Location: Southeast of France, Alpes-Maritimes, city of Cannes
Number of inhabitants:
Number of visitors:
Tourists: ~600,000 per year
Protected island: yes
Terrestrial protection status: Natura 2000, national ecological reserve
Located in the Bay of Cannes, Sainte-Marguerite Island is part of the Lérins Islands archipelago, with Saint Honorat Island and the islets of Tradelière and Saint-Féréol. It is located 1260 m from the coast (Cap Croisette).
Listed site, the island is protected thanks to the action of the City of Cannes, which owns most of the built heritage, with the support of the National Forestry Office, which ensures the protection of the national forest ( 140 ha). The Fort Royal, built on ancient remains, is a bastioned fortress from the 17th century. Redesigned by Vauban, it served as a state prison and now houses the Maritime Museum, a residence center and a Permanent Center for Environmental Initiatives (CPIE).
The Island of Sainte Marguerite stretches from west to east over 3,200 meters for an average width of around 500 meters. It is home to a large forest area, part of which is state-owned, a salt pond (the Bateguier), a fort (the Fort Royal) and a few houses.
The island has a semi-tabular appearance; it rises to about 30 m above sea level, around the cliffs facing the city of Cannes, from there the island slopes gently to the shores of the south coast.
There are various types of soil: beaches of pebbles and limestone blocks or massive horizontal limestone slabs with halophilic vegetation, pockets of poorly permeable terra rossa where a calcifuge scrub can settle and finally a soil more favorable to woody vegetation, well fractured and more aerated thanks to the incorporation of humus.
Sainte-Marguerite Island has no natural source of fresh water. The only remaining wetland on the island is the 4-hectare salt lake of Bateguier.
The island is mainly dedicated to tourist and leisure use. It has an average of 2,500 daily visitors and peaks in attendance of up to 5,000 people per day. Tourists visiting the island outside the summer are mostly from the region. The rocky coves on the south coast and the periphery of the Bateguier pond are the most frequented sites, while the interior part of the island and the western end are less traveled.
Remains bear witness to human occupation of the island since the Neolithic era. Sainte-Marguerite island has been occupied for a long time by various populations, and exploited for different uses: religious site (sanctuary dedicated to the god Lérôn in the 6th century BC), site of commercial interest (stopover for navigators), site of military interest in the 17th century (famous Iron Mask prison), or even pastoral or forestry.
The island lives mainly from tourism: there are a few restaurants, shops etc.
Sainte Marguerite is also home to a shipyard, specializing in the restoration of Yachts.
There are many protected species on the island. Regarding the flora, we observe the presence of statices, Jupiter’s barbs, carob trees, sea lilies, and other rare plant species in the Alpes-Maritimes. Along the coasts and the edges of the pond are home to many rare halophyte species in the department, such as Emeric’s glasswort, sea rupella, and common soda.
The avifauna of Sainte-Marguerite Island is particularly rich and diverse. Its pond attracts many birds (pink flamingo, oceanite storm, grebe, great egret …). The island is currently home to 6 species of bats and 4 reptiles including the Montpellier snake.
The island of Sainte-Marguerite is exceptionally rich in beetles: 43 species that have become very rare on the departmental coast due to urbanization. We can cite the great capricorn.
One of the challenges of the island of Sainte Marguerite is the reduction of its public lighting because of its environmental impacts (energy consumption, biodiversity disturbance, light pollution, etc.). For this, particularly within the framework of the ISOS project, one of the solutions envisaged is to replace all public lighting with LED (in several phases), and particularly the decorative lighting of the Fort Royal.
Waste management is also an important issue. It is planned to step up efforts on communication, to encourage visitors to bring their waste back to the mainland, to offer individual composters to residents and to acquire a desiccator to dehydrate waste from the island’s tourist center before to bring them back to Cannes.
In order to enhance the heritage of the island, small restoration work at Fort Royal is planned, spread over several summers, as part of youth or social reintegration projects. The production of a sketchbook illustrating the island is also planned for the promotion of the heritage of the island within the framework of the ISOS project.