Hi everyone. I am going to be following on the travel blog of my predecessor and good friend Chris, for inspiration of where to visit during your stay with us in Nice. My name is Holly and I come from the charming County of Cornwall in England. Unlike Chris, this is my first time ever writing a travel blog, well actually, just a blog in general! I hope you enjoy and find some inspiration for your travels.
As it is my first time in the Côte d’Azur, one of the top places on my list to visit was Cannes, especially as the film festival is in full swing. However, upon further research I discovered that there were two islands just 1km off shore from Cannes. Having never heard of these islands, Saint Marguerite and Saint Honorat, I decided to make Saint Marguerite my first excursion.
The island of St Marguerite (formally known as Lero) is the largest out of the two inhabited Lérins islands, at roughly 3km in width. The island has suffered a turbulent history, with Saracen raids, attacks from pirates or Genoese or Catalan corsairs and being captured by the Spanish for two years during the Thirty Year War in the 17th century.
That is my brief history lesson over! I took my first ever French train from Nice Ville station to Cannes, where I alighted amongst a throng of people. With the Cannes Film Festival still in full swing it was really rather busy. My first stop was the Tourism Office, rather aptly located inbetween the Palais de Festivals and the Casino. After loading up on maps and leaflets I headed out the office and towards the old port.
The boat trip only took 20 minutes even though the sea was rough. The boat did pitch almost alarmingly at some points, so if you are prone to sea sickness I would advise taking some tablets! Sitting on the open section on the back I was able to enjoy watching the copious kite surfers and wind surfers playing on the water.
The moment I stepped onto the island I noticed an almost eerie calm, the hustle and bustle of Cannes left far behind. My first stop was Fort Royal. Not even a five-minute walk from the landing stage it was one of the predominant reasons for this journey. The fort is famed for holding the original Man in The Iron Mask and being a bit of a closet Leonardi di Caprio fan I just had to get a glimpse of the inspiration for the film. I didn’t realize that to enter there is a fee, unless you are a student or under the age of 18, and if you are under the age of 25 there is a reduced rate. I would check with the ticket officer, who speaks English very well, if the museum is open, to be able to enter “the Old Castle” . Unfortunately for me it was not open but I still decided to go in and wander around.
Afterwards, having taken the odd photo, I decided it was time to explore the island wilderness. Walking eastwards on one of the inland paths I felt transported to another time and place, maybe a Narnian island (sorry for my geeky reference!). On my walk around the island I think I crossed a total of 6 people and two very friendly cats. It was like my own private paradise, with a pine and eucalyptus forest protecting the island from the strong winds and rocky coves with turquoise waters.
An afternoon on what felt like an almost deserted island was just the moment of calm needed after a raucous weekend in the city. You could easily spend a whole day here, loosing yourself in the tranquility, sunbathing in one of the isolated coves and enjoying the clear blue waters. My advice is to take good walking shoes, plenty of sun cream and of course a towel and bathing attire. Make sure you know what time the last ferry is so you do not become stranded and take a packed lunch, otherwise there are two snack bars by the landing stage and two restaurants.