Set sail for the archipelago of the Iles de Lerins, just off the coast of Cannes. Stop by Sainte Marguerite Island, where the Man in the Iron Mask was once held captive. Visit Saint-Honorat Island, sampling wine at a restaurant run by local monks and produced from their own vineyard. This tiny island has been occupied by monks from as early as the 5th century AD. Sail on to the glamorous city of Cannes. Famous for its international film festival, take a tour of the city’s Palais des Festivals and walk down the red carpet. If glitz and glamour isn’t your thing, explore the mountain range of the Massif de I’Esterel and either hike or cycle through forest to the highest point.
Cast off for St-Tropez. Once a modest fishing village, the city is now a holiday paradise for the rich and famous. Head to Pampelonne Beach for some celebrity spotting, where part of ‘And God Created Woman’ was filmed. All of the beaches have toilets, change rooms and sun chairs for hire, or take to the water and try your hand at paddle-boarding. Wander around the old fishing quarter of La Ponche to get a feel of what St-Tropez used to be like, or stretch your legs along the city’s coastal trails. St-Tropez comes alive at night. If you’re thinking of heading to one of the many bars, restaurant or clubs make sure you have the appropriate clothes, as mere shorts and sandals won’t cut it here.
Less known and more modest than its neighbours along the Cote d'Azur, the charming seaside town of Cavalaire-sur-Mer offers 3 kilometres of white sandy beach where you can swim, snorkel or simply relax. Perhaps take a walk along coastal paths to quieter beaches or wander through wooded parklands along the Fenouillet path. In the evening, do as the locals do and feast on a ‘plateau de fruits de mer’ (fresh seafood platter) at a restaurant on the harbour.
Iles d’Hyeres Archipelago
Due to strict environmental protection laws, the Iles d’Hyeres (or Islands of Gold) boast a unique natural beauty. Head to Ile de Port-Cros. The smallest island in the archipelago has a big history, from the establishment of a monastery in the 5th century to raids by Barbary pirates in the 16th century, the founding of an artists’ colony after WWI and the ‘Battle of Port Cros’ during WWII. Rich in flora and fauna, in 1963 it became France’s first marine national park. There are no automobiles on Port-Cros, so walk along trails through unspoiled pine forests and snorkel in the clear waters surrounding the island. You'll also visit the largest island in the archipelago, Porquerolles, which is also a national park. Automobiles and smoking have also been banned on Porquerolles. The best way to explore the island is to hire a bike and take one of the well-marked trails out through ancient oak forests and fruit orchards. Alternatively, you may prefer to relax on the white sandy beaches to the north of the island.