Ratonneau (Île Ratonneau) is in the Mediterranean Sea, a few miles off the southern coast of France. This island is part of the Frioul archipelago, which includes the more famous Île d'If, which is the setting for Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo.  

Ratonneau is connected to Pomègues, another island in the archipelago, by what’s called a mole. This is a manmade breakwater built in 1822 to create a safe place to shelter boats. Today, this artificially created port serves as a marina, where many yachts are moored. 

There's hardly any modern development on Ratonneau, making it an excellent place to escape the busy city life and unwind in tranquil surroundings.

Ratonneau in Marseille - one of the highlights of 10 Best Islands Around Marseille (Read all about Marseille here)

What are the highlights of Ratonneau?

While some visit Ratonneau on a leisurely boat tour, you can visit 3 historic fortifications on the island. Fort de Ratonneau is in the center of the island. Established in 1886, the fort has hundreds of crosses, so it somewhat resembles a cemetery. What you see are the foundations of an ammunition shelter that was never finished by German troops during WWII.

There’s a ruined hospital on the east of the island. It was originally used to care for patients suffering from yellow fever and other contagious diseases, but fell victim to bombing during WWII.

To the east, there’s the Batterie du Cap de Croix, a ruin dating from the 19th century. Over to the west, you’ll see Fort du Brigantin, though there’s not much to do there besides enjoying sea views. 

Ratonneau forms part of Calanques National Park. It has a few beaches, the best of which is the Plage de Saint-Estève. This delightful crescent of sand is sheltered from the Mistral wind and its shallow water is typically a vivid shade of turquoise.

Where to eat on Ratonneau?

Restaurants and cafés cluster around the ferry dock of Ratonneau. The fine, sunny weather makes this a popular spot for an alfresco lunch. Many of the restaurants serve freshly caught seafood and other tasty dishes such as paella.

La Grillade serves Mediterranean specialties, while Le Commodore is as popular for its French cuisine as it is for its ice cream parlor. At Le Kai Kai café, you can find more ice cream and an assortment of snacks. For something a little different, try a glass of Moroccan mint tea at Le Cabanon des Thés.

Where to shop on Ratonneau?

Ratonneau has a good range of shopping outlets, thanks to a steady stream of day-trippers, especially in the summer A couple of giftshops cater largely to the tourist market, selling fridge magnets and postcards. The principal gift store is Rond Point, but it's also possible to pick up a souvenir at Le Cabanon des Thés.

The Superette du Frioul is the only food store on the island of Ratonneau. This small grocery store is great for picking up basic necessities. If you're planning to anchor overnight, it's a good idea to stock up on provisions before leaving Marseille.

Good to know about Ratonneau

Automobiles are prohibited on the island of Ratonneau, which is reached via a frequent ferry service from the Old Port of Marseille. The good news is that the island is small enough to explore on foot. 

Ratonneau in Marseille

Julia Hammond | Contributing Writer