Yesterday I wrote about Cannes. A magical place just off the coast of Cannes are the Îles de Lérins, a group of four islands. The largest is Sainte-Marguerite; Saint Patrick was a student at the monastery on Saint-Honorat nearby. The other two are just bumps with trees.
A ferry from the port of Cannes whisks you from luxury to absolute quiet on Sainte-Marguerite in just fifteen minutes. Once there, visit the Fort Royal that dates to the Middle Ages where the mysterious Man in the Iron Mask was held for eleven years. The cells also held many men who had been arrested under the infamous lettres de cachet (letruh de kashay). The king’s guards would show up at the door with a writ bearing his seal (cachet) and the victim would be dragged off without knowing the charges, without a trial, and without any release date. Many died here. It seems incongruous amidst the scent of pines and the song of the cicadas.
The island is heavily forested; the well-marked paths have lots of signs explaining the local flora and fauna. I hoped I would see one of the hedgehogs they promised, but I had no luck. There are beautiful beaches where you won’t need to pay to enjoy the Mediterranean, they way you do for the private beaches of Cannes. It was one of my favorite places on the French Riviera. Unlike its former residents, however, I got to leave on the ferry back to Cannes at the end of the day.