A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Porquerolles, A Hidden Gem in South France


This name stumbled upon Google when I was searching for holiday destination under the term “South France off the beaten path”.

I began to spark my curiosity for this island’s existence due to three reasons:

  1. The fact that most of the island is covered in lush forests, beautiful beaches, and wonderful cliffs;
  2. On the 2004 population census, it was stated that only 200 people lived in this island; and
  3. The pathway to this island was not easy.

So, I decided to venture off to a country which language I did not understand, just to see what Porquerolles could afford me. “Surprise me, Porquerolles!” were three words I could say once I stepped out from the airplane in Marseilles.

I decided to go to Porquerolles on the second day of my vacation. According to weather report, it was going to be sunny all day long in Porquerolles. If you were interested on going to Porquerolles from Marseille, take the train to Hyeres from Marseille Gare du Saint-Charles. Stop at the final station (Hyeres), and after that you can take bus going to Port Fondue. From Port Fondue, you could buy a return ferry ticket to Porquerolles.

Now, a little bit history on the island. It was supposed to be a private island, bought by a Belgian adventurer named Francois Fournier. On the 1960s, the French government bought the island so that they could make a national park. Porquerolles was the biggest island out of three islands in Ile de Hyeres (the other two being named Port Cros and Ile du Levant) and in these three island, a national park under the name National Park Port Cros was established in 1960s.

Lines of ships under clear blue sky

Lines of ships under clear blue sky

Entering the port of Porquerolles, I felt like stepping back to old French movies. It was very quiet and very clean. Sure, there were a lot of tourists from the mainland who shared the same ferry as me, but the atmosphere of the island was still very peaceful. I walked to the tourist information and bought a map (a decision I regretted 5 minutes after, since the map was very expensive, about 3 euros each). My plan that day was to venture the island down south, because I wanted to trek through the forests and ended up being on top of one of the cliffs.

I spent 90 minutes trekking through several different tracks, from easy to medium, and I walked past by forests and vineyards until I arrived at a forest named L’oustaou de Diou. It was named based on Provencal dialect for “The House of God”. I walked through the forest, following the marked path, and I arrived at this beautiful and breathtaking fjord, the Calanque de L’oustaou de Diou. It was a very quiet and secluded beach. There were three other people chilling on the beach, but soon I was the only one there. I instantly felt peace and tranquility in this secluded fjord.

Vineyards on the way to L'oustaou de Diou

Vineyards on the way to L’oustaou de Diou

Calanque du L'oustaou de Diou

Calanque du L’oustaou de Diou

Too bad I didn’t visit the beaches, because I ran out of time. The hike to and from the fjord was very exhausting. I thought it was because of the scorching sun. A few hours later, I went back to Hyeres.

Porquerolles was indeed the highlight of my late summer vacation. It was definitely the secluded island you should never miss out.

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