Just a 15-minute boat ride off the coast of Cannes, you will find Ile Saint Marguerite. Ile Saint Marguerite houses a little fishing village, a bird sanctuary, and a lot of history. There are ferries that take you to the island from Cannes hourly, and it is a beautiful ride. When you first disembark on the island, you will notice how clear and blue the water is. It’s pristine, and it is beautiful. The paths on the island are pretty extensive and spread out, however, it is well-mapped and labelled. We first took the second left up the path, which passed a cute little restaurant. It led us up to an extremely old grouping of buildings that laid just outside an old prison, which is now a museum.
The Old Prison
This prison once held “The Man in the Iron Mask”. So, that’s what brings many to the island. The story of the man is real, but, as the legend states, his identity was never really uncovered. In fact, there are many rumors as to his true identity.
The prison cells were spacious and fascinating. Most had murals painted on the walls, though they were very faded. And each had a tiny barred window overlooking the sea. The old building has very clear, French history, however, the museum also speculated that the land was once inhabited by the Romans. They found items and clues left around the island that show that this was once a booming Roman civilization with its own irrigation system. As the Roman empire died out, somehow it was lost overtime, leaving small remnants around the island- most of which were on display in the museum.
From there, I took a forest-filled path to the other side of the island. The beaches on that side, I was told, were breathtaking. They did not disappoint. I found sea caves, many rocky beaches, and a few places to sit and meditate in peace. It was a true paradise, and I couldn’t help but soak in the peace.
The other end of the island had a bird sanctuary, and you could hear a variety of birds chirping and cawing all around you as you walked past.
If you’re in Cannes and you want to get away and find peace, I suggest a visit to Ile Saint Marguerite. It was one of the most calming places I’ve been to despite its controversial history.