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On the small island of Ile Saint-Honorat sits a fortified monastery founded in the 5th century. Today, it is still home to a community of Cistercian monks who cultivate grapes and produce and sell wines and liqueurs. Visit the ancient religious complex, tour vineyards and discover the island’s scenic beauty.
Ile Saint-Honorat is named after the saint who established the monastic community. It is about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) off the Cannes coastline. Getting there involves a short ferry ride across the bay. Once you have docked, walk south for a few minutes to reach Lérins Abbey.
Visit the church where mass is celebrated every day, and then stroll around the fortified compound. See the remains of an 11th-century tower, once part of the medieval defenses against attacks from the Saracens. Go to the cloister of the 12th and 13th century and tour the vineyards. Sample some of the wines that are produced here. These wines include varieties made from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes.
After spending some time at the abbey, see what the rest of the island has in store. A gentle stroll around Ile Saint-Honorat can take up to 2 hours. Stop by pebble beaches and hike through forested areas. Along some of the island’s paths you will find a number of picnic tables.
On your way, you will come across several old chapels. Among these are the octagonal Saint-Pierre Chapel and the ruins of Saint-Michel Chapel. You may also see ball ovens. These were stone furnaces used to heat up cannonballs that were then fired at approaching ships to set their sails on fire.
The island can be visited year-round. The ferry journey takes about 15 minutes and departs from Cannes Old Port. Dress modestly for your visit to the abbey and note that smoking is not permitted on the island.
Although close to Cannes, Ile Saint-Honorat is a peaceful contrast to the buzz of the glitzy Riviera city.
Accommodation in Ile Saint-Honorat
Cannes Old Town is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Ile Saint-Honorat, and is the closest place with accommodation options featured on Expedia's booking website. Two of the more luxurious options here are the Florella Croisette and the Five Seas Hotel Cannes If you are seeking something slightly cheaper, the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic and the Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso, Cannes are also worth checking out.
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