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Lerins Islands

Iles de Lérins - Provence Beyond

 Lerins Islands photo lerinsboats0016b.jpg

The "Iles de Lérins" is a small archipelago just off the coast of Cannes and part of the commune of Cannes. The archipelago has the two main islands of Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat and the two micro-islands of Tradelière and St-Féréol.

Boat excursions to the islands leave from Cannes (15 minutes to Saint-Honorat and 30 minutes to Sainte-Marguerite). Excursions also leave from Antibes, Golfe-Juan, La Napoule and Nice. The islands are pedestrian-only; no motor vehicles are allowed.

Ile Sainte Marguerite is the larger, and nearer, island. The island is covered by a lovely forest of Allepo pine and eucalyptus, with wide paths criss-crossing the length and breadth. The port area, where the ferry lands, has cafés and restaurants, and it's a short walk to the Fort Royal where you can see the now-bare little cell where the Man in the Iron Mask was incarcerated.

Ile Saint Honorat is the smaller, further, island, an additional 15 minutes by boat from the ferry landing of Sainte-Marguerite. Although small, the walks are still nice, and there's the Cisterian abbey to visit, which includes a gift shop of locally produced products.

Between the islands is a shallow, protected passage, the "Plateau du Mileu", a popular anchor point for the pleasure boats of the region. During the summer you can just about walk across from island to island over the closely packed nautical adventurers.

During the summer, a sound-and-light show presents the history of the islands, and the after-dark boat trip is part of the show.

Ferry Terminal

The ferry terminal for the boats to the Iles de Lérins is at the far southwest corner of the Cannes harbor. If you're standing in the center of Cannes looking out to sea (south), go around the right side of the harbor (west), out Quai Saint Pierre and past the Sofitel hotel.

There's a very handy open-air (but not free) parking lot. The terminal is at the far (southern) end of the parking lot.


Round-trip fare for Saint Honorat: 11.00 € adults; 5.50 € children (5-10 years)

Round-trip fare for Sainte Marguerite: 11.00 € adults; 5.50 € children (5-10 years)


There is on boat for the Cannes-Saint Honorat trip and a separate boat for the Cannes-Sainte Marguerite trip. The is no ferry that goes between the two islands.

Depart Cannes for St Honorat (Summer)

8h, 9h, 10h, 11h, 12h, 14h, 15h, 15h30**, 16h30, 17h30

Return Departs St Honorat (Summer)

8h30, 9h30, 10h30, 11h30, 12h30, 14h30, 15h30, 16h10**, 17h, 18h

** = optional

>Depart Cannes for St Honorat (Winter)

8h, 9h, 10h, 11h, 12h, 14h, 15h, 15h30**, 16h30, 17h30

Return Departs St Honorat (Winter)

8h30, 9h30, 10h30, 11h30, 12h30, 14h30, 15h30, 16h10**, 17h, 18h

** = optional

Depart Cannes for Ste Marguerite

9h, 10h, 11h, 12h, 14h, 14h30, 14h30, 16h15, 17h15(spr), 18h15(sum)
Optional: 9h30, 10h30, 11h30, 12h30, 13h30

Return Departs Ste Marguerite

9h15, 10h15, 11h15, 12h15, 14h15, 15h15, 16h15, 17h15, 18h(spr), 19h(sum)

spr = Springtime only; sum = Summer only.

History of Lerins Islands


First record, Lerin: Lero and Lerina were Ligurian deities.

Other online source info ( mentions "LENO - A Celtic god who was the protective deity of Lerins, Province, France. Other than dedicatory inscriptions which mention this god, little is known about him.", and

( "Lerina, ae, f. : Lérina (= les îles Lérins, nom de deux îles, près d'Antibes)".

Gallo-Roman: Both islands were inhabited in Antiquity. Traces of the Roman port and baths were discovered on Sainte-Marguerite, with the lowest levels dating to the 4th-century BC. The port was used on the maritime route between Rome and Spain.

Medieval: The Saint-Honorat abbey, founded early in the 5th century by Honoratus following the collapse of Roman power in the north of Gaul is one of the oldest in France. Both Greek and Roman architectural elements are used in the construction, including a Constantinian milestone from the mainland that was used as a column in the cloister of the chateau. The abbey adapted the Benedictine rules early-on, and had many illustrious Bishops and Saints. Honoratus himself was the Bishop of Arles for the last two years of his life (429-430). The abbey was destroyed in 730 by the Saracens. The castle-fort was built on the southern point of Saint-Honorat in the 11th century. In the 15th century, this became the monastery.

Barbary pirates invaded the islands in 1180, the Genoa pirates in 1400, and the Spanish in 1524. In 1633, Richelieu had the islands brought into the French realm. In 1635, the Spanish invaded again; they fortified the Fort Royal on Sainte-Marguerite, but were chased out in 1637. Fort Royal became a prison in the 17th century, and the Man in the Iron Mask was one of its famous prisoners. In 1746 it was the turn of the Austrian-Piedmonts to invade.

The monastery on Saint-Honorat was taken over in 1869 by the Cisterian order of Sénanque, who are still in residence today.

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