Saint-Honorat

Saint-Honorat Island view

Saint-Honorat Island view

Click on any image to see a larger (1500 x 1000 pixel) version!

On April 5, 2009, a beautiful and balmy Sunday, we took a boat from Cannes to Saint Honorat, the smaller of the two main Iles de Lérins located about a mile off-shore. We had not been to Saint-Honorat in several years, usually preferring the larger Sainte-Marguerite with its nature preserve and fort. But, as we were reminded, Saint-Honorat has a lot going for it, too, for example... fewer visitors! How is this possible? Simple: the monastery that owns the island limits the number and size of the boats that are allowed to bring tourists over.

The main attraction is the abbey that was founded in A.D. 410 by Saint Honoratus, so monks have been living, working, and praying on the island for just about sixteen centuries, surely an impressive fact. Today, there are roughly 30 Cistercian monks on the island; they have taken a vow of silence, and visitors to the abbey are asked to speak in whispers, or better still, not to speak at all while on the grounds of the monastery. Guests are also requested to wear proper attire (at least shorts and T-shirts) and refrain from smoking when on the island. Next to the Lérins abbey is the fortified monastery, an imposing structure that was built in 1070 A.D. The part with the stairs leading to an entrance is a recent add-on: access to the original was by means of a ladder through an opening fairly high up; the ladder could then be pulled up which made the job of a would-be conqueror more difficult. Sneaky, these monks!

You can use Google Earth to visit Saint-Honorat yourself; just enter the coordinates 43°30'26.94" N, 7°2'47.34" E into the program's "Fly-To" box.



Along the north shore

Lush vegetation

The altar in one of several chapels

Along the north shore

Lush vegetation

The altar in one of several chapels



Looking towards the mainland...

...or out to sea

Every tree is different!

Looking towards the mainland...

...or out to sea

Every tree is different!



The 'chapelle Saint Caprais'...

...was restored in 1993

The western tip of the island

The chapelle Saint Caprais...

...was restored in 1993

The western tip of the island



Looking south towards Africa

Cactus flowers

Notre Dame de Lérins

Looking south towards Africa

Cactus flowers

Notre Dame de Lérins



Inside the arches...

...and outside

Blooming wisterias (thanks, S.W.)

Inside the arches...

...and outside

Blooming wisterias (thanks, S.W.)



The abbey gardens

More arches

Seagull

The abbey gardens

More arches

Seagull



The fortified monastery

Looking back towards the abbey

Inside the fortress

The fortified monastery

Looking back towards the abbey

Inside the fortress



View from the top

Clear Mediterranean waters

View from the top

View from the top

Clear Mediterranean waters

View from the top



The abbey seen from above

Back at the bottom

Following the south shore

The abbey seen from above

Back at the bottom

Following the south shore



The eastern tip of the island

Walking back to the pier...

...past vineyards and...

The eastern tip of the island

Walking back to the pier...

...past vineyards and...



...the tiny harbor

View from the pier

The 'Alizé', our ride back to Cannes

...the tiny harbor

View from the pier

The Alizé, our ride back to Cannes




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