The Île Sainte-Marguerite island is most famous for its fortress prison (the Fort Royal), in which the so-called Man in the Iron Mask was held in the 17th century.

The island is first known to have been inhabited during Roman times, when it was known by the name Lero. In 1612, ownership of the island passed from the monks of Saint-Honorat to Claude de Lorraine, Duke of Chevreuse. Shortly after, construction of a fort on the island (to become the Fort Royal) began. In 1635, the island was captured by the Spanish and recaptured by the French two years later.

Towards the end of the 17th century, the Fort Royal became home to a barracks and state prison. During the 18th century, the present-day village of Sainte-Marguerite developed, thriving on the spending power of the soldiers stationed on the island.

The Fort Royal was home to a number of famous prisoners until its closure in the 20th century. As well as the Man in the Iron Mask, a mysterious prisoner whose identity remains unknown, Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri (an Algerian rebel leader), Marquis Jouffroy d’Abbans (inventor of the steamboat) and Marshal Bazaine (the only successful escapee from the island) have all spent time there.

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Founded: 17th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

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4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Stephan Lukac (8 months ago)
A delightful museum to explore and learn about all of the rich history of this region. From ancient ship fairing travelers during the Roman Era who stopped in this island during their travels through the Mediterranean to 18th century political history.
Leing streboR (10 months ago)
Great place for adventure! It’s a unisco preserved island ?️ of st marguerites that can only be reached by boat.
john saltray (2 years ago)
This very interesting fort where the masked king was imprisoned is on the Beautiful island of St. Margaurite a 15 min boat ride from Cannes.
Angus Wardle (2 years ago)
Quiet place but nothing much here.
Mandy Redman (2 years ago)
Such a beautiful island. We had a lovely walk all around. The colour of the sea was beautiful. Will have to return in summer to swim and see the underwater statues.
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