Since Tuesday was a holiday here in France, what else was there to do but go out and explore some more of Provence!
The week before, we had spotted the Ile de Porquerolles from the village of Giens. I had commented that if the weather would cooperate, I wanted to go visit the island that we had seen from the ruins of the chateau.
Lucky for us, the day was perfect for an outing to the island.
We drove to Tour de Fondue which is where you catch the ferry that takes you to Porquerolles. The cost is 18€ round trip for an adult and it takes about 15 minutes for the crossing. There is no set time for the return ticket you just need to be sure you make it onto the last ferry of the day or you’ll have to spend the night or hitch a ride back to the mainland on some nice person’s boat, if you’re lucky 🙂
Once we landed on the island, I headed straight for the office of tourism. I wanted to be sure I got a map since I intended to make good use of the many hikes you can take around the island. The map costs 3€, but if you treat it right it will last you a good many trips back.
One thing that is very noticeable is that there are bike rental places everywhere. This is a biking community and nearly every trail on which you can walk, you can also bike. We didn’t bring our bikes that day but I have plans to return again for a day of biking. If you want to take your own bike on the ferry instead of renting one on the island you can do so and the cost is 13,50€.
We first took a look around the little village. There are a plethora of restaurants and also little stands to purchase fruits and veggies, ice cream, crepes and sandwiches. You will not go hungry here. Since we had eaten breakfast right before leaving the house, I chose to make my first meal an ice cream cone 🙂 What?? My mom wasn’t around to tell me no!
The buildings in the town are fairly new compared to the other villages we have visited. Beside some homes and businesses built a few decades ago, there is also a good majority of new homes and apartments near town center.
On this particular day, the island was not very busy. There were plenty of spaces in the restaurants and the village was comfortably laid back and calm.
We visited the church in the town square. It was built in 1850. The modest exterior mirrors the interior. Though not as elegant as some, it is decorated with some of the most beautifully sculpted, wooden pictures of art depicting the life of Jesus and the saints.
Above the entrance and exit doors hang some very large paintings and a very simple stain glass window.
Upon exiting the church we headed left and up a small street following signs to the Fort Ste. Agathe, said to have been built around the 16th century.
The trail leads you around a small hill and gives you a terrific view of the port and the open sea.
The hike is not long at all and once you reach the entrance of the fort, you have a magnificent view of the Mediterranean and vineyards. It just so happened that when we arrived at this point, the sun broke free of some clouds and showed us that gorgeous Mediterranean Sea blue that you usually only get to see on a postcard.
After some time gazing out at the view, we headed through the front gate of the fort. There is not much left inside the ramparts that you are able to see. The main door says private and you can’t enter into the interior of the fort. We were able to see the views of the valley and the vineyards and see some of the outside of the fort and old guard house, but I was disappointed that I couldn’t go inside. Upon exiting out the back gate, there is a large sign with information on the fort and its history. The story is told in both English and French.
We then headed left down a dirt road to see the Moulin du Bonheur or Windmill of Happiness, which is the name given to it in sarcasm, since the windmill never brought any happiness to the few families who lived on the island a few centuries before. Here there is also a sign with information about the history of the windmill that is told in both English and French. The windmill has been restored and it is in lovely condition. The view from the hilltop overlooking the valley is quite exceptional. You can take the short walk around the windmill, but you cannot go inside.
After some picture taking and view gazing it was off on our next hiking adventure.
Goodness, I think we’ve come to a cliff hanger! More to come…..