HYERES, THE HISTORICAL CITY AND ITS TREASURE ISLANDS
WHAT TO DO? MY JOURNEY
THE CITY CENTER AND ITS UPPER TOWN CIRCUIT
One of the main gate at the city center
Small street in the city center
Street in the city center
When you are in Hyères, it is not just the islands to visit. The town itself is super nice and pretty. Before visiting it, go to the tourist office to get information and take the map that shows you different routes to visit the city. I recommend the “upper town circuit“, which is great! You will start with the Massillon door which leads to the historic city center. The town is super cute, lots of narrow pedestrian streets with lively squares, restaurants and shops. On the other hand, be prepared, the entire historic city center is on a slope. In the main square, there is the tower of the Templars. You can enter it and admire the view from up there. On the circuit you will see some very beautiful buildings such as the wash house of the Saint Paul collegiate church and a ruined castle. You will also pass through Saint Bernard and Sainte Claire parks, which are two beautiful, quiet and very pretty parks. The circuit lasts approximately 1h30 and allows you to see the entire historic city center. I loved it. There is another recommended circuit, 19th century Hyères. I didn’t do it because it was mainly to see the architecture of some houses.
When you are in Hyères, you must visit one of these two islands, Porquerolles and/or Port-Cros. The difference between the two is that Porquerolles is very easy to access and you can do the whole island easily by bike. While Port-Cros is much wilder, there is only the port of the island and after that it is only nature. Two very different islands.
Notre Dame beach
Path in Porquerolles
Before going to the port that will take you to Porquerolles Island, take a ticket at the tourist office (boat + bike) which will save you €6 in all. On the other hand you must buy the ticket directly at the tourist office, and know which day you will go exactly. To get to the island, take bus 67 from the city center, you will have it for less than an hour. Then, take the boat for about twenty minutes. There are boats very frequently during the day even in low season. Check the timetables just in case, and especially the bus timetables because it is still far from the city center on foot. I advise you to arrive on the island when the shops open to avoid the world but still be able to take your bikes. For example, we arrived around 9am and it was perfect, avoid arriving around 10am.
You will arrive at a very cute port with shops, restaurants and a few bike rental companies. Because yes, it is better to visit the island by bike if you want to see all the viewpoints of the island. Take a good look at the signs, they will tell you where you can put the bikes but also the paths not accessible by bike. The paths and trails are not very well indicated sometimes. Attention, contrary to what I thought it is still quite physical. There is a lot of elevation on the island. You have to be physically ready. But it’s worth it, the beaches are magnificent, the colors incredible, the paths we take are so beautiful.
The first beach we saw was Notre Dame beach. A very large, super pretty beach. Then we arrived on the « cape des mèdes » with a super nice view and some ruins. We also saw the creek of Oustaou de Dieu, little visited and super calm. Perfect for taking a picnic. Then we went to the Langoustier peninsula which allows us to have a great view of the coast and a good part of the island. The view is definitely worth the detour! We also rested for a while at the Argent beach where the water is transparent with very pleasant fine sand. It’s a super beautiful island, I loved it! Gorgeous colors and super beautiful corners. We finished touring the island around 5.30pm having been able to land in a few places. If you want to see it all, you need the day.
Price of a bus ticket: €1.40
Price of the shuttle and bike package: €36.50
Shop of our bike rental: The Indian, click here to access the website.
View on Levant Island
The flower path
View on pointe du Cognet
To go to Port-Cros Island, take bus 67 and allow around thirty minutes. Caution, it is not at all in the same place as to take the boat from Porquerolles. You can buy tickets for the boat on site. If you are in high season, try to take the ticket upstream, or early in the day. When I was there in May, I had no problems with space. There are far fewer boats going to this island. For example when I was there, there was a boat at 9am and the return at 5 pm only. So take a good look at the timetables. It takes about 1 hour to arrive on the island.
Once you arrive on the island, you will come to a very charming little port with a few restaurants and shops. There is also a map (perhaps even the only one I have seen on the island) that shows you the different circuits. There is no duration of the circuits so manage your timing well. I wanted to go around the island in one day. I started with the flower path which runs along the coast in height then I arrived on a beach. Then, I continued with the Port Man circuit which has extraordinary views of Levant Island and super beautiful beaches. I arrived at La Sardinière where I could continue inland to return to the port. But I still had time, so I continued the tour by the writers’ circuit, and then the ridge circuit which has great views of the island’s cliffs. For me the most beautiful view is the « Pointe du Cognet » which gives a view of all its cliffs falling into the water. The circuits on the left of the island are more beaches and paths with a view of Levant Island, while the part on the right is more inland but allows for elevated views of the island and see the cliffs. All these trails allowed me to go all around the island. Most of the course is broken up by trees and you won’t be at the water’s edge all the time. Unlike Porquerolles Island, the trails are super well marked, even if I sometimes used maps.me to help, I admit. Sometimes, I made a few small detours such as the view of the Gabinière and Mont Vinaigre which allows you to have a 180° view of the whole island. These two detours are worth it because you will have extraordinary views of the island. It’s so beautiful! I really loved this island which is wild (there is only infrastructure at the port). And there are few people in low season. I must have met about fifty people in all on the island, apart from the port. Sometimes I was alone for a long time.
I did the whole route in 6 hours but without stopping very long at one place. Depending on your pace, choose your course carefully.
Price of a bus ticket: €1.40
Return boat price: €29
Hyères is a great city in itself with its historic city center. But it is also a good stopover to visit the islands of Port-Cros and Porquerolles, which are magnificent. There are quite a few activities to do such as the archaeological site of Olbia or the peninsula of Giens. Not everything is next door and you need to plan more time in this city.
WHEN TO GO?
At the end of May we were starting to get warm but not yet to the point of swimming, the sea was a bit cold. On the other hand, I advise you to avoid July and August because I have the impression that there are really a lot of people at these times, and the visits will not be pleasant.
We stayed 3 days but you can easily plan to stay 5 days there to visit the peninsula of Giens and the archaeological site of Olbia.
WHERE TO SLEEP? MY ACCOMMODATION
We slept in an airbnb very well placed next to the historic city center. It allowed us to go out at night and easily access the different places we wanted to see.
MY 3 TIPS
- Go in low season as the streets are narrow and the islands are nice when it’s not crowded yet
- Plan one day per island, it doesn’t seem like it but they are still very big
- Lose yourself in the small streets of the city center, you will make beautiful discoveries