The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

A beach-a-week: île Sainte-Marguerite

Continuing on our tour of beaches on the French Riviera, this week's destination isn't really one beach but a whole island of beaches.  Ile Sainte-Marguerite is located just off Cannes, easily reached by a 15 minute ferry ride, and bursting with tiny rocky bays, magnificent umbrella pines, ancient eucalypus forests and one long sandy beach.  The majority of the island is covered in forest, which is a protected domaine and a haven of calm as no there's no traffic, just walking paths.

beach on Ste Marguerite island near Cannes Côte dAzur

Sainte-Marguerite island together with its smaller neighbour St-Honorat are collectively called the îles de Lérins and they both make lovely destinations for day trips not only for their beaches, but to visit forts, monasteries and a former prison....  But that's for another time, today I'm just showing you the beaches...

kids on île ste Marguerite

thanks to my friend Darren for this photo

On arrival at the ferry jetty we usually walk straight across the island to the far side.  Sainte-Marguerite is about 3 kms long and 900m wide, so easily managable even with young children and a picnic.  We always take a picnic but there are a couple of restaurants and 2 snack bars near the jetty.  If you're visiting off season it's worth checking the opening times of the cafés as they aren't open all year round.  You can find information on ferry times and restaurants here.

beach Sainte Marguerite island Cannes

Most of the coast of the island is made up of little craggy rocky coves and the further you walk from the ferry jetty the less people you'll see.  Even in high season you can be lucky and find a cove to yourself. The little beaches are pebbly so come prepared with appropriate footware if like me you have sensitive feet, but the beauty of these pebbles means that the water is crystal clear - no sand churning around. You will find beaches with rockpools for crabbing and rocks to jump off.  If you can carry them I recommend bringing nets for kids and masks and snorkels too.

rocks on ile ste marguerite

Near the ferry jetty, to the right as you get off the boat, there is a long sandy beach with a boardwalk.  It is home to a small sailing club, faces Cannes and is the closest beach with least walking so there are always more people about and it is not as tranquil as the little coves elsewhere.  

boardwalk on Ste Marguerite island

We go to Ste-Marguerite in all seasons and have even swum here in January/February as the coves are sheltered and shallow, resulting in not-too-freezing water!  It is wonderfully peaceful, far from any traffic, with only the noise of the sea, or wind in the trees and cicadas in summer to keep you company and yet so close to Cannes.

february on ile ste marguerite

To get to île Ste-Marguerite, the easiest is to drive and park in the carpark by the ferry terminal in Cannes (parking Laubeuf, quai Laubeuf).  Alternatively take the train and walk from the station to quai Laubeuf. Ferries run about every half hour out to the island during high season and about once an hour at other times.  There are less boats back to Cannes and even in high summer they don't run late so do check the time of the last boat before you leave the jetty.  There's nowhere to sleep if you miss the last ferry, so it'll be a night under the stars, which might or might not be what you feel like!ferry to ile Ste Marguerite

The ferry is a little pricey in my opinion, but it's worth it.  Even though it's only 15 minutes there's something fun about having to take a boat and chidren usually love it.  Some of the ferries have glass bottoms and some have these excellent lookouts seen above.  Taking a ferry makes it seem like a real adventure for the younger members of the family and under 5s travel free.  By the way, you can save a Euro by booking online!

umbrella pines on Ste Marguerite

evening on beach ile ste Marguerite

Do you like island beaches?  What about ferries?  Would you like to visit Sainte-Marguerite island?

For more beach choices see my round-up of 12 favourite beaches on the Côte d'Azur


Travel Monkey
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  • Guest
    James Standish Saturday, 20 May 2017

    Thanks Phoebe - really enjoyed your pics and description. Will pop over there in July if all goes to plan :)

  • Guest
    Andrea Egger Tuesday, 31 May 2016

    thanks Phoebe for this wonderful article - Sainte-Marguerite island is a 'must see place' on our trip to South of France - thanks to you!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Sunday, 05 June 2016

    So glad you liked it Andrea!

  • Phoebe
    Phoebe Friday, 04 September 2015

    Enjoyed reading this, very good stuff, Good images,i really liked your post,awesome...

  • Guest
    clara Thursday, 03 September 2015

    We had one of those on the boat trip we did in the Florida Keys (It was also a glass-bottomed boat). Great fun. And I'm with you - clear water is definitely preferable, even if it does mean stones. This looks like a perfect place for children - in fact, like the Devon coast but a LOT warmer! By the way, do you take a picnic or Le Picnic? #MondayEscapes

  • Guest
    Phoebe Thursday, 03 September 2015

    yes we always take picnics Clara, it's the ideal place for one.

  • Guest
    My Travel Monkey Wednesday, 02 September 2015

    Er, yes please I would like to go to Ste-Marguerite now! I love the fact that you can have the adventure of the ferry - kids love that! As well as being able to move away from the crowds to find your own private spot. I could happily spend hours here. I really do need to come to France don't I? Lovely pictures - the kids are so cute. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 02 September 2015

    Er, yes, you do! It's high time you booked a trip to Lou Messugo Ting!! :o

  • Guest
    Jen @ 4128 miles Monday, 31 August 2015

    Wow the pictures are stunning! #mondayescapes

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 02 September 2015

    Thanks Jen, it's not hard when the subject is so beautiful!

  • Guest
    Mary Ann G Saturday, 29 August 2015

    Looks absolutely charming! I love the "lookout" crew on the ferry. You can see the kids are totally captivated! Now I realy want to go here. Must check out the island on my next trip. Thanks for the imformative article and great photos.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 02 September 2015

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Mary Ann, I hope you get to île Ste Marguerite soon.

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