Entry 162, September 6th, 2011, 11:15pm (GMT +2)
Today we were in Cannes. I explored the island of St. Marguerite last Italian cruise with some friends, but I forgot to write about it. It's more interesting than this week, so I'll write about it now.
The island lies just off the coast of France, within easy sight of Cannes. The ferry ride is perhaps fifteen minutes on one of the many blue and white Trans-Cote de Azur boats. There are actually two islands, of which St. Marguerite is the larger (about 8km all the way around). Most of the island is wooded, with conifers and pines thriving in the sandy soil. There are a few rocky beaches, but other than that the edge of the island is white stone. The stone has many thin strata, and is crumbling apart (due to erosion) into lines of spider-webbed, broken white teeth.
The day was hot, but in the shade of the trees is was cooler. My friends soon decided to turn back and find a beach, but I felt like walking and so kept on around the island. There's a nice example of early industrial fortification on the island – a French fortress built on the Northern side is all thick stone pentagrams. The forest is beginning to overtake it, but you can still walk between the fortress proper and the island fortresses that cover the walls. These were usually connected to the main walls either by a bridge or an exposed stairway, the idea being that while the enemy could make it up the stairs onto the island, they would be so exposed to musket fire from the main fort that it would be suicide. The island forts, meanwhile, protected the main fort from sappers and from long distance cannon fire.
Continuing around the island, I found an odd series of roads. There is a grid criss-crossing the island for no particular reason – wide dirt avenues with trees lining either side. I can only guess that it used to be some Baron's personal garden spot. I also found the remains of a kiln for firing heated cannonballs at passing ships. The red hot steel was a formidable weapon against wooden sailing ships, with their canvas sails and tarred rigging. Napoleon sailed under these very guns on his return from the island of Elba; they didn't fire on him.