Social Distancing Holidays

Avoid the crowds on the remote French island of Porquerolles

This remote French island is the perfect escape for a holiday, away from the crowds.

The French often describe Porquerolles as a ‘floating forest’ thanks to the olive groves and vineyards dotted across its surface. Stroll through town, snorkel in the impossibly clear water, or enjoy an idyllic picnic in the shaded areas of the beach, there’s something for everybody on this charming French island.

Where is Porquerolles?

Off the south coast of France, in the Mediterranean sea, lies a cluster of islands. These are the three Iles d'Hyeres, but Porquerolles is the largest of them at 7 kilometres wide and 3 kilometres long.

The island started out with a village in the 1820s, with a church and lighthouse added later. As a romantic gesture, Belgian explorer François Joseph Fournier bought the island as a gift to his wife Sylvia in the early 1900s, adding vineyards, but today Porquerolles is owned and protected as a national park by the French Government.

small brick building covered in a huge purple flowered bush with bicycles parked outside in the sun

How do you get to Porquerolles

Boats travel from La Tour Fondue harbour in Hyères to Porquerolles, with the company TLV, all year-round. The journey time is around an hour and 15 minutes.

Hyères is around an 11-hour-drive from Calais via the A26, so we recommend planning some stops in places such as Reims, Dijon in Burgundy, or Lyon along the way.

Ferries also travel from Toulon, La Londe-les-Maures or La Seyne-sur-Mer with the company Bateliers de la Côte D’Azur from April to September.

How to get around Porquerolles

Despite an abundance of rugged hills, Porquerolles is best explored by bicycle as there are no cars allowed in the island except for service vehicles. Many shops in the town offer rental services and it’s easy to find a place to lock your bike.

If you find the idea of hills daunting, you can rent an electric bicycle to help you tackle them from here.

person on a bicycle on a sandy woodland path under the shade of trees

Places to visit in Porquerolles

Head to the beach or visit some of the island’s historical sites, whatever you do you are surrounded by lovely landscapes.

Beaches

Every single beach on the island has its own charms, from Plage de Notre Dame with its highly scented eucalyptus trees to Plage D’Argent that’s name means ‘silver’ to reflect the shade of the soft sand. Plage de L’Aiguade is the next closest beach, although a little busy in summer.

Due to the size of the island, it’s easy to reach any of beaches. Plage de la Courtade is only a short walk from the port with a classic pine tree backdrop, while Calanque du Brégançonnet on the southern side of the island is more craggy rocks than soft sand, but a wonderful place to hike.

Calanque de Brégançonnet is around a 20-minute cycle from the village, but well worth the effort as it’s an incredibly peaceful inlet.

Fort Sainte Agathe

Fort Sainte Agathe overlooks the harbour of Hyères. It was first built in 1531 by King François as a garrison, which is why the walls are four meters thick. The tower was renovated in 2020 and inside the ceilings form a six-metre-high vaulted dome with an oculus (a circular opening in its centre). The terrace offers an exceptional point of view on the island and there’s a permanent exhibition on the history of the island which costs €5 to enter.

Eglise Sainte Anne

Originally a military chapel built between 1849-1851 Eglise Sainte Anne didn’t become a church until 1929. Its main attraction is the elaborate carvings of the Stations of the Cross, created by a soldier who was convalescing on the island in 1869. Each carving is from solid walnut made by meticulous knife work. The story of the soldier is an interesting one, detailed inside the church.

large stone building with wide tower and rocks surrounding it under blue sky

Things to avoid

Because of its national park status, the island of Porquerolles has some strict regulations to help protect the flora and fauna. For example, picking plants and taking samples is forbidden.

As we mentioned, visitors cannot bring cars to the area. Walking and cycling are the only transport options. It’s a good idea to pack the right footwear so you don’t get sore feet.

Fires and smoking are banned outside the village, so bonfires or barbecues on the beach are not possible. You also cannot camp anywhere on the island, so don’t bother packing a tent.

The best time to visit Porquerolles

This island is blessed with an excellent climate, getting around 300 sunny days a year. Winters are mild, but if you want to soak up the sun, summer isn’t too intense as there is often a good breeze coming in off the waters.

May to June or September to October are the best times to go for good weather, but this is when the tourist season is at its busiest. To avoid the crowds, November or April are perfect.

A tree lined wooden boardwalk leading to crystal blue waters and a sandy beach

If you are looking for an isolated holiday start with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle can get you from Folkestone in the UK to Calais, France in just 35 minutes. Travel with us to kick start your adventure to the island of Porquerolles.

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