Port-Cros, a haven for winter

By Pierre Sorgue

Posted today at 6:00 p.m.

A flight of greylag geese passes over the harbor, a gray and white squadron in the cloudless sky. Johann Cerisier, ranger monitor of the Port-Cros national park, follows him with his eyes. Migratory birds are a sign that autumn is well advanced, the return of a pair of peregrine falcons seen at the point of the Galerius announces winter. In three days, for All Saints’ Day, the few businesses, hotels and restaurants will have drawn the curtain, then it will be “Operation Dead Island” until Easter. But, for now, the heat of the Indian summer prolongs the tourist season on the “Natural pearl” of the French Riviera. If the crowds are much less than in August, sailboats still moor to the buoys, the groupers of the Gabinière islet still see schools of divers passing by, boats from Hyères or Lavandou unload hikers. dressed for marked trails.

Thirty kilometers of tracks run through the 700 hectares of greenery of this Mediterranean island, including here the “plant trail”.

“Sentier des Plantes”, “Circuit des Crêtes”, “Route des forts”, at each fork a discreet yellow sign indicates the direction and duration of the walk. There is no risk of getting lost along the 30 kilometers of tracks that run through the 700 hectares of greenery of this Mediterranean island. But one landscape follows another: tropical touch brought by palm trees and agaves to the handful of ocher and pink houses around the bay of the port, the Caribbean sea when it bathes one of the three small beaches, Mediterranean scene when a sail white glides over the royal blue behind the Aleppo pines, more austere when the schist and mica cliffs covered with scrub seem crumpled by the wind and the spray … The confetti, 4.5 kilometers long and 3.5 kilometers wide kilometers, is a pleasant journey.

“Natural Eden”

But you have to walk: “No car or shuttle, no bicycle, Port-Cros, you have to earn it”, warns Johann regretting that the majority of the 350,000 annual visitors – almost all in July and August – hardly go beyond the beach of the South, thirty minutes from the port, or crowd on that of La Palud , hardly further away: “But, for some families, taking the boat for an hour and disembarking on an island is an adventure, the highlight of the holidays”, excuse the young man.

Often, this wise reserve of beauty evokes what Pedro Soto de Rojas, an Andalusian poet of the XVIIe century, wrote the rich houses of Granada, oases of greenery behind their high walls: “Paradise closed to many; gardens open to a few. “ Port-Cros is a bit like that: the one we say “The wildest” des Iles d’Or was for centuries worked by man, monks, peasants, fishermen. Since 1963, it has been monitored, cleared, regulated, marked out, protected by the national park, which is also the first marine park in Europe.

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