Come fly with me for the day
One of the best perks of a life spent in the air is getting the opportunity to travel to some great destinations down route and experiencing the local culture. This week I visited one of my favourite places on our summer schedule; Toulon-Hyères, which CityJet serves twice weekly from London City Airport so sit back relax and come experience this hidden gem of the Cote D’Azur with me…
While not as well-known as some of its more popular neighbours the area has something to offer all travellers. Whether your interest lies in exploring the beautiful cobbled streets of Hyères medieval history, the hustle and bustle of Toulon’s night life or spending some time away on the picturesque island of Porquerolles, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
After touching down and a quick sprint to the hotel to drop off my bags I made my way to the beach side restaurant of La Marais (https://www.lemaraisplage.fr/). Located just five minutes walk from the airport in the beautifully trendy Port du Hyères, just like the slogans inside suggest, ‘sexy is everywhere’. Sitting on the terrace, watching the sail boats pass by and the sound of waves crashing on the shore you will instantly shift into holiday mode and find it hard to believe that just two hours earlier you were in the busy city of London.
After a leisurely lunch I decided to take a taxi up the hill to the ‘old town’, the medieval city centre of Hyères. The narrow lanes and pastel washed houses are a world away from the modern seafront and offers some fantastic local produce in the traditional French shops. In need of a rest it was time for an aperitif in one of the many local bars, watching the world go by. The next morning after a typically French breakfast of pain o’ chocolat and a coffee, I again made my way to the port area to take the short boat journey to Porquerolles island. The journey offers some of the best views looking back along the coast, showcasing the beauty of the French Riviera.
The Island which has a population of just 200 was bought by the French government in the 1970s and is largely untouched thanks to its granting of national marine park status (a first of its kind in Europe). On arrival I decided to rent a bike and explore the island at my own pace. There are plenty of options at the ferry port and prices vary from 10e-20e for half/full day rentals with over 60km of marked trails there is something to suit all abilities. If you're not feeling quite as adventurous there are guided tours available also.
- After a morning exploring it was time to head back to the mainland and move down the coast for an evening in Toulon. Located just 15 minutes by train or 25 minutes drive it is home to one of the areas main ports. I checked into Hotel Les Voiles (www.hotel-voiles.com). The modern hotel is in a prime location, over looking the harbour and offering uninterrupted sea views. After several recommendations I decided to check out the most famous attraction in Toulon (after the rugby team!), the Faron cable car. The only one of its kind in the Mediterranean, it reaches the summit of Mt. Faron in just six minutes. On reaching the top there are breath taking views across the bay of Toulon and, if you have the energy, sign posted walks and hikes. For those interested in history, the museum of the landing in Provence located in Beaumont tower commemorates the liberation of southeast France by the allies in august 1944.
After a busy day it was time to retreat to the hotel for a short rest and get ready for an evening out. As dusk fell I started the night with a drink on the hotel’s roof top bar before making my way down to the area of Le Mourillon which is famous for its nightlife. This beautiful beach front area is everything you would expect of the French Riviera, with an abundance of dining options to suit all tastes and plenty of bars which remain open till the early hours against the backdrop of the sea. Waking early the next morning to catch the last of the sunshine, there was still so much to see and do. However, it was time to go to the airport – a short hop by car -to catch my flight home. I know it won't be long until I'm back again.