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10 Secret islands of the Côte d'Azur

3 of 10 3/10

Île d’Or

Location: Within paddleboarding distance
 of Port du Poussai, near St Raphael

Hideaway Rating: *****

The smallest of our secret islands, Île d’Or was named for its tiny castle that glows gold in the setting sun. In 1897, architect Léon Sergent purchased it from the French government for the princely sum of 280 Francs. That’s about €36. Or less than the price of a sunlounger at Club 55, an hour’s sail down the coast. Alas, Sergent gambled the island away during a round of high-stakes cards with Doctor Auguste Lutaud. The doctor had delusions of grandeur (and who wouldn’t, with their very own island surrounded by coastal drop-offs and stocks of giant grouper and striped bass). He declared himself king of the island, built a mock Saracen castle and hosted wild parties under the pseudonym Auguste 1st. The true story inspired the tale of Tintin and the Black Island. Today, landing by boat on Île d’Or is forbidden, but kayaking the 500 metres from the mainland’s Estérel county park is warmly encouraged.

Picture courtesy of Alamy.com

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