I’m a real island girl so whenever I get a chance to escape to one, I do. This summer I discovered the most adorable little island just 5 minutes off the coast of Bandol in France. Ile de Bendor, or Bendor island, is also called ‘ the island of arts’. It was bought by Paul Ricard in the 1950s when it was nothing more than rocks, barren and wild greenery. Paul Ricard transformed the island into a Mediterranean garden with peaceful seaside walking routes, lush gardens and colourful houses.
Ricard also encouraged artistic creation on the island, notably through the development of workshops and artistic shops in the port, and an art gallery that now houses temporary exhibitions. A stroll around the island is highly recommended as you get to admire sculptures, small museums and other places dedicated to art as well as stunning sea views. As the island is traffic-free, you can really unwind and take in its beauty and peace in your own pace.
Besides the museums, art, little artisan shops and lush gardens, Bendor island is also the perfect spot to relax. There’s a small tranquil beach facing Bandol where you can rent a lounge chair and enjoy a day in the sun. The water is luke warm, shallow and crystal clear. Hotel le Delos, where I stayed, is a true haven. The four star hotel guarantees a relaxing stay as you wake up with beautiful sea views from all rooms, delicious breakfast, a pool and last but not least, the best restaurant in the Bandol area.
Even if you’re not staying on the island, a day, or even an afternoon on the island are worth the ferry ride. There are 5 restaurants to try, like La Terasse, which faces the port and serves brasserie style food. My favourite was hands down Le Grand Large where I had fresh grilled fish with a beautiful sea view.
More information and ferry schedule: www.lesilespaulricard.com