The first thing you notice upon arrival at this monastery built in 400AD is the welcoming and serene birdsong. It’s a still and beautiful place with many perfumed flowers in bloom, exquisite carvings and ornate architecture.
Here, reflection and history are in the air. I’m certainly not religious, but somehow the Abbaya de Lerins of Ile Saint Honorat creates a sense of peacefulness.
The monastery is home to 30 Cistercian Monks, renowned for their wine-making expertise and secret alchemy between grape varieties and the terroir.
The monks harvest around 12 hectares of wine on the island. Initially, they grew grapes for communion wine, as it was cheaper to produce than importing from the mainland. Perhaps the taste was so good – and the white wine is particularly distinctive and delicious – that they decided to make it into a commercial business.
The wine produced at Lerins Abbey is the envy of many vineyards across France because they are unable to replicate the same wonderful taste on the mainland, which is down to the unique growing conditions of the island. During summer, sea temperatures average around 26 degrees and only 11 degrees in winter. This means that Ile Saint Honorat boasts a unique weather system that is imperative to how the grapes routes develop and the affect of the water they use for the wine, which is sourced from a unique natural underground spring.
Tourists are able to purchase a bottle of wine for a lovely souvenir. Prices range from €35 to €200. Wines on offer include:
If you forget to buy your favourite wine at the monastery, you can also purchase it at 1862 Wines & Spirits (5, Rue du Marechal Joffre, 06400, Cannes). The shop is run by trained sommeliers, so you are in good hands. I ran out of time on the island, hence the tip!
In addition to wine producing and tasting, Lerins Abbey on the Isle of Sacred Wines also offers spiritual retreats and conference facilities.
For more information on Lerins Abbey, visit: www.abbayedelerins.com
*During my visit to Lerins Abbey I was hosted by @Visitcotedazur, Palais des Festivals et Des Congres Cannes and We Like Travel. All views and opinions are my own.
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