Saint-Honorat: a secret island off the coast of Cannes

Published on May 04, 2018
  • © SEMEC - KELAGOPIAN/ Herve Fabre - The monks installed on the island produce a famous wine

    © SEMEC - KELAGOPIAN/ Herve Fabre - The monks installed on the island produce a famous wine

Saint-Honorat: a secret island off the coast of Cannes saint honorat fr

In the Lérins archipelago off the coast of Cannes, the island of Saint-Honorat has for centuries belonged to a community of Cistercian monks who jealously protects its tranquility and the wine-making secrets of its vineyard. A wonder of sea and nature to spend a day out of time.

 

Did you know that there is an island right in front of the Palais des Festivals du Cinéma in Cannes ? Saint Honorat, a tiny land of red soil and pinewood embroidered with vineyards, barely 1,500 meters long by 450 meters wide, spread his paradisiac creeks over a sea of porcelain, less than a kilometer away from the cotes d’azur. 

But if this island, the tiniest of all, is only minutes away by boat of the bay with the fancy yachts of Cannes, it is remote from the sparkling sides of the city.

 

 

© Jérôme Kélagopian  —  The Island Saint-Honorat is part of Lérins archipelago, off the coast of the city of Cannes.

Over here, everything is preserved, eucalyptus perfumed, evrything is discreet, full of serenity : the cistercian monks, based here since year 410, make a renowned wine, follow the rule of Saint Benoit made of prayer and work. An enchantress retreat occupyed by 21 brothers monks from 29 to 89 years old.

A period of calm

 

We go there to spend some hours or the complete day, time for a digression far from the tumult of the cities of the coast. And we let ourselves be guided on the paths of the island by brother Marie, the cellar master, or by one of the lay friends trained by the monks and passionate about the history of Saint-Honorat.

This is the opportunity to discover another facet of Cannes made of wild beaches and undergrowth of Aleppo pines, humble stone chapels and monasteries classified historical monuments, Napoleonic ball furnaces and wood cisterns.

"The monk are loquacious about the tiny wineyard of 8.5 hectares cultivated the ancestral way."

 


It is in spring that the ride is the most beautiful, when the thick walls of the old tower of the monastery (11th century) wobble in the light air on the transparent sea and the hills covered with vineyards fill the landscape of soft green geometries.

The monks are loquacious on this tiny vineyar of 8.5 hectares, cultivate the ancestral way, where the alchemy between clay-limestone soils, maritime influence and exceptional sunshine, produces wines of syrah, chardonnay, mourvèdre… very sought after by the starred chefs.

 


© SEMEC - KELAGOPIAN - The monks produce here wines mainly composed of syrah, chardonnay and mourvèdre.

 

Only 35 000 bottles are producted on the island every year and every cuvée has her name : Saint-Honorat, Saint-Sauveur, Saint-Pierre, Saint Césaire… You can kind of find every saints on the labels.

Tasting and prayers

 

Tastings are offered in the company of monks under the olive trees or in the extraordinary garden of priest overgrown with wreaths, every first Friday of each month during wine workshops.

At the end of the day, the monks welcome those who wish in the abbey church for a Mass. Their song will rise then in the big nave, taken again by the hosts of the monastery. A great moment of peace before leaving to find the agitation of the modern world !

Point of interest