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Travel in France





Var (France): “Hyères is the garden of the French Riviera”

Interview with Christine De La Forest, Director of the Hyères Tourism Office


Rédigé par Saliha Hadj-Djilani translated by Joséphine Foucher le Mercredi 6 Janvier 2016

The pretty beach resort town of Hyères is undoubtedly one of the most preserved cities of the French Riviera even though it attract thousands of tourists every year. Christine De La Forest, Director of the Tourism Office of Hyères, explains to us why this city stands out from the other beach resort towns of the French Riviera and tells us about the unique and new activities available to visitors.



Var (France): “Hyères is the garden of the French Riviera”
TourMaG.com - What is the specificity of Hyères compared to other cities of the French Riviera?

C.D.L.F: “Hyères is a city of the French Riviera where nature holds an important place. Evidently, the city has wonderful beaches such as the untamed Giens Peninsula or the superb island of Porquerolles that is also a lush city.

When visiting Hyères, one quickly notices the large amount of gardens that can be found. The city is particularly rich of four large green spaces listed as “remarkable gardens”: the Park Olbius Riquier, the Plantier de Costebelle, the Park Sainte-Claire and the Park Saint-Bernard. This is why I believe that Hyères is the garden of the French Riviera.”

TourMaG.com - What are the main events in Hyères?

C.D.L.F: “The international festival of the arts of fashion, that takes place every year in the Spring, gives great visibility to the city. Hyères becomes a gathering spot of new creators from France and abroad over the span of 3 days. In 2015, it was Karl Lagerfeld who presided the festival and the edition was very successful.

We also have lots of events linked to water sports of which some are world known. For example, the ISAF Sailing World Cup is an international sailing competition that holds 5 stops throughout the world and Hyères is the only European stop.”

TourMaG.com - What is the most unique festival of the city?

C.D.L.F: “The Reed Music Festival is probably one of Hyères’ most original festivals. It highlights the provincial culture of the city because contrary to other cities of the French Riviera, like Cannes or Nice, here you are truly in Provence and some locals still even speak the provincial dialect.

Thus, this festival focuses on the reed, a typical instrument from Provence built from the reed wood of the region. One of the highlights of the festival is a concert that takes place in the middle of the canes in the Sauvebonne Valley. This is quite a fun concert at the heart of nature.”

TourMaG.com - Should we expect a new festival for 2016?

C.D.L.F: “We are launching an international festival around underwater media and our marine heritage. This first edition will take place from June 10 through 12, 2016 at the forum of Hyères’ Casino. It will consist of an exhibit of photos, videos, and probably augmented reality.”

TourMaG.com - Have you launched new sea excursions?

C.D.L.F: “Boat companies are now offering outings to go dolphin watching when the sea is calm, starting April-May and during the summer season.

Furthermore, some boat companies organize sea excursions during the day that enable to discover the Hyères islands, the famous golden islands of Port-Cros and Porquerolles. These visits are filled with swimming but also exploration of the islands’ villages, which is rather new because until now swimming was the main attraction of these visits.

We also recently established an underwater archeological path. This is unique in France! This is a snorkeling excursion around the submerged archeological remains of the Roman city of Olbia, the antique site of Hyères located in the Almanarre. Departure starts from the beach in palms-mask-tuba. This family activity, accessible to children 8 years old and up, is chaperoned by a guide with a State accreditation in snorkeling tours.”

TourMaG.com - What are some of the new additions in terms of guided tours?

C.D.L.F: “In the city, we launched a new guided tour of the Medieval part of Hyères. In search of the Templars’ treasure. It is mostly aimed at children and families. The guide and children wear the costume from that era and go out to solve mysteries that take place in the Middle Ages. At the end of the visit, they discover a treasure in the Templars’ Tower, remnant of the Templar Command, then the whole group does a Medieval dance in a friendly atmosphere.

Furthermore, we hold many historical guided visits of the city: Hyères at the Time of the Palaces, that covers the tourism of aristocrats and crowned personalities of the 19th century, or even the History of Salt that retraces the saga of the salt harvest in Hyères practiced from the time of the Antiquity until 1995.

In 2016, we wish to create a new historical guided tour around Alexis Godillo for the bicentennial of his birth. Alexis Godillot is an important historical personality of the 19th century who is often unknown. It is from him that the slang word “godillots” comes from to define shoes.

Alexis Godillot, a French entrepreneur of the 19th century, in fact revolutionized the world of shoes because he reinvented the military boot of Napoleon’s armies by elaborating the difference between the left and right foot, which enabled him to make a fortune as the provider for the armies of Napoleon III.

He came to Hyères in his sixties and fell in love with the city. Then, he bought lots of property and had major avenues built. Meaning that he was also an important urbanist and the entire Beauregard neighborhood in Hyères was created for him.”

TourMaG.com - Will you open a new museum in Hyères?

C.D.L.F: “The Carmignac Foundation, an investment funds management company from Paris, will open a contemporary art foundation on the Porquerolles Island.

Construction work is ongoing but the opening will not take place before 2017. The museum will be in the middle of nature and will only be accessible by foot. The building should be quite surprising since it will be buried 2000m² underground since it was imperative to preserve the island from any construction.”

More information:

www.hyeres-tourisme.com

Getting to Hyères

Plane
International Airport of Toulon-Hyères
Regular flights between Paris Orly, Brest, and Hyères all year long. International flights: Charleroi-Bruxelles (JetAirFly), Rotterdam (Transavia), Londres (CityJet), Bournemouth (Flybe).
www.toulon-hyeres.aeroport.fr

Train
Daily trains Paris-Hyères
www.sncf.com

Road
Highway A570
National N98
Departmental D559

See article in French here

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