From the Quai Saint Pierre, Golfe-Juan, catch a Riviera Lines ferry to the island of Sainte-Marguerite at a cost of 16.50€ for a return ticket. There are several departure times from each destination but these vary throughout the year. Check the following website link for specific times: http://www.riviera-lines.com/1/2/7/ile_sainte_marguerite_.html
The cruise to the island is extremely pleasant and starts via Juan-Les-Pins and then it’s a forty minute trip on one of their comfortable boats. The one we caught yesterday was named the Azuréene which was built in 1971 and holds up to 166 passengers. It has a mix of indoor and outdoor seating to satisfy all.
The boat powers along at a fair speed with the coastlines of Golfe-Juan, Cannes Californie, and Cannes on its starboard side. The views of the many apartment blocks and spectacular houses take your breath away.
On the approach of the island you feel as though you are stepping back into history as the Fort Royal looms into view. It stands at the top of a sheer cliff face; at its base the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean lap idly against the rock walls. The boat’s skipper advises passengers of the legend of the man in the iron mask and points out the cell window appertaining to the unfortunate individual.
Upon docking at the designated quay you disembark and make your way to one of the many sites available. Having taken the boat from Golfe-Juan at 10am we arrived at 11am (there was a slight delay leaving Golfe-Juan as a large yacht was trying to exit the port before us). As the museum on the island closes at noon we opted to view it before lunch. Walking amongst the ruins of the ramparts the views of the Esterel Mountains of south-east France in the distance behind the city of Cannes and beyond are magnificent. The entry into the Museum of the Sea is 6€ for an adult. To the left of the main entrance are several prison cells as well as the figurehead of an ancient Italian merchant vessel. To the right of the main entrance is the actual museum which features items recovered from ancient Roman and Saracen shipwrecks, and contains artifacts, such as floor mosaics and pottery suggesting the island was once occupied by the Romans.
There are two restaurants on the island and a couple of kiosks for snacks. The restaurant La Guerite is accessible by some numerous steep uneven steps which are located on the left hand side of the fort looking at it from the sea. It has a beautiful ambiance and is very secluded. The staff are well dressed in uniforms of the matelot style: striped shirts and white pants. The site also boasts a private beach where for 20€ per day you can hire a sun-lounger and a towel. The menu is quite varied and prices are slightly on the high side, but keeps with the prestigious feel of the location. The L’Escale restaurant is to be found near the quay and is far easier to access. The food here is excellent but more reasonably priced. I would recommend either the grilled sardines or the moules marinières (mussels in a creamy onion broth), and as dessert the café gourmand.
After lunch why not walk off the meal with a small trek around the island or at least part of it – depending on how much time you have before the ferries stop running (the last ferry leaves the island at 6pm). There is a wonderful nature reserve with lagoon and countless migratory water birds. Alternatively sit by the water’s edge and admire the beautiful vista of Cannes in the distance or go for a swim.
When the day is over unwind on yet another relaxing cruise returning once again to Golfe-Juan or Juan-les-Pins aboard the ferry.
RLB – Tomewriter