Porquerolles can be quite a surprise: a few minutes sea crossing away from the superlative lifestyle and bustle of the French Riviera, how come this small island offers such an unsullied environment? Porquerolles is a real find, with its splendid sea bed, sparkling water creeks and coves, paths and trails redolent of pine and eucalyptus trees. An idyllic setting if you want space and serenity, doubly so as showy-and-flashy just isn’t part of the local vocabulary. Enjoy the Provence way of life,
a game of petanque and a drink at the terrace of the cafes around the plaza, with its small church straight out of a Mexican Western. The island prides itself in the extensive and well-kept tracks
and trails open to hikers and bikers by the National Park of Port-Cros. For would-be or confirmed naturalists the local flora and fauna run the gamut of observable subjects from 626 recognized beetles and insects, to 163 bird species and 156 wild plants. You’ll also view a good part of the island and the mainland coast from the St Agatha Fort. Added to which, if diving,
big game fishing and whale watching turns you on, then you are in a good place.
 
Surface : 12,5 km²
Size max. : 7 km / 2,5 km
Position : 43° 00’ N - 06° 23’ E
Situation : South of Hyères, between Toulon and Saint Tropez Archipelago : Iles d’Hyères or
“Iles d’Or” : Porquerolles, Port-Cros and Le Levant
Status : Attached to the Commune of Hyères. Listed site, administrated by the National Park
of Port-Cros
Population : 350 inhabitants
Visitors : 1 million visitors per year
Languages : French
Currency : Euro
Climate : Mediterranean
Local time : +1 GMT
Fauna & Flora : 623 species of insects, 163 species of birds, 8 species of reptiles. 156 species of wild plants. Fruit tree collection: peach trees, fig trees, olive trees, mulberry trees, almond trees. The widest variety of mushrooms in the region.
Sea & Sun : In the North, sand beaches (the most famous : la plage d’Argent). In the South, creeks.
Sports & Leisure :
Surf spots : L’almanarre (Giens Peninsula), La Courtade, when very windy.
Scuba diving spots : several spots, one of which is la sèche des Saragniers, shipwrecks.
Nature & Discovery : Nature is everywhere. Varied landscapes. Fauna and flora of worldwide interest. The Botanical Conservatory has set up a bank of seeds including nearly 2 000 threatened species and has planted gardens and living collections.
Culture & History : Owing to its geographical position, the island has sustained long periods of unrest. Following the rhythm of Provence eventful history, it was conquered, in turns, by Barbary pirates and English corsairs. It knew military, religious and industrial occupation. It was exploited, then forgotten. In 1967, the government bought 9/10e of its area. It was listed in 1988 and is now administered by the Port Cros National Park.
 
3 good reasons
1. For the charm of an exceptionally preserved Mediterranean island, and the pleasure of walking or cycling... 15 km from the Côte d’Azur.
2. For the fine sand beaches, the creeks and coves, the clear waters, the famous diving spots.
With so many assets, it has no reason to be envious of far away islands.
3. For the rhythm of seasons, the deserted beaches off season, and for the long hikes or mountain bike rides.
2 musts
1. The visit of the gardens and the living collections of the Botanical Conservatory and diving on shipwrecks.
2. Hiking or cycling around the island and a picnic in a secluded creek.
An insight into the island
While there, you are likely to catch the “porquerollitis”, an imaginary disease whose main symptom is “why do to-day what can be done to-morrow?”. You will discover that the island is a children’s paradise because they can play about freely, all day long, on the village square. You will learn about the romantic story of the island which was bought François-Joseph Fournier and given to his wife as a wedding present, before the Government bought it to create the National Park.
 
The guide : Porquerolles, Port-Cros, le Levant : guide by Micháele Dard.
The book : Hyeres Ile De Porquerolles. Ed. Chartech. Collection : Aqua3 IGN Top 25.
The night : Havana Loca.
The celebrity : Georges Simenon (French writter).
The taste : the local “rosé” wine.
The object : petanque balls.
The unusual : The Fort de la Repentance is being done up by a monk, Father Seraphin.
The tradition : Sainte Anne’s Feast Day.
The visit : Sainte Agatha Fort.
The rendez-vous : “Porquerolles’s Cup” Whitsun regatta.
The beach : Notre Dame.
The diving : Donator, ship-wreck well known for its coral.
 

How to get there
Distances : 1 hr 15 flight from Paris + 15 mn by car + 15 mn crossing.
Airports : International : Marseille and Nice. National : Toulon-Hyères.
Harbours : Jetty : La tour Fondue on Giens Peninsula and in the high season: Hyeres, Toulon,
Le Lavandou, La Londe, Cavalaire, Bormes les Mimosas, Cannes, Bandol, Saint Tropez.
On the island : 600 mooring marina.


More informations
Best time of the year to go : September, the favorite month of island fans. The Spring long weekends are also much appreciated. Off season, the mushroom period (Autumn) and the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Visits : exhibition “Diversity means Life” and “The shipwrecks of Hyeres harbor”, in Sainte Agatha Fort.
Local life : on the place d’Armes where the games of petanque take place, and on the port, in Summer. Festivities : Sainte Anne’s Feast Day (July 26th), Bastille Day (July 14th), and New Year’ Eve party. Formalities : Passport, Identity Card for E U members.
Telecoms : Itinéris network and SFR network (50% reduction) telephone booths.
Electricity : 220 V.
Precautions : Danger of fire: smoking is forbidden outside the village. In Summer, when windy, access restricted to the beaches. Camping prohibited. No dogs on the beaches. They must be kept on the leash elsewhere.

 
- TAKE a bike, at daybreak, to go and have a swim at Notre Dame beach and breath in the fragrance of eucalyptus and pine trees as you ride along.
- ENJOY your fish when you come back from fishing or buy it from Peggy or Sam.
- RENT a mountain bike to cycle round the island and try to beat the speed record.
- TREAT yourself to a whale photo safari with Gérard Genta, a specialist in big game fishing.
- BET an “apéritif” ( pastis or rosé) on a game of petanque or belote.
- TAKE your breakfast early in the morning on the Terrace of “l’Escale”, with view
of the port.
 
 
Key figures : Accommodation: 8 hotels. Highest point: 142 m. 1000 ha are the National Park of Port Cros property. 80 km of waymarked path and trails. 30 swimming places. Annual pluviometry : 575 mm. 265 sunny days/year. 600 places in the marina. Port of call for many pleasure boats (about 19 131 boats/year).
Life cost : Cigarettes pack: 3,05 €. A soda: 2,59 €. Local daily newspaper: 0,70 €.
A film: 7,47 €. Exchange rate: 1,00 €= 0,91 U$ (by the 12/10/01)