In the sea near the Giens peninsula in Var lie some true gems of the Mediterranean: the Hyères Islands. Romantically nicknamed the Iles d'Or ("Golden Islands"), they consist of three main islands, which are Porquerolles, Port-Cros and Le Levant, islets and rocks.
The island of Porquerolles is the biggest, just a few minutes by boat from the Giens peninsula. With its turquoise water, whose purity is rivalled only by the beauty of the location, it's a real little paradise! On foot or by bike, explore the paths amid the maquis shrubland and pine forests. With its coast of coves and sandy beaches, Porquerolles has many more treasures to offer. There is the village, so characterful, but also the Fort of St. Agatha dating from 1531 and the lighthouse built in 1830. It towers over the island from a height of 84 metres and has a range of 54 kilometres. The island also possesses several wineries, perfect places to stop and enjoy a tasting. Take a stroll in the beautiful Emmanuel Lopez Garden in the shade of olive, laurel and palm trees, explore the sumptuous seabed or admire the contemporary art exhibitions and sculptures at the Villa Carmignac, an old Provençal farmhouse nestled in the heights of Porquerolles.
Classified as a National Park since 1963, the island of Port-Cros, the wildest and best-preserved of the three, is the number one marine national park in Europe. Its environment is characterised by steep cliffs, dense maquis shrubland, forests of holm oaks and Aleppo pines, and an exceptional sea bed! Although it only has a few beaches, its turquoise waters are very inviting for swimmers. Put on flippers, a mask and a snorkel then follow the marked underwater path that starts at La Palud beach, to admire the wonders of the Mediterranean sea bed. Motor vehicles are not allowed on Port-Cros and it's all the nicer for it! Walk along one of the paths to discover all the island's natural and cultural beauty spots. The latter include several old military forts like the Fort du Moulin, the oldest, which was built during the reign of Francis I, and the Fort de l'Estissac, built in the time of Richelieu in 1635.
The island of Le Levant, for its part, is the most unusual. Indeed, it is famous for its naturist resort, founded in 1931. At the heart of the garrigue scrubland and beautiful greenery, the little village of Héliopolis sprang up and became the island's main hub. For naturist bathing, head to the Plage des Grottes, the only sandy beach on the island, set in a little rocky cove. A pleasant marked path will allow you to explore the inland area as well as the seaside.