This is the largest and westernmost of the Iles d’Hyères. It has a rugged south coast,
but the north strand, facing the mainland, is made up of sandy beaches bordered by
heather, scented myrtles, and pine trees. The island is about 8km (5 miles) long and
2km (11⁄4 miles) wide, and is 5km (3 miles) from the mainland.
The population is only 400. The island is said to receive 275 days of sunshine annually.
It’s a land of rocky capes, pine forests twisted by the mistral, sun-drenched vineyards,
and pale ocher houses. The “hot spots,” if there are any, are the cafes around
place d’Armes where everybody gathers.
The island has had a violent history of raids, attacks, and occupation by everybody
from the Dutch, English, and Turks to the Spaniards. Ten forts, some in ruins, testify
to a violent past. The most ancient is Fort Ste-Agathe, built in 1531 by François I. In
time it was a penal colony and a retirement center for soldiers of the colonial wars.
The French government in 1971 purchased the largest hunk of the island and
turned it into a national park and botanical garden.
WHERE TO STAY & DINE
Le Relais de la Poste On a small square in the heart of the island’s main settlement,
this pleasant and unpretentious hotel is the oldest on the island—it opened
“sometime in the 19th century” and is managed by the good-natured sixth generation
of its founding family. It offers Provençal-style rooms with loggias. Most rooms are
small to medium in size, and each comes with fine linen on a twin or double bed. Inroom
amenities are lean except for a phone. Bathrooms are compact and well organized,
with shower stalls. The hotel has a billiard table and a crêperie that sells only
snack-style dessert crepes and fresh fruit juice.
Place d’Armes, 83540 Porquerolles.&04-98-04-62-62. Fax 04-94-58-33-57. www.lerelaisdelaposte.com. 30 units.
80€–114€ ($104–$148) double. No credit cards. Closed late Oct to Easter. Amenities: Bar; lounge; bike rental.
Mas du Langoustier In a large park on the island’s western tip, this tranquil
resort hotel is an old mas (farmhouse) with a view of a lovely pine-ringed bay. Employees
greet guests in a covered wagon by the jetty. Guest rooms, in antique Provençal
style, are the most elegantly decorated on the island. Bathrooms are roomy, and most
have tub/shower combinations. Should you visit only for a meal, the menu is the finest
in the Hyère islands, offering mainly seafood in a light nouvelle style. Try loup (wolf
fish) with Noilly Prat in puff pastry, or tender kid with dried tomatoes roasted in casserole.
The house wine is an agreeable rosé. You can drink and dine on the terraces.
83400 Porquerolles.&04-94-58-30-09. Fax 04-94-58-36-02. www.langoustier.com. 50 units. 177€–248€ ($230–
$322) double; 263€–297€ ($342–$386) suite. Rates include half board. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: 2 restaurants;
bar; limited room service; babysitting; laundry service; limited-mobility rooms. In room: A/C, TV, dataport, minibar,
safe. Closed late Sept to mid-Apr.