Last weekend, we were lucky enough to be invited by Ouicar to visit the Giens peninsula in Hyères, just a few kilometres from Toulon. Why go to the weekend so close to home will you tell me? And quite simply because Provence has so many things to offer that it is not necessary to go far to be completely displaced and dazzled by nature.
For starters, where is the Giens peninsula? Most people don't know it and have never heard of it yet... If you know Porquerolles it is simply the place where you probably took the boat. If the peninsula of Giens is less renowned than its famous neighbour it is yet equally beautiful. Both depend on the commune of Hyères-les-palmiers. While the Côte d'Azur has suffered enormously from massive construction and still suffers greatly from boat pollution, the Giens peninsula and the Golden Islands are unique nature and ornithological reserves. The salines of Giens are for example a beautiful place to observe the flamingos.
How do I get to the Giens peninsula?
Since Giens is a peninsula, you can of course access it by boat, if you have one… Otherwise you will have to take the bus or your car because Giens is not served by the trains. There are only two possible routes to access: The Salt road (only open to cars in season) or the Route de Giens, passing through Hyères. As our weekend getaway was organized by OUICAR, we were entitled to a free rental. I chose a white and brown Mini Cooper, just because I like these little cars.
Regarding our experience on the use of Ouicar I think it can be extremely convenient when you live in town, or even to rent a pickup truck during a move, or a van if you are lucky around you! But like any particular relationship to particular, be vigilant with owners who give possible rendezvous points and do not want to go there a few hours before the agreed time because "it does not fix them" And give you a meeting point at 15km from the original place and 2h earlier… In short, it is a bit like with BlaBlaCar, very convenient but do not be riding on the schedules! I still think I would use this kind of service to rent a van or a pickup truck in the event of a move.
Where to stay in Giens?
Like any very touristy place, the Peninsula of Giens is full of accommodation of all kinds, airBnB, hotels, luxury camping or not, holiday village … There's something for everyone! We were staying at the Campéole campsite, a 4-star campsite, in front of the salt saline, in one of the bungalows facing the sea. The campsite we liked very much, besides the proximity with the beach, it is very nice because the cars there little and do not have the right to ride with some time for the tranquility of all. There are a lot of activities even in the back season and especially it is very clean. As we work on Friday we arrived a little late (9pm) which did not pose any problem to the staff who made us extremely well received.
Our bungalow consisted of a small open kitchen and very well equipped, with a table and a bench, a bathroom and a separate toilet, a double bedroom and a second bedroom with two single beds. The seat of the living room can unfold to make an extra bedding. You will have all the necessary maintenance, brooms, mop etc… A sponge will be offered on the spot with a roll of toilet paper, we found it nice and funny! But remember that in the campsites we bring back his dishwashing liquid and towels!
The setting was really nice, 30 degrees for a late September, and very quiet. The campsite offers a wide variety of activities for everyone and has a beautiful playground for children. Although we loved our location, I would never have put myself there in the middle of the season, precisely because of the play space, the restaurant and the show scene… There are more apart and quite charming locations!
Peninsula of Giens or Porquerolles?
We found an ideal setting to enjoy the Indian summer; who doesn't dream of being able to swim quietly in the sea again on the last weekend of September? However I would like to warn you sincerely, the peninsula of Giens and Porquerolles are hellish to do in the summer so the influx of tourists is dense. If you are looking for the calm and the natural I advise you not July and August, otherwise you will do your hikes in the queue new leu with dozens of other people and it is not very pleasant…
The special geographical location of the Giens peninsula allows the practice of several water sports such as funboarding, kitesurfing or sailing. Indeed, no matter what the wind, you will always have one of the two large beaches exposed and the other protected. It's enough for everyone! Thanks to Ouicar we were able to discover a thrilling activity that we would never go and try by ourselves: Kitesurfing!
So be honest, if I like the thrills like climbing, Accrobranche and others, I am not at all reassured by the sports of gliding. For those who do not know, kitesurfing is a sport of gliding is to evolve with a board on the surface of a body of water by being towed by a kite (kite in English) specially adapted, named Wing or sail.
For the lovers of nature, Giens is a place where to make sublime hikes, there are in particular the path of the coastline that makes all the tour of the island but I advise instead to do it twice over two days in order to take full advantage of the view and count Where to swim!
As with most hikes in the south, consider taking sunscreen and especially enough water with you as there is no spring. Even at the end of September, early October, it can be very hot and éffleurer 30 °! Giens is full of absolutely beautiful corners, do not hesitate to spread a little from the path to find sublime corners and admire the color of this transparent water!
I advise you to take a swimsuit and a towel in your backpack because you will not be able to resist poking a head to refresh yourself in these natural and preserved coves…
One of the places that most charmed me is called Polynesia, and when you see it, you understand why… However, I want to talk to you about an important detail in my eyes: Do not cross the fences that frame the trail, please. They are not there for your safety but to protect areas of revegetation. These are magical places, landscapes in large wild parts. If we do not respect them, we will not be able to access them soon. The Presque'île welcomes thousands of visitors every year, if everyone thinks "it won't change anything if I walk there" these are hundreds of steps that will trample the plants every day… So think about it before you go under the wires to take a picture, nature will thank you!
We had a great weekend and great activities, a big thank you to Ouicar for all these attentions! In addition they allowed us to meet Elisa, an Italian blogger who lives in Nice, a real dose of energy and good humour. I hope it makes you want to discover a little more this beautiful region that is the Var!