Porquerolles also known as the Île de Porquerolles, is an island in the Îles d’Hyères, Var, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France.
Porquerolles is the largest, most westerly of the three Îles d’Hyères. It is about 7 km (4.3 miles) long by 3 km (1.9 miles) wide, with five small ranges of hills. The south coast is lined with cliffs, and on the north coast are the port and the beaches of Notre Dame, La Courtade and Plage d’Argent.
Much of the island is now part of a national park (the Port-Cros Parc National) and nature conservation area (Conservatoire botanique national méditerranéen de Porquerolles)
How to get to Porquerolles?
If you are or can make your way to Hyères, which is a 25 minutes drive from Toulon, boats leave from its harbour all year round. The harbour is called La Tour Fondue and the company running the service is TLV.
The alternatives are taking the boat from one of the bigger cities around such as Toulon, La Londe-les-Maures or La Seyne-sur-Mer. The company running these services is Bateliers de la Côte D’Azur from April to September.
When booking you tickets online, my advice is to double-check date and time, as we had a little misunderstanding in Toulon. We stayed there and had a pleasant dinner out. If you do that, bear in mind that Toulon is a significant naval base and the harbour is home to submarines and warships, as well as fishing boats and ferries.
There is also an airport at Toulon-Hyères with international flights. For more information visit the Tourist Office official website.
How To Get Around in Porquerolles?
Cars are not allowed on the island, so once you get to the port you will need to hire a bicycle (there are electric ones as well) or a scooter. People rush to the bike shops as soon as they set foot on the island, but don’t worry because there are enough.
Plage Notre Dame
Plage Notre Dame is the most beautiful and relaxing beach on the island and on the whole French Riviera (or Côte d’Azur). It was considered one of the top 10 beaches in Europe numerous times by multiple rankings.
The beach is a 45-60 minutes walk along a gravel path heading out from Porquerolles harbour / village center. The path is easy and you don’t need trainers, flip flops are ok. Several trails with stairs provide access to the beach.
However; most people rent a bicycle in the port, and then cycle for only 15 minutes. I recommend doing this and bringing some food and refreshments with you. This is a national park and there are no shops nor amenities near the beach (there was a guy selling ice-cream, beer and water at some point, but you cannot be sure). On the way, you will cross a few smaller and nice beaches, but none of them is as beautiful as Notre Dame.
The beach is long (it stretches about 800 meters) and completely unspoiled. The distance from the port makes is less crowded than other beaches such as Plage d’Argent. The whole setting is exotic, with a pine forest right at your back, shallow crystal clear waters for about 300 metres, and a mix of rocks and sand on the ground. But only 2 meters into the sea you’re on a sandbank and you can walk pleasantly.
Visitors normally start heading back around 3 pm as most of them need to catch their boats so it’s worth waiting if you can and going after lunch. An umbrella is always a good idea, but you may be able to get some shadow from the pine trees.
Plage d’Argent is, in my humble opinion, the second most beautiful beach on the island (at least from the ones I’ve been).
If you feel or are less adventurous, or have reduced mobility, or if you simply prefer having more facilities to enjoy your time, this is, without doubt, the best option.
It’s only 20-25 minutes on foot or 10 by bicycle from the village/port. It’s also a long and sandy beach with crystal clear waters and a considerable shallow bottom. It also well protected from the wind.
Facilities are available during high season, including a bar-restaurant, a rescue station, public toilets as well as a tiralo (beach chair for people with reduced mobility, stand up paddle rental and deckchairs.
Calanque du Brégançonnet
On the other hand, if you are or feel adventurous, Calanque du Brégançonnet could be your best option. But I would like to be clear on this point: this is more about the adventure than the beach/calanque itself.
According to Google is only a 10 minutes ride from the port, and mostly flat. But I wouldn’t consider it flat and easy. Maybe it was the heat and the fact that we actually cycled from Notre Dame, but I don’t remember that it was a super easy ride. At least I can say it was quite hilly at the end.
However; I really enjoyed it and crossing the island was a great experience. Vineyards, pine trees and narrow passages were part of the trip.
Once you get to the calanque, there is no much to see or visit. It is very small and rocky, as you can see in the picture above. Nonetheless, it’s more than enough for a refreshing splash before getting back to the other side.