (both rocky and sandy). Marked trails that weave through the sweet-smelling pine forest is the best way to find these moments of the unspoiled oasis.
Not only will these paths lead you to beautiful beaches, but you’ll also find unique species of plants among the pine and eucalyptus, especially at Point de la Convention. The combination of these plants creates the most hypnotic fragrance that’ll always remind you of your day on Île Sainte-Marguerite.
During your walk along the trail you’ll come across the Batéguier pond, a definite highlight for bird watchers as numerous species of migratory birds congregate here throughout the day.
Certainly worth mentioning is that not only is this island idyllic, it also has a very interesting past. Here resides the 17th Century Fort Royal, the former residence of France’s most famous prisoners: the Man in the Iron Mask.
If you’d like to uncover more about the island’s history, then the Maritime Museum is not to be missed; sheltered within a fortified enclosure, it offers visitors an insight into the area’s long history.
The tiny island of Île Saint-Honorat, being less than half a mile wide, is famous for its very French history. Home to the Abbaye de Lérins, a 19th Century monastery, where 30 Cistercian monks tend the vineyards creating award-winning wines which been appreciated by many at the Cannes Film Festival – ooo la la!
Although the monastery is closed to tourists, you can visit the Gothic church and gift shop selling the islands wines and other monk-made delights.
Saint Honorat, the namesake of this island, legends say it was driven away from a dangerous dragon around the year 410, and since then monks have populated this tiny part of France.
What is now a scenic ruin, once stood a fortress built to help the friars withstand pirates and the like whilst Medieval vestiges remain in the stark church, which is open to the public. The ruins now provide us with camera-ready views of Cannes, the Alpine range and the cape of Antibes, nothing screams ‘Instagram’ more than a pristine view of Cannes!
Both islands have picnic benches, offering the perfect spot for you to enjoy a packed lunch whilst taking in the unspoiled views of Cannes and the snow-capped Alps.
But, if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious – try the beachfront restaurant, La Guérite on Île Sainte-Marguerite or the abbey’s La Tonnelle on Île Saint-Honorat. With unmatched views at both restaurants, you’ll enjoy a glass of something feeling very relaxed in the heat of the Riviera sun. We’d recommend reserving a table if you’d like to try either restaurant for lunch.
With no hotels available on the islands, we’d recommend staying in Cannes to do this trip. Both the Marriot and Radison Blu are superb hotels in the city, but if you’re on a slight budget or would like to stay a little outside the city Lou Messugo offers excellent self-catering accommodation too.
Do you know what makes this day trip absolutely perfect? Being able to enjoy a completely different paradise from that in Cannes and still make it back in time for happy hour in one of the bars in Cannes!
If you’re yet to experience the true Provincial charm of the city, or you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed by the place, join our Cannes walking tour and get the low down on all things Cannes.