For those of you who stay in Port Grimaud for the holidays, we recommend you take a trip to Porquerolles.
Porquerolles is one of four islands which make up the group of islands known as Les Iles d’Hyères, or ‘The Golden Islands’ as many people seem to refer them as. Porquerolles is actually the largest of the four islands. It is also the closest island to France. This makes it incredibly popular amongst the tourist crowd. If you are heading to Porquerolles thinking that it has all the glitz that the French Riviera boasts then think again. The vast majority of Porquerolles lacks any real development (we will come to the reasons as to why soon). This means that the island is mainly suited for those who want to be at ‘one with nature’ and just explore a beautiful Mediterranean Island.
The most recent history of the island began back in 1820. It was at this time that the village on the island, which still exists to this day, was established. The village grew at a fairly steady rate over the years. It is still fairly small (only 200 people are permanent residents of the island), but it does boast a rather beautiful church and lighthouse. In 1912 a gentleman known as Francois Joseph Fournier purchased the island for his wife. It was at this time about 500 acres of the island became dedicated to vineyards. The wine that was produced on this island was the first to be classed as ‘vin des Côtes de Provence’, and as any wine-lover will tell you; that is a pretty decent wine.
The French wanted to preserve the beauty of the island. As a result they purchased 80% of the island in 1971. They then created a national park out of it (the other half of the national park is on the nearby island of Port-Cros). Absolutely zero development is allowed in the national park area. This means that those who visit the island will be able to experience the true beauty of it. There are gorgeous forests to walk through, cliffs to get stunning panoramic views from, and gorgeous sandy beaches to relax on. This area is truly beautiful.
Now just because the village is small does not mean that there is not a lot to do. As mentioned at the start the island of Porquerolles tends to have a rather laid-back feel to it. There is no hustle and bustle here, even in the high tourist seasons. The culture is very different from mainland France. To me, Porquerolles has an almost ‘classic’ French feel to it. There are fantastic places to eat, wonderful places to drink, and some beautiful scenery to feast your eyes upon. If you head to the island during the summer then you may even be able to catch a glimpse of the ‘Jazz á Porquerolles’, a Jazz festival that has been held on the island each and every summer since 2010. It has gone from strength to strength too with some pretty decent jazz musicians taking the stage throughout the festival.