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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4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dawn White (16 months ago)
Lovely garden to visit
Olivier Saner (17 months ago)
What a nice experience.
Dario Di Maria (18 months ago)
Beautiful and amazing island. Fort Monday is just 3 euro other days 6 euro.
Max M. K (19 months ago)
Fantastic day trip to the Fort Royal this is a photographer dream place.
Alice Connolly (2 years ago)
A beautiful hidden island. Definitely worth a visit. You can walk the whole island in a few hours. I’d recommend taking food and drink
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