Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A quick trip to the islands

Just across from Cannes are two islands known as the Iles de Lérins. The first is Ile St-Honorat named for a monk who founded a monastery on the island and the second is Ile Ste-Marguerite, named for his sister. There are quick water shuttles to each of these islands but since we didn't want to rush in trying to get both islands in, we just went to Ile Ste-Marguerite.

The boat ride across offered a number of great views of Cannes and the island as well as all of the boats out and about (including, apparently, the USS Bulkeley which was anchored offshore). There seem to be a lot of sailing schools operating in Cannes because we saw several groups of sailboats toodling around between the mainland and the islands in loose formations.

Now the big attraction on Ile-Ste Marguerite is the fort that dominates the north side of the island and served as a prison for many years whose most famous prisoner was the man in the iron mask but since you can read the history anywhere (er, anywhere) and this is, after all, France I'm just going to talk about lunch. We hiked around the fort to find a little restaurant called La Guerite which, we had been told, had great bouillabaisse. We sat down at a nice shady table and the waiter came up to take our order. It went something like this.

Us: We would like the bouillabaisse for two please

Waiter: No. <very fast French happened> You will like the bourride. (he provided no web link)

Us: Um. Ok sounds great.

He was right. It was not quite the same as bouillabaisse in that it had no shellfish and instead had some big hunks of potatoes in it but it was really tasty and came with some little bread crisps, spicy aioli, and some shredded cheese. Accompanied by a local rosé wine and we were in Provençal heaven.

La Guerite

After lunch, we toured the fort which in addition the the prison cells also included some pretty cool Roman ruins and an interesting display on all of the shipwrecks around the island including the contents of one ancient greek ship that sank nearby.

The museum at Fort Ste-Marguerite

While we waited for the boat back to Cannes, a man was throwing a soccer ball into the water for his German Shepherd to swim after and retrieve. On the far dock was a group of about 30 young French kids who were cheering on the dog. Sometimes both the man and the dog would jump into the water and swim for the ball and the kids started singing "Allez le chien! Allez le chien!" It was very cute and the dog pretty much always won :)

You can check out pictures of the trip here and if you're wondering about the last 3, once we got back to Cannes we took a walk around the pier. The Windows Live flag was flying above one of the giant sailboats docked at the harbor and the sand castle is something we've been watching progress over the past few days. Perhaps I'll get a few more pictures of it before we leave.

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