Just 15 minutes by ferry from Cannes, you’ll find the Iles de Lerins. When you want to escape the bustle and glitz of Cannes, a daytrip to one of the tranquil islands is a great soother.
On the Ile Saint-Honorat, you’ll find the monastery of the Lérins Abbey and the fort with wonderful views and its a place with a feeling of great tranquility where olive trees and vines grow and the forest canopy provides welcome shade.
The island was uninhabited until Saint Honoratus established a monastery around the year 410. He wanted to live as a hermit, but was joined by followers and formed a monastic community. In the Middle Ages the island became a popular place of pilgrimage.
In 1635 the monks were expelled by the Spanish. Two years later it became once again French property, and the monks returned to the island. In 1787 the monastery was dismantled. The island was owned by the state which sold it to a wealthy actress.
In 1859 the Bishop of Fréjus bought the island as he wanted to establish a religious community there. A community of Cistercian monks was established, which exists to this day.
Nowadays, the island is home to about 25 Cistercian monks. They produce wine from eight hectares of vineyard. They also produce a local speciality, the Lerina liquor, as well as honey.
What to see on Ile Saint-Honorat
You can visit the 15th-century fortified monastery but the modern monastery is only open to people who wish to enter it as a retreat.
There are chapels and bays with beautiful views. A couple of restaurants will tempt you to pass a few hours enjoying the ambience and the dishes, or take a picnic, there are plenty of places to spread out your table cloth.
This island is a haven for meditation. Many say they experience an intense feeling of well-being. It’s a place with opportunities to cut yourself off from the world for a while. A lovely island to escape from busy daily life and relax for a few hours!
Ile Saint Honorat is separated from Ile Saint Marguerite by just 600m of water, another lovely island that’s well worth a visit.
By Darina Nykl who lives in Holland where she works in a hospital and is an author. She blogs about the stories she is writing which are mostly set in Amsterdam, Paris, Provence and the Cote d’Azur, places that inspire her: darinanykl.com