Être d’un calme olympien

iles de lerinsIt’s almost summer, and you may still be thinking about where to go on vacation. The beautiful south of France is a major destination. When I spent a little time there a few years ago, one of my favorite places was les îles de Lérins. Visible from the crowded beaches of Cannes, like two pearls floating in a turquoise sea, are two small islands that are a mere 15 minutes by ferry. saint honoratThe smallest, Saint-Honorat, is a paradise on earth that has belonged to Cistercian monks for sixteen centuries. Twenty-two monks live there from the proceeds of their grape vines, their olive trees, and from tourism. In the summer, 400 people visit the island each day. In addition to wine and olive oil, the monks cultivate serenity, beauty, and respect for nature. The calm is astounding, so near the bustle of the coast. Of those 400 day-visitors are 35 who intend to stay longer. They have come on retreat, to rest, to reflect. Sounds tempting. marguerite2Facing Saint-Honorat is the much larger l’île Sainte-Maguerite. It attracts ten times the daily visitors of its monastic neighbor – 4,000 – 5,000 a day in the summer – yet it is still incredibly calm and quiet. Covered in pines and crisscrossed by creeks, it’s a nature-lovers paradise. A billionaire lives here in a magnificent property surrounded by a botanical garden. Still, he’s left plenty of room to roam. One end of the island houses a prison and fort from the ancien régime and the other has a lovely, secluded beach. Le masque de fer, or the Man in the Iron Mask, was imprisoned here for 11 years during the reign of Louis XIV. In between are trails on which hedgehogs scuttle about. margueriteThe key word for les îles de Lérins is calm. The idiom être d’un calme olympien (etruh duhn kalm oh-lam-pea-n) is the equivalent to the English expression “cool as a cucumber.” If calm is what you’re looking for on a vacation, look no further. 5191nKyG7+L__SL75_Top 10 Provence & Côte d’Azur

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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