/ / The island of Saint-Marguerite: photo description (Ile Sainte-Marguerite)

The island of Saint-Marguerite: photo description (Ile Sainte-Marguerite)

The island of Sainte Marguerite is the larger of the two Islands of Lerins, rising out of the sea about a kilometer to the South of Boulevard de La Croisette. The piece of land is small, but incredibly beautiful. One episode of his story is familiar to all: it is here that languished the most famous prisoner of France - the Iron Mask.

An island with a length of three kilometers and a width of 900 meters in the VI century BC was populated by Ligurian pirates: it was convenient to control the sea lanes. In the II century BC the Romans arrived, Pliny the Elder wrote about the Roman city and port on the island. But in the early fifth century because of the earthquake, the lérins Islands are partially dipped into the sea, disappeared the only source of fresh water, the Romans left.

In the middle ages the crusaders built here a chapel of St. Margaret of Antioch. Perhaps the island got its current name. However, there is a legend that called him by name the other Margaret, sister of St. Honorata, in the year 410 had settled on a nearby island and founded there the great monastery. Scientific evidence of the legend is not.

In 1612, the owner of the island became the Duke de Chevreuse - he began to build the Royal Fort. At the end of XVII century, Fort Royal was turned into a well-guarded prison for state criminals. In 1687 to 1698, the year I was in the conclusion of the man in the iron mask, whose name is still unknown.

To get to the island is by boat from the Old port. There is a tiny village (two dozen fishermen's houses), Fort Royal and turned into a youth hostel, there is a sea Museum. The main exhibit of the Fort, where he spent twelve years in the Iron Mask. Nearby are two cemeteries - veterans of the Crimean war and soldiers of WWII who died in North Africa.

On the East and West ends of the island you can see the interesting fortifications of the late eighteenth century: a furnace to produce hardened cores. They were put there in 1793 on the orders of General Bonaparte, the future Emperor Napoleon. In the furnace core is heated to a red glow, to the guns they had dragged up a special forceps. Once in attacking the ship, molten core caused the fire. Seeing the smoke of a furnace, captains preferred to avoid a fight.

The island is covered with varied and beautiful and fragrant forest - there are pine trees, the oldest in Europe eucalyptus, mastic pistachio trees, in the undergrowth of the Heather, Myrtle, broom. There is a rich Botanical garden, but now it is private owned by Indian billionaire Vijay Malli. Due to the winds and storms, the trees are curved in the most extraordinary way. The coast is rocky, there is a convenient bathing coves with pebble beaches. Across the island is a Hiking trail any kind of transport service. The island also can not smoke, but some places are allowed to have picnics. Grab a bite to eat in the two local restaurants.

The only sound that violates any local silence is deafening cicadas. It is impossible to believe that just a mile away the noise of La Croisette.