Home > Destinations > Urban > Hyères

Hyères

Côte d’Azur, Var

43.119879,6.13161
43°7'11.56"N 6°7'53.8"E
Published: February 2010
last updated: March 2011
article versions : en | ru
|

The visit

The most southern town of Provence is also the most spread along the coast. Together with Giens peninsula and the islands Hyères occupies Hyères over 13 thousand hectares, only 1/3 of which is urbanized. This is also the oldest seaside resort of France, which gave birth to the legendary name Côte d’Azur (Azure Coast). Thanks to its unique microclimate Hyères has become the centre of palm-tree cultivation in Europe - you will find in town over 7000 trees.

Beaches: Overwhelming majority of tourists come to Hyères for a first-class seaside vacation. The town has more than a dozen of beaches, seven of them along the coast of Giens peninsula and two belong to the nearby village Les Salins. The biggest and the most famous (but also the most crowded) beach of Hyères is L’Almanarre. Hyères has a number of nautical sports centres adapted for all levels and ages. Its bases are regularly used for world-level competitions, such as preolympic regatas, diving championships, etc.

Islands: The lovers of nature come to Hyères to see three islands: le Levant, Port Cros and Porquerolles. These islands are known as les îles d’or (golden islands), as in the light of the setting sun their rocks look golden. The three islands are protected natural areas with rich flora and fauna, some types of which are endemic to the area. The islands have excellent diving conditions and abundance of underwater life. There are only seven national biological parks in France, the oldest of them is situated on the Port Cros island. The park includes terrestral and marine territory and has over a hundred species of birds, 180 species of fish and 500 types of seaweeds. You can discover the park during the walking tours, whereby you will also visit medieval fortresses built to protect Hyères from the pirates, or on a boat tour around the islands. If you can, take a day only for golden islands.

Parks: Hyères has three parks marked “jardins remarquables” (outstanding gardens). Parc Saint-Bernard, once a private property, surrounds famous Villa Noailles. Situated in the heart of the old town, it proposes a rich collection of mediterranean plants and a wonderful view on the town and islands of Hyères. Another park in the downtown, Parc Sainte Claire surrounds the villa that once belonged to american novelist Edith Warthon. The park has great variety of australian and south-american flora. Parc Olbius Riquier is the pride of Hyères. Founded in Hyères 1868, this park has one of the richest botanic collections of France, as well as a zoo and amusement park for children. Entry to all parks is free.

Medieval town: until XIX century Hyères stayed a small medieval town, built on the hillside and encircled by ramparts. Behind those ramparts you will find the atmosphere, so typical for fortified medieval burgs: narrow streets, small squares, churches that ressemble military fortresses. The rule is simple: walk up to reach the oldest part of the town and don’t forget to look around for medieval landmarks. The first and the most important is La Tour Saint-Blaise: this tower, constructed in XII century is all that rests of a commandery of the order of Templar Knights. Walk higher up to reach the first line of ramparts and Saint-Paul church (l’église Saint-Paul). The second parish church of Hyères (you will only see the ruins of the first - église Saint-Pierre) has been reconstructed in XVI century, however it preserves some elements of earlier XII century nef. In the church you will see the exposition of votive offerings that illustrate the history of religious wars in Provence. New parish church - l’église Saint-Louis belonged to the Franciscan order. It was built in XIII century in roman and early gothic styles. On the top of old town you will find what rests of the oldest medieval part of Hyères - “ville haute” (high town). This area was abandoned in XIV century, while the population moved to a more spacious “ville basse” (low town). Now only the ruins of the castle of Hyères, destroyed in 1620 and the remnants of first ramparts remind of this era.

Hyères has a dozen of historic monuments in modern style (XIX- early XX century). Villa Noailles and Castel Sainte-Claire are both built in the medieval town. La Maison de Paul Bourget and le Parc Hotel are now serving as art galleries. Others, like la Maison de Saint Hubert, la Villa Tunisienne and la Villa Mauresque can be admired from the outside.

History

History of Hyères begins in IV century B.C. with the foundation of greek port Olbia. It was an important naval port until ints destruction in VI century by the franks. The first medieval lord of Hyères, Pons de Fos, vicomte of Marseille, ordered construction of the castle of Hyères. In XIII century the house of Fos is forced to sell all its possessions in Hyères, including the castle, to Charles d’Anjou, count of Provence. In XIV century is one of the most important towns of Provence, but the epidemic of plague of 1347 kills over a third of its population and undermines the development of the town for more than a century. In 1481 with the rest of Provence Hyères comes under the authority of France. The town suffers a lot from the piracy and naval invasions, it asks Francis I an authorisation to build protective forts on the surrounding islands.

The hour of glory of Hyères comes in XVIII century with the development of tourisme. Thanks to its very mild climate Hyères becomes the most important winter resort of France, attracting the rich and famous. During this period the town gains its aristocratic and eccentric reputation. World-famous writers, artists and politicians spend winter vacation in Hyères. In XX century Hyères starts receiving tourists in the summer. With over fifteen beaches it is one of the most important seaside resorts of french Côte d’Azur.

Practical information

Coming to Hyères by car take autoroute A8 in the direction Toulon and then A570 until Hyères. The town has a small international airport Toulon-Hyères offering daily connections with Paris and some major european cities, such as Brussels, London, Rotterdam and Stockholm. It also has a SNCF train station and buses that go to Toulon TGV station. There are bus connections between Hyères and neighbouring Toulon and other towns of Côte d’Azur up to Nice.

To visit the islands take one of the boats departing from the port of Hyères. You will need fifteen minutes to get to Porquerolles and one hour to go to Port Cros and le Levant.

Quiet in off-season, in summer Hyères has a rich cultural agenda coupled with animated nightlife. The downside is that you will have to share the town with hundreds of thousands of tourists, who have chosen Hyères for their vacation.

Comment on this article

1

Hyères - ville medievale Vieille ville et l'église Saint-Paul Hyères - ville medievale Hyères Hyères - ville medievale Hyères - ville medievale

2

Hyères - ville medievale Hyères - ville medievale Hyères - ville medievale Hyères - ville medievale Château de Hyères Hyères panorama

3

Hyères - ville medievale Hyères - ville medievale Hyères - ville medievale Hyères - ville medievale Hyères - ville medievale L'église Saint-Paul

4

Hyères - ville medievale La Tour Sainte-Blaise Hyères panorama Hyères - ville medievale Hyères - ville medievale

Professionals :

If you wish to appear on this spot, contact us