If you were to wake up on this island one day, that is, without knowing where you were, you would think that you were somewhere in the Caribbean or the south seas. You would never believe that a place like this exists in the south of France. Welcome to Porquerolles.
Porquerolles is the largest of the 3 islands of Hyeres. 7 kilometers long and 3 kilometers wide, 300 or so people reside here permanently. The northern part has idyllic beaches of white sand and turquoise waters; the south side beaches are sheltered by overhanging limestone cliffs. All along the coastline there are wild plants, pine trees, eucalyptus, oak, fig trees, and even lavender and vineyards.
What to do:
Hiking, mountain biking, water sports, and of course the option of not doing anything: tummy towards the sun, reading, naps under a tree….Tranquility with the option of an accompanying bottle of wine from the provincial denomination Cote de provence .
There are ferries from the peninsula of Hyeres ( La tour fondue port) almost every hour in the summer and 5 to 6 times per day in the winter. A return trip costs around 20 euros. The trajectory is about 25 minutes. Motor vehicles are not permitted leaving a bike rental as the best option to move around the island. If you can stay the day and catch the first and last ferries, you will get to know the island well.
If you prefer to relax on the beach, stroll, or pedal at leisure there are also options to stay the night, although they are somewhat costly. Camping is not allowed. Some boats at the port offer vacation rentals (for sleeping only) starting at 60 euros, which is the most economic option, and possibly also the most romantic.
What to see:
You only have to arrive to the port to see the small town, the fortress, the church and fort of Saint Agatha. Here you will also find the options to go to the supermarkets, restaurants, and rent a bike…to the east are the best beaches: La Courtade and especially Notre Dame. Continuing east you will arrive to the fort Grand Langoustier. To the west: Plage d’argent, which is less spectacular, but has a restaurant-bar and great views. To the southeast, before arriving to Faro, there are many different coves and secluded inlets, as well as beautiful trails.
When to go:
Porquerolles, like much of the region, has many days of sun per year. Ideally, the time to go is on a day of sun before high season, mid-June to mid-September. During the summer months the island has 5000 visitors daily, and even so, the island continues to be very peaceful. Go in early June or late September (avoiding weekends) if you really want to enjoy the island without many people.
It is also possible to visit the other 2 islands, Port Cros and Le Levant (the latter is a naturist island with the majority closed to military ownership). Hyeres has a a lovely historic action and marvelous peninsula with beaches, water sports including kitesurfing, and hiking trails.