Hyères is a town on the French Riviera that also includes three islands: Porquerolles, Port-Cros, and Le Levant. To make things easier, I’ll be focusing primarily on what the tourism website calls the “Hyères Center,” as there are even more things to do on the islands, which I’ll get to later. This place is full of history, art, nature, and culture - it’s been the site of many films, and is even mentioned by several famous authors, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many others who created famous works here. All in all, the number of things to do here is endless—I highly recommend visiting the Hyères tourism site if you’re planning a visit.
Read on to find out the best 8 things to do in Hyères, France:
1. Explore Old Town
If you’re a fan of architecture, history, and culture, seeing Hyères’ Old Town is something you won’t want to miss. Walk down narrow streets, surrounded by French and Middle Age architecture, ramparts, stone walls, vaulted archways, and more. There are all kinds of shops to explore - from art and fashion, food merchants, selling market goods such as cheese, olives, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, coffee shops, and more. You can see the Collegiate Church of St. Paul, and in addition, you can tour the Templiers Tower, a medieval tower that was once both a chapel and a military tower.
Address: Place Massillon, Hyeres Center, 83400, Hyères
2. Get out on the water
One of the great things about being on the French Riviera is the Mediterranean Sea and in Hyères you can do some swimming, kayaking, boating, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, surfing, and more! Or you can just hang out at the beach. The Plage de l'Almanarre or Almanarre Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Hyères Center, stretching 3 miles (5 km) and running parallel to the well known Salt Road (Route du Sel), on which parking is available.
Address: Route du sel, L'Almanarre, 83400, Hyères
Website: Almanarre Beach
3. See the stars at the Observatory of the Peak of the Fairies
You don’t have to love astronomy to want to see the stars and Hyères has a special place where you can do just that! The planetarium is open to the public every Friday night, from October through June, and there is an amateur astronomy festival in July and August. You can visit the planetarium for around 1 USD a person.
The Observatory of the Peak of the Fairies
Address: The Mount of the Birds - Allée des Pinsons, Costebelle, 83400, Hyères
4. Hike around Presqu’ile de Giens
The Giens Penninsula is replete with gorgeous landscape, perfect for photo ops and taking walks. Rocky cliffs, the Mediterranean Sea, pine tree forests, and a rare double tombolo-geological formation are all you’ll need to keep you entertained. Walk along the Coastal Trail and enjoy some of nature’s finest sights. There are signposts that point out other sights along the way, such as the Fondue Tower, or the port of Niel. As a plus, Almanarre Beach is on its west side.
Address: Can be accessed by the Salt Road or the road to Giens.
Website: Giens Penninsula
5. Visit The Villa Noailles art gallery
This historical place is more than an art gallery. It was built in 1923, by the architect Robert Mallet-Stevens for a Parisian couple, Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles. Today, the home has a modern flare, with a cubist garden, designed by Gabriel Guévrékian, and has been extended to include an indoor pool and gymnasium. All year long there are various architecture and photography exhibits, and guests can wander through all the rooms and gardens. In April, the villa hosts the International Festival of Fashion and Photography and features a design festival in July. The best part is, admission is free!
Address: Montée de Noailles, Hyeres Center, 83400, Hyères
Website: Villa Noailles (In French)
6. Walk through a gorgeous park
There are many popular gardens in Hyères, including Saint Bernard Park and the Mediterranean Garden, which is just below the Villa Noailles. The aforementioned Route du Sel (or Salt Road) is also a popular walking spot and it conveniently connects to many popular tourist stops and other locations, but it also offers its own marvelous landscape. Here you might see some of the 200 species of birds found in Hyères, or the rare bloom of Lily of the Seas.
There’s also the Olbius Riquier Park, a botanical garden with free admission. There’s a pond, palm trees and exotic and rare plants, plus onsite activities for kids, other games, and concessions.
Le Parc Olbius Riquier
Address: Avenue Ambroise Thomas, Hyeres Center, 83400, Hyères
Website: Le Parc Olbius Riquier (In French)
7. Take in the historical sites
Fans of archaeology will enjoy the historic sites here. First on the list is the ancient Phocaean site of Olbia. This awesome fortified archaeological site is the only one to be completely preserved in the Mediterranean, and excavations have shown that the ruins are a maritime outpost - meaning a whole Greek colony once lived here! It was later occupied by the Romans and also went on to be an abbey in Medieval times.
Another major archaeological site is that of the castle ruins, which sit on a peak, overlooking Old Town. It was built in the 13th century, by the Lords of Fos, and today, guests can enjoy wandering among the stone walls and taking pictures on the balconies.
Address: Route de l'Almanarre, L'Almanarre, 83400, Hyères
Website: Ancient Olbia archaeological site
Address: Montée de Noailles, Hyeres Center, 83400, Hyères
Website: Château d'Hyères
8. Visit the islands
Full of fantastic beaches, archaeological forts, historical sites, orchards, and even a national park, the three islands of Hyères offer even more adventure. They all feature many water and other outdoor activities, but they each have their own charm as well. Porquerolles is home to things like the medieval Fort Agathe or the Porquerolles National Botanical Conservancy. Port-Cros has an underwater trail, the Port-Cros National Park, Estissac Fort, and Port Hollow. Le Levant is known for its naturism and grottoed beaches.
The best way to get to the islands is by ferry. Be aware it could take up to two hours or more, depending on which island you’re going to (the shortest distance is about and hour and a half to Porquerolles).
Address: Hyères, France
A French Mediterranean oasis
Outdoor adventure, vast history, and Mediterranean and French culture combined - there’s a lot to love about Hyères. Explore, eat great food, take lots of pictures, and enjoy your stay - maybe you’ll be as inspired as some of the great artists and writers who spent time here, and even included Hyères in their work.
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