For our second wedding anniversary, husband and I headed off to the South of France for a 10 night break.
Porquerolles came on to my radar via my obsession with travel pics on Instagram. I follow a fair few world travel accounts and on one non-eventful and probably overcast English day over a year ago, the photo of a beautiful beach popped onto my feed and within minutes I was whirring up the laptop and googling.
It’s becoming a ‘thing’ of ours this. Seeking out destinations that are non obvious. It’s one of my favourite ‘things’ to do right now. The wanderlust grows daily.
Situated off the South Eastern coast of the Var region of France, Porquerolles is one of 3 tiny islands that make up the Îles d’Hyères. Just 4 x 2 miles in size, this natural beauty of an island has a population of mere hundreds. After I shoved numerous pics of the island under the nose of hubby, I got the OK to investigate a stay there.
Being so tiny, the Island is notoriously quick to get booked up. Panicky, I power-researched the hotels, saw that Les Medes rated fairly on Trip Advisor and proceeded to make a reservation. 4 nights at the end of our French adventure, early July 2013. We’d made it in.
To get to Porquerolles from the mainland couldn’t be easier. It’s a 15 minute ferry ride away from the La Tour Fondue at Giens port and the travel cost is around €18 return per person. No need to pre-book your ferry. They run every half hour.
Our transfer-to-Porquerolles-day was the one murky day of our whole holiday, so we didn’t get the best views coming into the island’s port and as we disembarked, little cooling raindrops were there to greet our sun-pricked faces.
Porquerolles operates a ’no car’ policy. You can get around by bike and hire shops there are a’plenty. You will see the odd vehicle though, ones probably belonging to those who live on the island and for logistical reasons, but they are few and far between, and you are surprised and a bit disgruntled when you do see one. Bike hire is around €10 per day which included a 20% discount granted to us as guests of Les Medes.
THE HOTEL – LES MEDES
A 2 minute walk into the village and we are at Les Medes hotel. Our room was ready (even though we were early) and the neatly uniformed staff are very welcoming. We are on a bed and breakfast basis and our room has a compact kitchen area which came in very handy…
Breakfast at the hotel is typically French. Breads, pastries, fruit, cheeses, yogurts and conserves. You collect and mount up your tray from inside then head up some stairs to the garden.
Annoyingly, it wasn’t until our last morning at Les Medes that we realised that through a little gate in the garden you come to a wider area with sunbeds, tables and a waterfall feature that the island’s doves like to splash about in. However, I think with all the island has to offer, you wouldn’t choose to spend all of your time in the hotel’s grounds but nice to see they’ve created a little ‘in house’ oasis should guests be inclined.
I would return to Les Medes for sure. It is in the centre of the village, the staff are very helpful, it’s clean and caters for just what you need.
Husband and I love to swim so on day one, we walked to find our most local beach; Plage de la Courtade. It’s a crescent of white sand and green waters. The shore of this beach is a little busy with weeds but beyond that it’s very pleasant.
On day two we hire bikes and take a 20 minute divine cycle to Notre Dame beach; the beach to visit on your stay on Porquerolles. The ride is so wonderful. You whizz along tree-lined paths, the breeze most welcome on your skin and before long the fragrance of eucalyptus bombards your senses.
There are no sun beds on the beaches of Porquerolles. They are bare, au natural. You’d therefore be wise to take a towel and something to rest your head on. And shade isn’t always available either, so investing in a sun brolly also wouldn’t go amiss. Temperatures were around the 32 degree mark on average during our stay. Pack a snorkel too. Schools of fishes are in abundance.
Much like the sun bed situation, beach bars are also largely a no go here. So pack water, head to the supermarket and stock up on food. Adorably, there does tend to be a little boat shop that floats by in the most shallow of seawaters as you are soaking up the sun on the sand.
THE NATIONAL PARK
On our last full day, we again hired bikes and decided to go further afield, around the national park. We meandered around vineyards and fields and eventually come to the remarkable Gorge Du Loup. I stay up top (unsuitable footwear darling), whilst hubs goes exploring by climbing down the steep drop to the glistening turquoise waters.
1. RESTAURANTS – During our stay on the Island we visited and would recommend:
Pelagos – We tucked into calamari to start, duck and tuna steaks for our mains and finished off by sharing a chocolate and caramel pudding.
Escale – Overlooking the port. We shared tapas platters, watched the sun set over the water and rounded off our meal with a generously alcoholic amaretto coffee each!
Caffe Rosso – Do not judge a book. This looks like nothing special at all. Turns out it was our favourite meal during our stay. It’s on the port, past where you would pick up the ferry. Excellent food and service. We quaffed down antipasti and sword fish.
L’oustaou – A good lunch choice. A bit of an edgier restaurant with cool waitresses. And nice burgers.
A dusty hive of activity, crowned by a big white church. Little shops line the square, kids can burn off some energy in a play area, and hired bikes are parked up next to every tree.
After our main meals at restaurants, it swiftly became mandatory to then choose one of the many ice cream parlours for a double cone. The choice of flavours available is unreal.
There is one main grocery shop in the village. It gets busy. We would stop off here to get a freshly cooked rotisserie chicken and some salad to make into our lunch before cycling off to the beach. A wise move.
So, now that it’s ticked off our list why don’t you book yourself a stay on Porquerolles?