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.