White sand, turquoise sea, golden reflections under the sea, palm trees and colored little houses. Thailand? Hawaii? No, France. Incredible, right? I know I also thought it when my colleague showed me pictures of those islands, recommending me to visit Porquerolles.
So I went there, to the Golden Islands.
Why are those called like that? There is a wonderful legend behind the name: a prince once lived in that lands, who had four beloved daughters. Four women of a matchless beauty as well as skilled swimmers. One fine day, under the careful watch of their father, they started swimming off shore, farther and farther away… until the black sails of a pirate ship appeared. The girls started swimming fast as possible towards the shore, but the ship caught up to them. The father, in despair, prayed the gods to save his daughters from kidnapping. The gods, moved, decided to turn the girls into three stunningly beautiful islands. The fourth girl, who desperately reached with her arms towards the father, became what today is known as the Hyères peninsula.
The sensation of caressing those girls is alive and strong while walking on Porquerolles island’s streets, the biggest of the three islands (the others are Port-Cros and Levant). You admire her as you would do with a wonderful woman.
The turquoise sea that caresses her features, enhances and soothes the traits of that woman, frozen in a moment of despair.
Visit Porquerolles, the biggest of the Golden Islands
Porquerolles, 7 km long and 2,5 km wide.. a big woman indeed, and yet you can easily visit it all by walking, in a day, without losing any of its wonders.
At least another day should be dedicated to the sea: how can you not want to spend a whole day in a sea like that?
As soon as you step foot on it, you are welcomed by the pastel colored houses, and by the village main street – built to attract to the island the families of the soldiers who were allocated here – which is filled with restaurants and bike rentals, the only vehicle that you can use on the island if you’re a tourist.
Along the streets, people who smiles with their sea bag and a slush in their hands (those are incredible, try the one with banana and kiwi) have one only thought: relax.
The first thing you’ll see on the island, if you follow the road towards the “Plage d’Argent”, is the Place d’Armes, a big square (big considering the dimensions of the island.. don’t expect to see Time Square) crowned by the yellow St.Anne Church, in which you can see a reproduction of Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Keep on going up behind the church, along the dirt trails surrounded by the green, you can get to St.Agathe Fort, dated 1400 (what’s left of it). From here you can get an awesome view on Plage de Notre Dame and on Giens peninsula.
Farther yet you can find the “Moulin de Bonheur”: windmill of good fortune, one of the rare examples of Provençal windmill.
Now you can cycle downhill, enjoying of the wind in your hair and the smell of berries, peach and olive trees which invades the air.
Don’t go too fast, though. Discover the details, because there are many of them.
Live it, with no rush.
It’s the island itself that encourage you to do so.
Don’t miss flowers’ colors, the smells, the doves, the games made by olive trees’ shades on the ground.
Get to the beaches from the least walked paths.
The beaches are all so different among them.
The Plage d’Argent is made of white sand which drowns down in a turquoise sea. You don’t get it all at once: it lets you discover itself slowly: put your feet in the water and walk on. Get to the buoys, where you can still touch the ground. There you’ll get the sense of that aquamarine color.
The Plage Notre Dame is something else.
Sand of a peculiar color which tends to ocher, which accompanies yourself into the water with a soil made of pebbles… which ends a few steps after, to do space to the sand and the pale blue sea, that mixed with the sand color almost seems green. A unique color.
“I was happy only once, that was at Hyeres” –
Robert Louis Stevenson
Visit Porquerolles: how to get on the Island
It’s the southernmost part in French Riviera.
By the highway you need to follow to Marseille, exit at Toulon, and then go on towards Hyères.
By plane you can get to Toulon’s airport and then take a shuttle and get to Hyeres center in ten minutes. From thereyou need to get to the Tour-Fondue port, where ferries leave to the island at the cost of 19.50€, round trip.
On Porquerolles website you can find many useful infos.