Between the Mediterranean and limestone Provence, Esterel is a volcanic massif of 32,000 hectares of which 14,000 are classified. Its astonishing red colour comes from rhyolite, or red porphyry, volcanic rock from the Cambrian Period. Circuits have been created for mountain biking, horse-riders and hikers.
The flora is rich and varied. Aleppo pine, chestnut, fig and olive trees grow in abundance and happily coexist with palms, agaves and mimosas. Note that when the mistral is strong, the massif is prohibited for all forms of traffic.
Be sure to don your most fashionable sunglasses for a rather chic outing; the Boulevard de la Croisette awaits! Famous worldwide for the festival, the red carpet and the Croisette, Cannes more than lives up to its reputation for glamour and luxury.
As you enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Croisette, you can admire the inviting waters of the big blue and take a refreshing break on the beach. The shoreline features a line of luxurious boutiques, grand hotels and palaces, in the shade of palm trees. The Carlton Hotel, a legendary symbol of Cannes, will certainly draw your eye.
In 1615 the île Sainte Marguerite, one of the Lérins Islands that lies opposite the bay of Cannes, passed to Charles de Lorraine, duke of Guise who gave it to Jean de Bellon: thus began the construction of the fort Royal.
After war was declared with Spain, Cardinal Richelieu ordered further work to be carried out in order to protect the Provence coast. The Spanish took the fort in 1635 and continued its construction.
Toward the end of the 17th century, the fort became a State prison, and hosted three companies of invalid soldiers, who were allowed to marry, and who founded a civil population on the island.
In 1712, Vauban redeveloped the fort royal of île Sainte Marguerite, fortifying it. Until the 20th century, the building remained in use as a state prison and even incarcerated famous prisoners including the Man in the Iron Mask.
Today, the fort royal on île Sainte-Marguerite houses the Cannes Sea Museum.
On the Cannes Croisette, you are only a few hundred yards from the paradisiacal Lérins Islands. Take a boat over the blue Mediterranean to reach them. The Lérins Islands archipelago is made up of four islands and islets, two of which are inhabited: Sainte-Marguerite Island and Saint-Honorat Island. Although these two islands are very different in character, they feature the same magical landscapes, where nature is protected and plants and animals abound.
Sainte-Marguerite Island is the largest. Follow the island's botanical trail among pines and eucalyptus trees. In the distance, you can see Cape Antibes. Full of mystery, Sainte-Marguerite Island was the place where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned for more than ten years. Resolve this mystery at the Maritime Museum on Sainte-Marguerite Island…
Saint-Honorat Island is the most pious of the Lérins Island, for a very good reason: Lérins Abbey has been the home of Cistercian monks since the 5th century.
After the Second World War, Pablo Picasso chose to live and work on the French Riviera. His strong attachment to the Mediterranean coast led him to spend time in Antibes, Cannes and Mougins, and before this at Vallauris (known for its pottery industry) where he was to stay from 1948 to 1955.
As well as a significant body of works in ceramic, the artist's stay was marked by several major paintings realised during this time. The museum exhibits two important works, War and Peace in the chapel. Each year the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions on certain themes.