advertisement

852km (529 miles) S of Paris; 100km (62 miles) SE of Aix-en-Provence; 122km (76 miles) SW of Cannes; 18km (11 miles) E of Toulon

Temperate and palm-filled Hyères is lost in time. The oldest resort along the Côte d'Azur was once frequented by the likes of Queen Victoria, Napoleon, Leo Tolstoy, and Robert Louis Stevenson. It has changed so little from its pre-WWII heyday that many French film directors, including Jean-Luc Godard (Pierrot le Fou) and François Truffaut, who shot his last film here (Vivement Dimanche, released as Confidentially Yours in the U.S.), have used it as locations for period pieces. Today it lives off its past glory and its memories, but still provides the perfect base for trips to the Îles d'Or and for overnight stops next to Toulon-Hyères airport.

The cobbled streets of the Vieille Ville (Old City), which lies 5km (3 miles) inland from the sea on a hill, are worth a visit with their plethora of health food shops and 19th-century villas. Stop off at the busy morning market in place Massillon before hiking uphill to the Mediterranean gardens of Parc Saint-Bernard, where you'll find staggering views over the Var coast and the equally staggering Cubist Villa Noailles.

The full name of the town is Hyères-les-Palmier, as it is known for its production of palm trees. Believe it or not, many of these trees are exported to the Middle East.