L’ile D’or as we returned from wakeboarding as the sun was going down (photo by Augustin Pasquet)

Although the fictional Black Island of Tin-Tin was located in Scotland, it is commonly believed the inspiration for the island was actually L’ile D’or, a private island off the south of France. I was lucky to get an invitation to spend nearly a week on the island this summer.

The pictures really tell it all: red rocky crags surround a medieval tower, and the island draws in boats and yachts like magnets every morning. As for the history of the island, France put the island up for auction in 1897 and it was bought by a Monsieur Sargeant for 280 francs. He lost it in a card game to a Dr. Lutaud Augustus who built the tower in 1912 and proclaimed himself King Augustus I of L’ile D’or in 1913, replete with a sumptuous feast, stamps and coinage. I do hope the coronation came with some irony, as the party thrown there on the weekend of July 4th this year was more rowdy than monarchial!

The island was the location of the 1944  débarquement de Provence, a military maneuver during World War II:

In 1961, the island was sold to Franà§ois Bureau, a former naval officer and it still belongs to the family. When the flag is raised (the logo of the company owned by the Bureau family), it means that the tower is inhabited, but visitors often trespass beyond the coastline–drawn in again by the magnetic force of the tower. Here are some details of the tower interior:

This is both humorous and instructive, as the running water in the tower is provided by a cistern:

The sunset was incredible my first night there and here’s a shot of me exploring on the island (bottom right photograph by Augustin Pasquet):

Another vintage photograph of the island:

The tower as the sun sets:

All photographs unless otherwise noted by Michelle Young

 Follow UntappedCities on  Twitter  and  Facebook. Get in touch with the author at  @UntappedMich

Tags: ,


  1. […] the author @untappedmich.  Check out more excursions and events with Atlas Obscura. Go inside the Black Island of Tin Tin, based on a still-private island in the south of […]

  2. […] transplant, I will posting a bit on my travels within France, from Bordeaux to Normandy, to private islands in the south of France and Brittany. On separate trips, both Untapped Paris correspondent Dave Yeh and I went to this […]

Leave a Comment