L'île Saint-Honorat

by Bert Schwarz

A day off! Unbelievable. Our friend from the press office in Grasse suggested to visit L'île Saint-Honorat, a small island off Cannes. The journey to the island was easy. The only way is by boat from the ferry terminal at Quai Laubeuf on the west side of Cannes. The boats are operated centrally by the island administration and tickets are available either on site or online on their website.

L'île Saint-Honorat

Story, Camera, Editor : Bert Schwarz

© travel-magazine TV 2020

Some historical background.

Ile Saint Honorat is named after the Saint Honoratus of Arles, who landed on this uninhabited island at the beginning of the 5th century AD. At first he came to the island to be alone, but stupidly for him the news of his presence spread that his disciples quickly joined him and led him to found a first monastery, which quickly became a powerful regional power. Legend has it that even St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, studied on the island for a time.

During the last decades the island has become a tourist paradise for those seeking peace and quiet, and it is even possible to "come down" here for a few days and enjoy nature, just a few kilometers from the hustle and bustle of Cannes. Also the viticulture has developed strongly since the 90s of the last century.

L'Île de Saint Honorat © Bert Schwarz
L'Île de Saint Honorat © Bert Schwarz

To preserve the atmosphere of the island, the monks decided to limit the number of visitors. When we were there at the end of the season, we didn't notice this, but we read that it was impossible to combine a trip to Île Saint Honorat with a trip to Île Sainte Marguerite without having our own boat or returning to Cannes.

L'Île de Saint Honorat © Bert Schwarz
L'Île de Saint Honorat © Bert Schwarz

Once you are halfway around the island, visit the beautiful Cistercian abbey near the southern tip, which was consecrated in 1088, although of the original abbey from the 11th and 12th centuries only the medieval cloister remains, where the monks still live. The spectacular main church, set in beautiful Mediterranean gardens full of palm trees and flowers, was built between 1874 and 1878.

Behind the abbey is probably the most spectacular sight of the island, the fortified monastery. It was built to protect the strategically located island and its monastic community from invaders, especially the Saracens in the 10th century.

Today, like all the other attractions on the island, the entrance is free and although not everything is in great condition. The main structure of the tower is definitely worth a visit to understand how the monks used to live and protect themselves. Since we arrived there "totally stupid" and without any background information, we were - luckily - provided with some sandwiches and something to drink. It turned out to be a good idea, as we thought that the prices in the restaurant on the island were a bit on the high side. Well, the homemade food was not enough, so we bought some sandwiches in the store opposite the restaurant. The food was also improvable: a lot of money was wasted.

Too bad, actually.

L'Île de Saint Honorat © Bert Schwarz