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39km (24 miles) SE of Toulon; 119km (74 miles) SW of Cannes

Bobbing off the French Riviera in the Mediterranean Sea, a small group of islands encloses the eastern boundary of Provence. During the Renaissance, they were coined the Îles d’Or (Golden Islands), named for the glow the rocks give off in sunlight. As might be expected, their location only 30 min. from the French coast means the islands are often packed with tourists in summer—but its breathtaking beaches still have space for everyone.

If you have time for only one island, choose the beautiful, lively Île de Porquerolles. The Île de Port-Cros is quieter—and perhaps better for an overnight stay to take advantage of the great hiking, exploring, and snorkeling that would be too rushed for a 6-hr. day trip. As for the Île du Levant, 80 percent belongs to the French army and is used for missile testing; the remainder is a nudist colony.