Iles de Lerins - Bay of Cannes - Where to moor

Iles de Lerins - Bay of Cannes

Iles de Lérins - Bay of Cannes


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The Iles de Lerins (« Îles de Lérins », as properly spelt in French) is the group of islands that lies just opposite Cannes, in the alignment of the Cap de la Croisette and Port Pierre Canto. The archipelago is made of four islands which are (from the largest to the smallest) Ile Sainte Marguerite, Ile Saint Honorat, Ile de la Tradeliere and Ile Saint Féréol. They are a landmark in the Cote d’Azur’s scenery, visible from the coast from the tip of the Cap d’Antibes all the way to the Esterel heights.


The channel between Sainte Marguerite to and Saint Honorat is a popular anchorage in the area, depending on the weather and wind direction.


It is worth remembering that there is often a strong current, approximately 2 knots which flows from East to West through the channel between St Honnerat and St Marguerite.  This can be upsetting for those trying to sleep overnight because the boats do not know whether to lie to the wind or to the current. This means that boats with small keels lie to the wind and the deep keeled boats lie to the current. The general result is that the boats are usually badly effected by waves as they are not directly on the bow. A kedge will be necessary to stop heavy rolling.


The channels between the tip of the Cap de la Croisette and the two main islands are shallow, with depths ranging from 2 m to 3 m. There are rare occasions when large yachts have run aground in this area. Therefore, though the many boats and yachts cruising back and forth around the islands entertain a sense of confidence, depending on your draft, you should always be cautious. The “Fourmigue” area, which is North-East of the islands, in the middle of Golfe Juan, is much shallower with rocks at water level and made conspicuous with a red and black turret.


Ile Sainte Marguerite, the largest island, stretches from East to West between Pointe de la Convention and Pointe Batéguier (marked by a beacon). It is covered in trees and footpaths running across the island make it a popular destination for excursions and picnics, away from the built-up Riviera. Passenger vessels from Cannes bring many tourists there for the day, especially during the season. On the most Northern tip, a fort bearing the name of the island and often referred to as “Fort Royal”, stands proudly overlooking the town of Cannes. This fortress is famous for being the prison of the mysterious “Man in the Iron Mask”, who lived there in the later part of the 17th century and died in the Bastille in 1703. The fort is nowadays a museum and an aquarium. It is also possible to visit the cell of the mysterious prisoner and imagine what life was like then.


The identity of the Man in the Iron Mask remains a mystery. There are many theories though. The most widespread one, which is used in the recent movie starring Leonardo Di Caprio, suggests that he was the king’s twin brother and therefore his face would have been a threat to the reign of Louis XIV. Some speculate on the fact he may have been the ancestor of Napoleon Bonaparte. MooringSpot will not be able to give you an answer. The only person who ever saw his face was his barber (as he apparently was a “VIP” prisoner) and the secret died with him.


To the South of Sainte Marguerite is the island of Saint Honorat, which has been for centuries the home of monks and as a matter of fact, many saints of Christianity. The monastery was founded as early as the 4th century by Saint Honorat, who chose this location for his remoteness. It is difficult to imagine this in today’s Côte d’Azur, but way back in the 4th century and for many centuries to follow, the southern tip of the island was as remote as could be, with nothing else to contemplate than the vast Mediterranean and the horizon. The monastery resembles more a fort than (very conspicuous) as throughout history the monks’ seclusion made them a prime target for raiders, conquerors and pirates. Among the famous past residents of Saint Honorat, we can name Saint Patrick who lived there before going to Ireland. Perhaps this is why just as in Ireland, there are no snakes on Saint Honorat either.

To the North of the island is a small and extremely shallow port known as “Port des Moines” (Port of the Monks) with only 1 m to 1.5 m depths. Most boats and yachts visiting the island have to anchor outside the port consequently.

The island belongs to the monks of the Cistercian order. Though landing on the island is permitted, when close or on Saint Honorat, you will be expected to behave with consideration towards these monks. For instance, please refrain from being topless or generally disturbing the island’s extremely kind inhabitants in the practice of their faith and daily life.


Photo of the Iles de Lérins - Bay of Cannes :

Photo Shipyard Lerins Islands boats dry and temporarily moored on pontoons




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