Just a short distance from the coast, the largest of the Hyères islands with its 7 km long and 2,5 km wide from north to south - 1 250 hectares -, a real little local paradise, is still as attractive as ever. However, it is better to come outside the summer period to appreciate all its beauty. The north coast is the most welcoming, with numerous sandy beaches bordered by pine forests and scrublands planted with broom, heather, myrtle and strawberry trees. The south coast is steeper and more indented, and the interior is sparsely populated.

In ancient times, the island was part of an archipelago cited in Greek mythology - the Stoechades -, and Ulysses would even have ended his days on the island of Porquerolles - at least according to legend. A few centuries later, the monks of Lérins settled in a fortified habitat on the heights - 5th century -, then the island did not escape the Saracens, barbarians and pirates, like the rest of coastal Provence - 8th-9th centuries. But Porquerolles hasn't yet filled his woes. Charles V's troops ravaged the island in 1535. In the 17th century, Richelieu launched a program of fortifications and the construction of forts on the island, which did not prevent it from being pillaged by the English and the Dutch. In 1810, Napoleon reinforced the garrisons of Porquerolles. Soldiers returning from the colonial wars, taking advantage of the special climate, come here for treatment. At the end of the 19th century, a new scourge ravaged the island: fire. An uncontained fire devastates more than half of its area.

At the beginning of the 20th century, in 1905, the Compagnie Foncière took possession of the island with a view to transforming it into a farm, but less than ten years later the company went bankrupt and the island was auctioned off to François-Joseph Fournier who, having made a fortune by discovering one of the largest gold seams in Mexico, bought it for a million francs and offered it to his wife as a gift from mariage ! The Fournier era began on the island. All the inhabitants are employed in wine production - important with 12,000 hl per year -, market gardening or fruit production - with citrus fruit, grapefruit, mandarins... -, or as craftsmen or servants in the service of the Fournier house. The island practises a kind of community life and is self-sufficient. A small electric factory supplies the farm and the streets of the village. A cooperative provides the inhabitants with food and clothing at the lowest rates. This golden age came to an end with the death of François-Joseph Fournier in 1935 and the beginning of the war in 1939. Three years later the island was occupied by Italy, then by Germany the following year. She was liberated on 22 August 1944 by Senegalese riflemen. In 1971, the French State bought a large part of the island, thus protecting it from untimely concreting and gave it back to the Port-Cros National Park, which manages it. Since 1979, the Porquerolles Botanical Conservatory has been safeguarding the Mediterranean flora and, thanks to the island's sanitary isolation, it keeps collections of fruit genetic resources free from the pathogens that ravage fruit trees.

Today, the village of Porquerolles is almost a hamlet, with a few hotels and restaurants, a few fishermen's houses around the Place d'Armes, and a very small marina. Particularly lively in summer, it offers a nice program of festivities from May onwards. In 2018, remember the Porquerolles week from 9 to 13 May, the Challenge Serges Feuillâtes Yacht Club de France on 19 May, the Porquerolle's Cup on 19 and 20 May, the Porquerolles Classique festival from 7 to 10 June, as well as the Porquerolles Jazz Festival in July and the Clair de Lune festival in September.

To get to know the island in all its nooks and crannies, don't forget to buy the Petit Futé Porquerolles Travel Notebook!

The must-see places in Porquerolles

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