five hikes in the islands


This week, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, from the Vendée to Corsica, on the way to the pearls of the seas located near the metropolitan coasts.

On the island of Saint Lucia, with the birds

An ideal observatory, in the middle of a nature reserve.

AUDE We are not under the coconut palms, but in the Aude: in the middle of the ponds that separate Port-la-Nouvelle from Gruissan, the island of Sainte-Lucie is a haven of peace for migratory birds, classified as a regional nature reserve. For hikers who know how to be discreet, it is an unexpected pearl whose inhabitants are called the black-winged stilt, the red-billed oystercatcher or the avocet. We should also speak of a peninsula since sansouïres – land sometimes flooded, sometimes uncovered – serve as passages. The island is part of a landscape that also includes salt marshes and a lido, this strip of sand where the beach is located, between the sea and the ponds. Count a little over two hours of walking for this 7 km loop, from the Port-la-Nouvelle car park located along the Robine canal. Binoculars recommended!

On the island of Batz, an exotic rendezvous in the garden

A truly extraordinary garden.

FINISTERE Batz is exactly on the scale of a day’s walk. The shuttle that leads from Roscoff to the island crosses in a quarter of an hour. The charm of the place appears as soon as you climb up to the church, from where you take the coastal path. At Porz ar Roc’h, you have to push on to the very beautiful lighthouse 68 meters high, of which you can climb the one hundred and ninety-eight steps. But Batz’s nugget is its exotic garden. Created in 1897 by Georges Delaselle, it takes advantage of the almost tropical climate of the island, where it never freezes. Suddenly, the palm trees, the flowers and all the essences from Australia or South Africa flourish like at home in this soft and humid air. If the collection of palm trees is the glory of the Georges-Delaselle garden, you can admire more than one thousand five hundred plant species. We return to the landing stage by the communal road. The 9 km walk takes three hours, without markings.

In Porquerolles, a bath of contemporary art

And suddenly, the Carmignac Foundation.

VAR The largest of the three islands of Hyères, the island of Porquerolles is part of the Port-Cros National Park. Protected, the landscape is typically Mediterranean: pines, vines, fruit trees and garrigue with multiple scents. We discover the island by the west coast and the Argent beach. Then, after Cap Rousset and Mas du Langoustier, the trail climbs to Mont de Tiélo and then to Montagne de Robert. Before strolling through the village or returning to the mainland, you can now take a breather and treat yourself to a bath in art à la Carmignac Foundation. This private collection – hundreds of works by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat or Gerhard Richter – can be discovered at the same time as exhibitions of contemporary art. It takes a whole day for this 12 km loop if you add the cultural detour to Carmignac.

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