Port‑Cros National Natural Park

The National Natural Park of Port-Cros includes the Hyères islands and a part of the Var coastline and its seabed. It has a strong built heritage that testifies to its history.

Territory and heritage

Porquerolles and the “Iles d’Or” (Port-Cros, Île de Bagaud, Île du Levant) offshore are part of the Port-Cros National Natural Park, which also includes part of the coastline. It has got attached to the Maures massif 20,000 years ago. These islands have a rich fauna and flora.

The island of Porquerolles is the largest of the Hyères islands with its 1250 ha. It is also the one that is the most inhabited. Over the centuries, many peoples have lived on this piece of land bordered by the turquoise water of the Mediterranean. The island’s built heritage testifies to a rich past: Sainte-Anne church, Sainte-Agathe fort or the fort of Repentance, converted into an Orthodox monastery. Porquerolles also has a beautiful natural heritage, which attracts many visitors each year. Its Mediterranean National Botanical Conservatory is dedicated to the preservation of endangered wild plants in the Mediterranean basin. This national collection includes different varieties of fig trees, olive trees, peach trees and mulberry trees.

Port-Cros Island is the smallest and is located in the middle of the Iles d’Or archipelago. It has a beautiful built heritage: Eminence Tower, Fort de l’Estissac and Port Man. These monuments were built at the request of Richelieu around 1630 to protect the island and its citizens from pirate attacks. The Island of Port-Cros welcomed many authors and artists. Paul Valéry, André Malraux, Jean Paulhan, Saint-John Perse and Jules Supervielle stayed there between the two wars. With its numerous forts, its Hélène manor house and its preserved nature, the islet offers many attractions.

The Levant Island stands out for its singular history. In 1150, Cistercian monks founded an abbey there before being kidnapped by pirates and sold as slaves. Centuries later, in 1811, Napoleon had a fort built to protect the island and the Titan lighthouse. The fort was named after him. In 1892, the State acquired 90% of the Island, the remaining 10% belonging to the Otlet family, in order to create a military base. Years later, this part, open to the public, was transformed into a naturist village, one of the first in Europe. The Ile du Levant enjoys a beautiful natural heritage, its reserve of strawberry trees extends over twenty hectares.

Tourist sites, emblematic monuments

The Fort de l’Estissac, located in Port-Cros, was built in 1635 to protect the coasts of Provence from the Spanish threat. In service until 1885, it was not restored until the 20th century. From the top of the fort, the view over the Hyères harbour is sublime. From there the Mediterranean seems to stretch endlessly. During the summer season, temporary exhibitions are organized there. They aim at raising awareness on the protection of the biodiversity of the Iles d’Or.

Fort Sainte Agathe overlooks the Porquerolles Island. Since Roman times, this strategic location has been used by soldiers to guard Hyères harbour and protect the surrounding villages from invasion and robbery. In 1531, King François I decided to fortify the building in order to establish a garrison. The 4-meter thick walls and the 6-meter high round tower have been completely restored so that the Fort can host historical and geographical exhibitions about the region.

The activities

The Hyères Islands are famous for their seabed and numerous diving sites, some of which are among the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. More than a simple discovery of a natural heritage, diving in its turquoise water is also an opportunity to explore the wrecks of the Donator and the Greek for example. Underwater trails have been set up to allow everyone to get to know the aquatic fauna and flora of the region.

In Port-Cros as in Porquerolles, there are a lot of beaches: Argent beach, Port-Man gravel beach, La Palud beach, La Courtade beach, South beach, Le Langoustier red-sanded beach. Visiors can enjoy a sunny swim there. Protected from the Mistral wind, Notre-Dame beach with its pine trees and oak grove is a true haven.

Hikers can explore the island of Port-Cros and discover the local fauna and flora on 30 kilometers of marked trails. In Porquerolles, they can hike 51 kilometers of marked trails. Cyclists can discover the island and its secrets on 4 itineraries. The Park House offers maps and bicycle guides.

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