Mediterranean islands

Mediterranean islands

  • Coast of Provence

Île d’If (Département 13)
This tiny island facing Marseille owes its fame to its castle. The old fortress was transformed into a prison and took on mythical proportions after it was used by Alexandre Dumas as the backdrop to his novel The Count of Monte Cristo.
Access from Marseille (20min) throughout the year.
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Île des Embiez (Département 83)
Population 600+ – Surface area 95ha – Highest point 63m
When Paul Ricard purchased the island of Les Embiez in 1958, he was convinced that he had discovered the best that nature had to offer in terms of idyllic landscapes and getting away from it all. The only buildings that remained on the island at the time were an abandoned fort and a ruined tower, once used by local inhabitants to keep watch for pirates approaching from the south. Ricard promised that he would do all that he could to protect this natural paradise and to make it a refuge for those looking to recharge their batteries far away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. Today, the island enjoys an international reputation with yachtsmen, deep-sea divers and all those who love the sea. It is also home to the Paul Ricard Oceanographic Institute and boasts its own aquarium. Proof of a promise which has not been broken!
Access from Le Brusc (10min) throughout the year.
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Îles d’Hyères (Département 83): Also known as the Îles d’Or or "Golden Islands", these three gems in the Mediterranean lie off the coast at Hyères. The Romans called them the "islands of the East", perhaps because of their exotic feel.

Population 200 – Surface area 12.54km² – 30km of coastline – Highest point 144m
Porquerolles is the largest of the Îles d’Hyères. It forms a broken arch lying on an east-west axis. The northern coast boasts sheltered sandy beaches lined with pine trees, heather and scented myrtle, while the southern coast is wilder and steeper and similar to Port-Cros island in character. The small village of Porquerolles, situated in a small harbour, was built some hundred years ago by the military authorities.
Access from La Tour Fondue, Presqu’île de Giens (20min) throughout the year.
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Population 40 – Surface area 700ha – 4km long x 3km wide
Situated between Porquerolles and the Île du Levant, Port-Cros is the smallest of the "Golden Islands". It has no fewer than five forts which bear witness to the island's important defensive role in the past. Today, two of these are open to the public.
Since 1963, Port-Cros has formed part of a Marine National Park which covers an area which extends 600m from its shores, providing an important habitat for numerous land and marine species typical of this part of the Mediterranean.
Access from Le Lavandou (20min) and Hyères (1hr) throughout the year.
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Île du Levant
Population 150 – Surface area 900ha – 21km of coastline
The Île du Levant is roughly the same size as the Île de Porquerelles, forming a rocky spine which is 8km long and 2km wide, with just one-tenth of the island accessible. Covered with delightful and dense vegetation (a profusion of giant yuccas, agaves, dwarf palm trees, oleander and bamboo), the island truly resembles a sort of earthly paradise as you approach it.
Access from Le Lavandou (35min) and Hyères (1hr 15min) throughout the year.
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  • Côte d’Azur

Îles de Lérins (Département 06): This archipelago comprises the four islands of Sainte-Marguerite, Saint-Honorat, La Tradelière and Saint-Ferréol, the last two of which are uninhabited. The islands lie just a stone's throw from the Boulevard de la Croisette, facing the Baie de Cannes.

Île Sainte-Marguerite
Surface area 2.1km² – 7km of coastline
This is the largest of the four Lérins islands which lie just off the coast at Cannes, separated from the mainland by a shallow 1.1km-wide strait. Prohibited to motorised vehicles and criss-crossed by numerous forestry tracks laid out in straight lines, Sainte-Marguerite is also circled by a footpath. The only large building, the Fort Royal, is a huge architectural complex which is open to the public. With a history dating back to Roman times, this fascinating building was once the prison where the legendary Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned for ten years – both the identity of this strange character and the reasons for his incarceration remain a mystery. 
Access from Cannes (10min) throughout the year.
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Île de Saint-Honorat
Surface area 0.37km² – 3km of coastline
This island is smaller than Île Sainte-Marguerite and lies further from the mainland. Just 1,500m long and 400m wide, the shoreline of this island is lower and wilder than its neighbour, from which it is separated by a narrow channel known as the "Plateau du Milieu". Saint-Honorat has long been an important monastic centre: it is home to the Cistercian abbey of Les Lérins, which lies in the southern part of the island. The monastery still has an active religious community and welcomes visitors who come here on retreats in search of peace and tranquillity.
Access from Cannes (20min) throughout the year.
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