Porquerolles Island, France: An Escape From the Frantic Côte d’Azur

Porquerolles island in France is the largest of the 3 islands in the Îles d’Hyères. It is a lovely travel destination, if you are in Côte d’Azur and you want to spend a day in a different way. It is away from the frantic life surrounded by unspoiled nature. Here you can swim in crystal and clear water, absorbed in the silence broken only by cicadas, among olive, eucalyptus and pine trees. If you are looking for an active nightlife then this place is not good for you. I will give you some tips to save money and enjoy Porquerolles island.

The fastest and most inexpensive ferries, by the ferry company TLV – TVM, depart from the port of Giens – La Tour Fondue, and the journey take only 15-20 minutes. Ferries also depart from Le Lavandou,but the journey takes 40 minutes and the cost is higher. The round trip is approximately €18 for adults and €16 children aged 4 to 10 years. Take your personal bicycle with you on the ferry (adult: €13.50, child: €10.50) or rent it on the island. Before planning your departure get a look on fares and schedules. You cannot move through the island by car or motorized vehicles such as motorcycles or quads. There are about 2 or 3 car parks in Giens at the harbor.

TIP: car parks rates vary often and maybe you are lucky enough to meet who will make you a good price (as it happened to me). I paid about €6 to stay until 18 (but I left earlier).

When you get to Porquerolles island, if you need a map you’ll have to buy it at the information office. It costs €2. This is really annoying. All tourists should be given the opportunity to have a free detailed map of the island. Do you agree?
I chose another solution. I asked the locals to show me the most beautiful spots in Porquerolles and I fled into the paths by simply following the signs. For the French, the most beautiful beach is Plage de Notre Dame. I totally agree. A French guy advised me not to spend many hours in the other beaches and I must say that I made the right choice. I did not have much time and so I spent those hours to relax and enjoy Plage de Notre Dame.

Walking on foot can become tiring and it is much more painful if you are with your kids. Rent a bicycle if you don’t have it yet. Head to the many rental shops in Porquerolles and compare the best rates. Prices range from €10 to €13 per bicycle for half day and from €16 to €20 for the whole day. Not quite as cheap as you can see. The renter will give you a map (and so you won’t pay €2). It will be perfect for juggling the island.
The pretty village of Porquerolles is located in the Northern coast. The main square is the Place d’Armes, where there are cute and small clubs and bars.

While the north is characterized by white sandy beaches and pine trees, the south has wilder landscapes, with cliffs and coves which are more difficult to achieve.

Porquerolles beaches I visited are:

– The Courtade. It is the largest beach in the island, closer to the country, 30 minutes walking from the center. It is the easiest to achieve in a short time from the port, walking across the east side up to the north coast.
Keep in mind that the beaches are not equipped (apart from Plage d’Argent, which has a small bar) so it’s much better to bring water and a hat to protect yourself from the sun and also some snacks.

– Plage de Notre Dame. It is a beautiful beach: clear water, tiny white pebbles, a pine forest in the background, a slight breeze and the absolute silence, or almost… the crickets will keep you company. You can reach it in 20 minutes by bike (the lanes that wind among the paths are not paved, so pay attention, I have several times threatened to fly out of my bike), and it is after La Courtade. Try to arrive early to avoid the bustle of people which began to flock to the beach already around 10 in the morning. Here is where I spent most of my time.
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– Plage d’Argent. It is the only beach where there is a kiosk. Here you can buy drinks and food. At the beginning, this beach is formed by a layer of black algae… not really nice. French don’t want remove them as a natural park.
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Someone also mentioned the Galère beach in the south-east of Porquerolles island, let me know what you think and if you’ve ever visited it.
If you decide to visit the lighthouse you have to know that it is very difficult to reach. People cannot visit it. It is located on the opposite side where cliffs overlooking the sea.

Lunch on the island can really expensive. My advice is to take a packed lunch to taste in the pines wood. I had lunch in a little place in the square but I was not at all satisfied. The price of a portion of potatoes and 2 salads was of €20. It is really too much. Do not take bottled water cause it is very expensive. Take a jug, the water is drinkable. We were 2 people and I spent only 6 hours in Porquerolles. We paid €70. Isn’t it too much?? Beware of the horseflies, sting even through clothing! They are real killers 😉

Porquerolles is a lovely gem but the only drawback is that it is very expensive! Following my tips you can enjoy the best time in one of the most charming French islands!

Have you ever visited Porquerolles or other French islands?

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