I miss Porquerolles from my trip a few years ago and promised myself to return. Porquerolles near Toulon, just 25 minutes by boat from the mainland, is located in a nature reserve, and is the largest of the Golden Islands in the Gulf of Hyères, which includes Porquerolles, Levant, and Port-Cros. Now, let’s explore Porquerolles island — One of the most Europe’s beautiful islands in France through my Porquerolles blog below.
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With up to 300 sunny days a year, Porquerolles is boldly Mediterranean with rustling pine forests, with water and sky mixed in a deep blue. I came here for the last time on a September day. The early autumn sunlight that year was clear, making the rolling waters sparkle and making me squint to squint.
I love the leisurely and somewhat lazy look of Porquerolles, from the cool salty sea, to the old men gathering in the afternoon to throw pétanque – a traditional game in the South of France. Porquerolles has everything for a leisurely summer vacation, with pristine sandy beaches, embracing strangely shaped cliffs for a morning lounging and listening to the waves crashing. Porquerolles also has narrow, winding trails that weave under the shade of pine trees for a leisurely afternoon stroll. Porquerolles has high windswept cliffs for an evening watching the sun slowly drop into the sea. Porquerolles has bumpy dirt roads for a day of cycling lost among green grape fields and whispering olive groves. Porquerolles has fortresses and legends that let the imagination wander back to bygone months and years.
It is said that every year more than 100,000 visitors come to Porquerolles. During the low season, the island doesn’t have a single bit of hustle and bustle. The island is not very large, 7 km on one side, only 3 km on another side, but there are more than 100km of trails, most of which are only for pedestrians, or for mountain bikes. It’s very rare to see an old car of someone who lives on the island rattling pass by. The whole island has only one big road connecting from the small port, full of yachts of the rich, to the center of the village. Called it a big road, but it’s also rough and full of potholes. Every time someone passes by, it throws a thick cloud of dust, making me turn my face to the fence, looking at the grass to avoid breathing in the dust. Under the dry sun, when the wind blows through the pine canopy, the round shadows of the sun keep running back and forth, jumping from the roadside to the shoulders, to the hair. Why is it like the old road when I went to school?
Going a short distance, the main road is divided into many small branches, leading to the beach, rocky headland, fortress, sea bay. The typical Mediterranean bay is common known as Calanque by the French, surrounded by vertical cliffs. The cliffs up to hundreds of meters high suddenly threw themselves into the sea, forming a vertical abyss. Below, the waves hit the shore with white foam, the water changed from light turquoise, to sky blue, to dark blue, sparkling and clear all the way to the bottom.
The Golden Islands controlled the entrance to the port of Toulon, during the Thirty Years’ War in the seventeenth century, Cardinal Richelieu built many fortresses to protect the port and coastline. After the war, some of them were turned into prisons, others were abandoned until now. Alycastre is one of the three fortresses of Porquerolles. Seen from above, Alycastre brings a bit of Vauban architectural style with an eight-pointed star shape. Rumor has it that the fortress of Alycastre was the place to hold the Man in the Iron Mask on the way to the island of Sainte-Marguerite. No one knew who he was, where he came from, and why he was subjected to such a terrible punishment.
Porquerolles owns many balmy, beautiful beaches, including Notre Dame beach, Argent beach, Langoustier beach …, and countless seclude small, beautiful coves, lying contemplatively under the soaring pine trees. At the end of a tiny path that weaves through the woods, like hundreds of other trails, also marked by a tiny yellow sign, Argent Beach appeared when no one would think it was there. I walked along the water’s edge, climbed the cliffs on the opposite side of the sand, found myself a comfortable seat in the shade of the pines, took out my pencil, and scribbled a few lines in the logbook.
A few days ago, the media reported that Notre Dame beach was at the top of the list of 15 most beautiful beaches in Europe in 2015 voted by European Best Destinations. The day I came, under the warm early autumn sun, the beach didn’t seem like a well-known famous place. It stayed wild, stayed quiet, kept rustling, kept rolling.
How to get to Porquerolles?
- From Tour Fondue port on the Giens peninsula: It takes 25 minutes to reach. There is 1 boat trip at the beginning of the morning and 30 minutes with a trip at the end of the afternoon, and there is 1 trip every 1 hour during the day. Ticket price €19.5/2-way for adults, and €16.9/2-way for students. There is a parking lot right next to the Tour Fondue. Sending all day costs about €10.
- From Toulon port: The service is only available in summer (May to September), by the maritime company Les Bateliers de la Rade. Traveling time is about 1 hour 45 minutes. There is only 1 trip and 1 return trip per day. Ticket price is €26/2-way, book in advance is recommended.
From Hyères and Tour Fondue there are a variety of taxi boats for you to choose. The ticket price is of course a bit more expensive than the boat ticket. Refer to the following website: http://www.porquerolles.com/accueil/comment-venir/
Train and Bus
- From SNCF Toulon station, take the TER train to Hyères. From SNCF Hyères station take bus number 67 (blue bus) to Tour Fondue (25 minutes, €1.4).
- From Toulon routière station: Take the bus number 103 or 102 to Hyère (it takes about 30, 40 minutes). From Hyères center take bus number 67 to Tour Fondue.
Fly to Toulon-Hyère airport and then take the bus as above or taxi (10 minutes, €25). Then get on the boat to get to the island.
Porquerolles blog: Where to stay in Porquerolles island?
There are hotels on the island, but they are quite expensive. 1 room for 2 people costs from €100/1 night or more. Therefore, when I come here, I usually choose a room near Toulon, getting to the island by the first boat trip and return late in the afternoon. The island is quite small, so in 1 day (12 hours), you can go all the way around, except for the furthest points in the East like Pointe de Galère (Point of Misery). To get there, you have to go through a road also called Misery and pass a pass of the same name. Among 3 times come to Porquerolles, I still haven’t gathered the courage to go there.
If you want to spend a night on Porquerolle, check out top and best hotels on Booking.com.
What to do in Porquerolle?
- Strolling around the village and the island.
- Traveling to Porquerolles, you can rent a bicycle to cycling around the island for about €12/half a day and €15/day.
- Rent a canoe without a driver’s license, can go with 5 people, price from €80/half a day, €95/day.
- Rent a kayak to paddle around the island.
- Hiking around island.
- Snorkeling of diving.
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