An Essential Guide to the Beautiful Porquerolles Island, France

Notre-Dame is a paradise beach – perfect for visiting by boat
Notre-Dame is a paradise beach – perfect for visiting by boat | © acongar / Getty Images
Alex Ledsom

Set sail for Porquerolles, a secluded island just off the coast of Hyères on the French Riviera. Pristine beaches, rolling vineyards and an 18th-century village are among the sights you’ll find within this unspoilt conservation area. Read Culture Trip’s guide to making the most of your trip to this Mediterranean island.

The best way to explore Porquerolles is by boat. Hire a vessel for the day with SamBoat, or book a multi-day sailing adventure with Dream Yacht Charter.

How to Get Around and What to See

There are three islands in this little group, but Porquerolles is the biggest and the most well-known; it is 7km (4.35mi) wide and 3km (1.86mi) long. You’ll likely arrive on the north side of Porquerolles, home to the only town and port on the island. Stroll up to the 14th-century Fort Sainte Agathe, which boasts 360-degree views over towards Hyères. Just around the corner is Villa Carmignac, a large art gallery filled with contemporary works from international artists. The north coast is also dotted with pretty beaches – Plage Notre-Dame is one of the most beautiful.

The area around Fort Sainte Agathe is a national park

The south side of the island is a little harder to reach, yet well worth a visit to see the towering cliffs and hidden coves. You can easily explore it by boat, or following the hiking and cycling trails that crisscross the island. Cars are not allowed, so bikes are the best way to travel – hire them at the port when you arrive.

Where to Eat

It’s best to take a picnic and provisions from the mainland as the village shop is limited and prices are much higher. However, there are a few restaurants on Porquerolles. In the heart of the village, you’ll find Le Pélagos, which serves good coffee as well as simple seafood dishes and cocktails later in the day. Over on the west side of the island, book L’Olivier restaurant inside Le Mas du Langoustier hotel. It’s a white tablecloth affair, with Provençal-style dishes featuring Mediterranean ingredients – make sure you order the catch of the day.

When to Go

Porquerolles boasts a wonderful climate – 300 sunny days a year, mild winters and hot summers with a cool sea breeze. Ideally, make your way here between May and June or September and October to enjoy the good weather, but avoid the crowds during peak season.

Relax on the beach and enjoy Porquerolles’ mild climate

What to Pack

This is a remote island without much in the way of shops, so make sure to bring what you’ll need, including practical footwear, rain gear (just in case), clothes to bike in, towels, sun cream and hats. If you want to take some relevant reading, the Belgian writer Georges Simenon set two of his novels here: Le Cercle des Mahé and My Friend Maigret.

How to Get There

First, make your way to the town of Hyères, which ferries travel to Porquerolles from year-round. Boats leave from the harbour, Tour Fondue, with the company TLV. Cars are not allowed on Porquerolles, so you’ll need to leave your vehicle in the small car park or there is free parking just above – get there early in the morning to find a space. In the winter, boats can sometimes be cancelled due to high winds.

Charter your own catamaran to discover deserted stretches of coastline

You can escape the crowds by hiring a boat for the day with SamBoat. Don’t worry if you’ve never sailed before, many vessels come with a skipper included, so you can kick back and enjoy the ride. Dream Yacht Charter offer more extensive multi-day sailing holidays along the French Riviera. Choose between a skippered or bareboat yacht (which requires sailing experience) to spend a little longer exploring this beautiful corner of the world.

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