While I was on vacation in Cannes for a week I visited St. Marguerite Island a small Island near Cannes which is part of a group of Islands called the Lérins Islands (Îles de Lérins in French). Even though I visited Cannes regularly since I was born (the first time my parents brought me here I was barely a few months old) I never visited neither St. Marguerite nor St. Honorat which is the other big island of the group. A few years ago I visited St. Honorat for the first time and was fascinated by what I saw. St. Honorat has since the fifth century been home to a community of monks and is named after its founder Saint Honoratus. I will come back to St. Honorat in a future post though since today I want to focus on St. Marguerite which I visited for the very first time this week.
General information and history
St. Marguerite is approximately 3 km in length and 900 m across and is first known to have been inhabited during Roman times, then known by the name Lero (while St. Honorat was known as Lerina). The island was probably renamed by crusaders, in honor of Saint Margaret of Antioch. During the Thirty Years’ War the Spanish took the islands from 1635-1637 until Richelieu sent a fleet which reconquered the islands.
St. Marguerite is home to a variety of different legends. One says that the legendary Man in the Iron Mask was once detained in a cell in the fort of St. Marguerite until his personal guard was transferred to become governor of the Bastille in Paris. Both of them left the island in 1698 and the legendary prisoner died in 1703.
Another legend says that Saint Honoratus actually had a sister named Marguerite who wanted to come visit him on St. Honorat. But since women weren’t allowed on this island Saint Honoratus promised his sister that he would come visit her once every year, when the almond trees bloomed. Not accepting that she could only see her brother once a year Marguerite prayed until all of a sudden on the island next to St. Honorat an almond tree grew which bloomed every month. The legend further says that Saint Honoratus had become much more open and less ascetic as a result of this miracle.
A third legend says that Saint Honoratus and his sister Marguerite had fought a dragon on the island who after he had been defeated by the Saints flew towards the continent to die in a place which is known today as Draguignan.
A last legend says that after Saint Honoratus arrived on this island he found it to be infested by snakes and to get rid of them he summoned a giant wave (because he’s just awesome like that) and managed to stand on top of it by holding on to a leaf of a palm tree. This after the legend explains also why the leaf of the palm tree is today the symbol of Cannes.
My visit and thoughts
Because I took the ship to the island at a pretty late time I didn’t have the time to explore the whole island I actually only saw a little part of it but I have to admit that I was very impressed by what I saw. The nature of this island is just gorgeous. It is all very wild and nearly untouched by humans (the forest on the island is also under protection by the government). The atmosphere on the island was very romantic and if I’ve had more time I would have loved to sit down on one of the stone benches and write a poem about it. On the island there is also some kind of lake which is completely surrounded by fences to protect the wildlife but you could observe it all from a distance and it was just absolutely astonishing. The pure peace that laid in this place, the silence which was only disturbed by the gentle swoosh of the waves just embraced my whole soul and for a little while I was taken in a complete state of rêverie just like the French writer Jean-Jaques Rousseau once described it. I’m looking eagerly forward to visiting this place again in the future but then a little bit earlier in the day.
Thanks a lot for reading this week’s post! I really appreciate every single reader and if you’re interested you can read some of my other articles as well. If you want you can share my posts with others I’d really appreciate it. You can also find me on Facebook as well as Twitter (@VitoVolpe9). I hope you have a great week and I see you next Sunday for an all new post in German or in two weeks for a new post in English!