In Var, there is a town with 2,400 years of history. This place is Hyères, some twenty kilometres east of Toulon. Known as "the palm tree town", Hyères has lost none of its historical charm. To explore, wander the picturesque side streets of the old medieval town perched on the Castéou hill.
Enter through the Porte Massillon gate, which marks the entrance to the historic centre, then wander around to see old houses with colourful façades, brightly coloured market stalls or a vaulted passage under the old ramparts. At the top of the hill is the castle of the Lords of Fos, built in the 11th century. The town developed around it as time went by. Now in ruins, the medieval fortress offers visitors stunning views over the Bay of Hyères and the Maures Massif!
For a well-deserved break, head to the beautiful Place Massillon where you can sit out on one of its pleasant café or restaurant terraces.
As far as religious heritage is concerned, you can choose between the 12th-century Chapel of St. Blaise, also known as the Templar Tower, which has been converted into an exhibition space, and the 13th-century Church of St. Louis in the Romanesque and Gothic styles. Inside the latter are 19th-century organs, a beautiful stone altarpiece, a marble Madonna and a Christ on the cross from the 17th century. The Collegiate Church of St. Paul, meanwhile, is in the Provençal Romanesque style and dates from the 12th century. It possesses one of the biggest collections of ex-votos in the country and is enhanced by splendid stained glass windows and altarpieces.
Hyères also has some wonderful gardens and parks. Don't forget to take a stroll in one of its remarkable gardens, such as the Saint-Bernard Park with its exotic and Mediterranean plant species, located in the heights of the medieval city, or the Olbius Riquier Park featuring colourful flowerbeds, palm trees and exotic plants. You also have the Sainte-Claire Park which overlooks the town, with subtropical species flowering all year round. You'll be treated to many delightful colours and scents! Finally, the garden of the Villa Noailles is a must-see: in addition to its Cubist area and Mediterranean garden, you'll find an avant-garde residence from the 1920s where patterns of cubes mingle with light effects.
South of the town centre, a stone's throw from the sea, the archaeological site of Olbia is the only preserved site of its kind on the Mediterranean coast. An exceptional place, therefore, where excavations have unearthed thermal baths, cobbled streets, sanctuaries and dwellings, and established that the settlement dates back to the 4th century BC. From May to October, put on a mask, flippers and snorkel to explore the underwater archaeological trail and admire the wonders of this protected area!
Continuing eastwards, the Hyères salt marshes promise landscapes of rare beauty. The fauna and flora are particularly abundant: more than 200 species of birds and 300 varieties of plants. A joy for nature-lovers…
Finally, to round off your visit to Hyères, head to one of the town's pleasant beaches. The long, beautiful expanses of fine sand, like those of L'Almanarre or La Capte, are ideal for swimming and sunbathing!