04 August 2015

Cannes: Excursion to the Île Sainte-Marguerite

When in Cannes for the summer, I tend to spend as much time as possible on the beach. There are plenty of good public beaches in Cannes itself, my favourite for swimming and sunbathing being Plage Zamenhof, which is on the eastern end of the main stretch of the Croisette. Sometimes, though, it's nice to escape the town and head for one of the islands.

The Îles de Lérins are two small islands — Île Sainte-Marguerite and the even smaller Île Saint-Honorat — just over a kilometre off the bay of Cannes. There are frequent ferries to both islands from the main port in Cannes, just round the bay from the Palais des Festivals, which cost about €14 return. Sainte-Marguerite has a fort (whose most famous historical prisoner is the Man in the Iron Mask), and plenty of leafy, pine-shaded trails and secluded, rocky coves to explore. Saint-Honorat has a famous monastery, which you can visit and which sells wine and liqueur made on the island.

I've been to both islands before but on this trip to Sainte-Marguerite, we didn't see much of it. We caught a taxi-boat from Port Pierre Canto, which is closer to my my parents' end of town, which arrived at Sainte-Marguerite ten minutes later. The boat dropped us off by the jetty of La Guérite, a small seafood restaurant and beach club that sits under the island's Fort Royal. We reserved our sun loungers at the beach and then went for a lovely long al fresco lunch looking out onto the Bay of Cannes, where all the yachts had come to play.

We had a glass of rosé to start — well, a mojito in my case — and then considered the menu. Unsurprisingly, fish featured quite prominently, but for my starter, I ordered the grilled peppers, which were beautifully marinated in a sharp, flavoursome sauce and served with pitta in a chic pinwheel design. I also sampled some of my mum's tuna carpaccio, and my dad's prawns with crispy angel hair, which were all delicious.

For my main course, I had to go for the grilled lobster, which was bloody lovely: juicy and so fresh. We had a couple of veggie side dishes, including some delicious asparagus heads, but really that lobster was just stunning!

I didn't really have room for a pudding, but I made room for a deconstructed piña colada: pineapple granita, coconut sorbet, dried pineapple and lime juice. It was sweet, sharp and refreshing and just the kind of pudding I needed.

After a wonderful lunch, we relaxed in the sun for a bit and went for a few swims in the sea — trying to avoid the constant stream of incoming taxi-boats and the jet-packer (jet-packing is the new jet-skiing for the super-rich, it seems).

Eventually, it was time to return to Cannes and we commandeered another taxi-boat back home. The journey was even bumpier on the way back but still fun and with gorgeous views over the town, the Esterel mountains and the evening sunshine. If you fancy a cheap day out on Île Sainte-Marguerite, you'd be better off catching a ferry and bringing a picnic, but if you would like a really luxurious — but casual — day of good food and relaxation by the sea, La Guérite is definitely worth a look.

La Guérite. Ile Sainte Marguerite, Cannes, 06400. Website. Twitter. My parasol photo on their Instagram.

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