Just a stone throws away from Saint-Tropez lies Ile se Porquerolles, one of the Jewels of the Mediterranean and a little corner of paradise on the Cote dAzur.
Head out from the Gulf of Saint-Tropez past the Ile du Levant and Port-Cros and you come to the Ile de Porquerolles, the largest of the three LIles dOr in the Hyères Gulf. Together, they are known as the Jewels of the Mediterranean, with Porquerolles in particular forming a little corner of paradise.
Despite its modest size (around 20 square kilometres), the island offers the Michelin-starred Restaurant LOlivier in Le Mas du Langoustier a wonderfully traditional hotel. The loveliest beach, Notre Dame, is favoured by superyachts and is usually uncrowded, being a one-hour walk from the ferry port.
The real draw of Porquerolles, which is a protected island, is the stunning colour of the sea, fading from brightest turquoise to sapphire blue. The secluded bays also offer some of the best anchorages in the Mediterranean.
This tranquille island, where cars are banned, is a relaxing step back in time. Locals play petanque in the oleander- and bougainvillea-festooned village square of Place dArmes, while many visitors are content to sip pastis at one of the small open-air cafés.
However, this is not all the island has to offer. Although just 7 kilometres long and 3 kilometres wide, Porquerolles has a wonderfully varied landscape, with cliffs, creeks, plains and forest. Outdoor activities include hiking, horse-riding and mountain-biking, while watersports lovers can choose from diving, windsurfing or fishing.
The white sand beaches fringed with pine and eucalyptus trees are idyllic: Plage Notre Dame is a favourite of superyacht owners, and one that they have to share with few others since it is a 50-minute walk or 20-minute cycle ride from the port. The other beaches of La Courtade and Plage dArgent are equally beautiful.
In contrast to the gentle north coast, the south coast boasts vertical cliffs rising out of the sea, offering wonderful views of calanques, rocky points, gorges, headlands and hills. Many visitors choose to admire this wild, majestic landscape from the lighthouse, from which there is a 360-degree view of the island.
Discerning travellers will have discovered Le Mas du Langoustier, one of the most luxurious but isolated hotels in the south of France. Set among pine and eucalyptus trees on the west coast of the island, it is full of antique furniture and Provençal charm.
Facing the hotel is Le Fort du Grand Langoustier, with its ancient stones; and on each side are the beaches of La plage blanche and La plage noire. Adding to the allure for guests is a Michelin-starred restaurant serving Mediterranean and Provençal-inspired cuisine.
Porquerolles has almost year-round sunshine (it is located on the same parallel as Cap Corse). The Parc National de Port-Cros and the Conservatoire Botanique National de Porquerolles work assiduously to protect the islands heritage and environment, ensuring that visitors will be able to enjoy its natural beauty for many years to come.