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Presqu´ ile de Giens - Hyères

A mood of Mother Nature hast connected one of the Giens islands with the mainland and therefor created one of the rare flat areas in the otherwise constant up and down of this mountainous coastal area. From Hyères on the mainland a wide strip of sandy ground covers the distance of about 3 km to the rocky island. That strip is about 1000 meters wide and has flat sand beaches on each side and former saltines in its centre that are now a paradise for all kind of birds. Especially flamingos seem to like this place.

Hyères at the base of the peninsula on the mainland is a modern town with a busy airport at its eastern borders. The western parts of the city have merged with the outskirts of nearby Toulon. The seemingly only things of interest of this city are the supermarkets and a few surf / windsurf / kiteboarding shops.

But behind this agglomeration lies somewhat hidden a very nice historic town centre. Once you make it to the large Place Clemenceau you´ll find a very nice Vieux Ville at the foot of the western hill range. Narrow alleys lead through the Italian-style historic centre of the town which has quite a few points of interest. Climbing up these increasingly steep alleys to the top of the hill is very worth the effort due to the fantastic view over the town and the peninsula. Aside from the view the castle on top of the hill and particularly the Villa Noailles with its Bauhaus architecture and art collection are must-sees.

The peninsula or better the strip of sand between the island and the mainland was a windsurfing Mecca in the eighties. It even hosted a windsurfing world cup for a while and made hordes of German, Austrian and Swiss windsurfers invade the place in spring and autumn. The neon times when windsurfing was THE thing are long gone but the peninsula is still there and still gets regularly brushed by the Mistral. So windsurfers are still going there, a few younger locals and a bunch of old timers, often still using the equipment of their youth. They nowadays get joined by plenty of kite-boarders whom the flat and large beaches and the often light to medium strong winds suit best.

Surfers won´t have much fun here as the beaches very rarely get some swell. Despite the large flat area the parking situation is still as tricky as in the hectic eighties when your car is higher than 1.80 meters. The plague of bars due to hinder camping cars to enter the parking lots is still in full bloom in this area and we strongly recommend NOT coming to this area during peak tourist seasons (i.e. Easter Holiday and summer mass vacation time) with a van or camping car. You will despair and with a bit of (un)luck your vehicle will get stolen when you are out on the ocean.

The west side of the peninsula is a straight sandy beach with a narrow road running parallel (yes, it is restricted by a 1.80m bar) and a string of parking lots. Almanarre to the north still is THE hot spot, with a beach bar, a windsurf / kiteboarding school and a basic shop. At the bend of the coast in front of the bar you have a chance to get the Mistral winds side-onshore.  On the southern end La Madrague also offers a helpful bend in the coastline to avoid full onshores. It also hosts a large camping with short ways to the beach.

The east side of the peninsula has a very flat beach and in consequence a large area of shallow water. Easterly winds come full onshore. The whole beach strip from Giens to the yachting harbour to the north is accompanied by countless holiday homes and campings. Naturally every parking has a restriction bar letting only pass cars lower than 1.80m.

The rocky Giens island is military area at the west coast and offers very few possibilities to reach the ocean. Roads are tiny and parking lots are a rare occurrence. Offers nice walks though and near the small port harbouring a few sail boats and the ferry to Porquerolles you can find a few restaurants.

Check the gallery for more impressions of the peninsula and this gallery from Hyères