“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over”


Nr 117. Cannes

We left the Bay of Saint-Tropez and sailed to Cannes. We have been in Cannes before, famous for the ‘Palais des Festivals et des Congrès’ where the Film Festival is held every May, but we experienced a few surprises there now that we would see it from the waterfront!

We visited the city of Cannes, we left our catamaran in the bay area in front of Cannes and took our dinghy to visit the city.

Now in July we notice that it is getting quite warm. Walking through the elegant city, Cannes is a really chic seaside resort, was very nice and at the same time very warm with those tall buildings.

14th of July

“Quatorze Juillet” is an important day for the French and has since become a National Holiday: the start of the French Revolution in 1789 when the Bastille was stormed. It is now also an important symbolic festival celebrating the French values: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. I have spent many summer holidays in France, but never on the 14th of July, so that we could now see the famous fireworks I was happy! And this became a special version, because pontoons with fireworks were laid down off the coast of Cannes, so that the largest fireworks could be seen both from the shore and from the boats in the water. It would start at 10 p.m., we were ready at 2 p.m., so that we would have a good spot. More and more boats arrived, so at 9.30 pm it looked like this around us, very nice:

The fireworks were spectacular and especially when you are relatively close from the roof of your boat, the explosions and the light really come at you!

The islands of Cannes – Les Îles de Lérins

We had heard from other sailors that you really had to visit the 2 islands below Cannes, because it was so idyllic. We asked a bit more and it turned out that you would be very protected anyway on the ‘Plateau du mileu’ = between the 2 islands, where it was only 3 meters deep and a good sandy bottom, in this crystal clear water the azure color was clearly visible.

It was indeed beautiful, here’s a movie as we lay at anchor, thanks to our friend Marco Clazing who used his drone to film us. As you can see, we weren’t the only boat here this summer:


The lower island is the smallest, Saint-Honorat, it is 1.5 kilometers long and 400 meters wide. When we looked closely we saw through the trees that there was a building on it. It turns out that this island has been inhabited since the 5th century by monks who have had their own abbey here since the 11th century, growing and selling wine. Of course we had to take a closer look at that.

We walked on the island and also visited the abbey and saw the vineyards and the shop. Very beautiful, especially with all the flowers and plants that are carefully maintained.

The 20 monks who live there now belong to the Order of the Cistercians, they live permanently on the island and are between the ages of 35 and 90 years. They come from France, Italy, Belgium, Spain and Cameroon.

At 4.00 am the bell rings and they get up, at 8.30 pm it is the end of the day. There are 7 times determined when they pray together and in between they work, study and rest.

Discretion is also requested when visiting the island: dress neatly and observe silence when entering the church.

We also went into the shop, here you can see the entrance and where the wine is sold, just like lavender oil, olive oil and other regional products.

There is also a restaurant on the island that only serves lunches and where we also had a cool drink a few times with a view of the beautiful blue water and the boats.

The water temperature here is now 28 degrees (unbelievable!), so the water is great for swimming and also cooling with an outside temperature of 35 degrees. Because the water is so clear and shallow you could also see a lot of fish with a snorkel and even a small manta ray:

Also wonderful to BBQ on the boat with our friends Bianca and Marco Clazing, in such a sheltered environment. People from the boats around you are swimming or playing music. Real holiday feeling!

Customs raid

Suddenly our peace was disturbed, because we saw a customs boat sailing towards us: ‘why can’t we see your boat name?’. Uhm, our paddleboard is hanging in front of it… ‘And what nationality are you?’. Uhm, we didn’t put our flag outside… When they heard ‘the Netherlands’, they wanted to come on board :). We had to show all our documents (passports, boat ownership papers, boat insurance papers, logbook) to check if we were really 2 happy tourists and not something else.

We received about 30 questions (what was your last port, what will be your next destination, etc) and after 15 minutes they left again. As I wrote, we had some surprises in the area of Cannes 😉. This was interesting to experience!

Saint Marguerite

We also visited the North Island. That is much larger (3.2 kilometers long and 900 meters wide) and has more restaurants. There is no rubbish bin on either island: as a visitor you have to take all your rubbish with you. Beautiful hiking trails have been laid out, including the Allee de Eucalyptus:

Nice views from the island.

Man in the Iron Mask

There is also an old royal fort on this island from the 17th century when The Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned here for 7 years. He is one of the most famous prisoners in French history, no one knows who he is because no one has ever seen his face. During the time of Louis XVI, he was locked up in various prisons with a black velvet mask (Voltaire turned it into an iron mask in his book) and he died in La Bastille in Paris.

Pizza Catamaran

And if there weren’t enough surprises already: between the 2 islands we saw a red catamaran with a flag with ‘Pizza’ on it a few boats away. Yes, this was a boat on which fresh pizzas were made and which you could order until 9 p.m.

You could pick up the pizza yourself (you will receive a text message) or for € 5 your order will be brought to you on the boat with 1 of the 4 dinghies they have. We decided to pick the pizza up ourselves and eat it on the boat:

Delicious pizzas and great to see how they are made at the back of the boat. Did you notice the fresh basil plants at the back of the boat?

This CataPizza has been around for 10 years now, about 200 pizzas are sold every day for € 20. So you can do the math yourself that this is a great business!

After a wonderful time between and on these 2 islands, we continued sailing along the summery Côte d’Azur! Bye bye to Cannes and the 2 islands, we loved staying there!

Recent stories

Follow Us