PORQUEROLLES THE MAGNIFICENT
Often referred to as the “pearl of the Golden Islands”, Porquerolles has been formally preserved as a national park since 2012. Nestled off the Var coast, Porquerolles is the largest of the Hyères islands. Its arc-shaped silhouette stretches from east to west, with jagged coastlines, measuring 7 kilometers long by 3 kilometers wide, and its 1250 hectares of area make it the most densely populated and cultivated island among the three Golden Islands.
It is impossible to talk about Porquerolles without mentioning the remarkable career of François Joseph Fournier, a Belgian adventurer who accumulated a fortune in Mexico at the end of the 19th century, mainly through mining. In 1912, he acquired the island for the sum of one million and one hundred francs, and gave it as a wedding gift to his third wife. He set out to develop the island in a similar way to a Mexican hacienda, hiring 150 workers and developing agriculture with the establishment of vegetable crops, citrus fruits and vines (clearing 250 hectares of land). In addition, he established a fleet of boats to ensure the link with the Tour Fondue on the Giens Peninsula.
After a 15-minute drive from the Tour Fondue landing stage, you will arrive on an island with a bewitching charm. Whether on foot or by bike, you can walk in the shelter of pine and eucalyptus trees. You will discover forts, olive groves, vineyards, old lighthouses… so many treasures to explore. To the south, a steep coast is dominated by cliffs sheltering a few creeks that are worth a visit. To the north, you’ll find sandy beaches and turquoise waters, ideal for swimming. The singular scenery, natural and preserved, will be the setting for your swimming experience in the clear waters of the Mediterranean.
To be discovered...
PORT-CROS, THE WILD ISLAND
Port-Cros, the smallest of the Golden Islands, is characterized by its mountainous relief entirely covered by dense forest. With an area of 700 hectares, it has imposing dimensions, measuring 4.5 kilometres long and 3.5 kilometres wide. This island offers few valleys and plains, but rather a more or less steep rocky coast, while sheltering two vast natural bays: the port and Port-man. It is also surrounded by other islands and islets, of which Bagaud, located to the west, is the largest.
The island of Port-Cros is home to a few fishermen’s houses, a modest church, as well as important historical sites, including the lookout, the valley of solitude and Hélène’s manor. As a legacy of its military past, the island retains several forts, including the Fort de l’Estissac, the Fort de Port-Man, the Fortin de la Vigie, the Fort du Moulin, and the Fort de l’Éminence.
You are invited to a total immersion in nature. As the smallest national park in France, the island of Port-Cros offers a network of hiking trails in the heart of the Mediterranean vegetation. You can also equip yourself with fins, a mask and a snorkel to explore the underwater trail of La Palud beach, which reveals the rich underwater fauna and flora. Through this experience, you will discover groupers, sea urchins, corals and starfish, which may reveal their mysteries to you.
THE LEVANT, THE NATURIST
Located off the coast of the Var, the Ile du Levant proudly faces the Corniche des Maures. Although a little smaller than Porquerolles, it has a narrow shape, stretching over 8 kilometres long and 1 kilometre wide.
Due to its strategic geographical location, the state acquired 90% of the island and turned it into a military base. Only a small portion, representing one-tenth of its surface area, is accessible to the public. To better understand this military presence on the Levant Island, it is interesting to explore the history of this island, the easternmost of the golden islands.
In 1931, Dr. Gaston and Dr. André Durville took over the management of the Société des Îles d’Or and established one of the first naturist villages in Europe on the island of Levant, known as the Heliopolis naturist estate. Even today, every summer, thousands of nature enthusiasts visit the site, making this place one of the most popular naturist destinations on the Mediterranean coast. The island of Levant is thus a singular tourist destination, offering holidays with a unique atmosphere that merge the naturist lifestyle with remarkable landscapes.
Of particular note are the spectacular sunsets on the island of Port-Cros, opposite. It is an atypical destination located in the Var, revealing a most surprising natural heritage. Visitors don’t come to the island of Levant in search of sandy beaches, as it offers only one, which is open to the general public. On the contrary, it is for the philosophical approach to life that predominates there and for the multitude of coves with emerald waters that you can explore the Levant by taking the naturist trail.