As a nature-lover who's grown roots in the Var, visiting friends and relatives often ask me...
"Yes, nature is so... well nice and natural, but tell me - what is the best beach in the area?"
So here goes. Every once in a while, I'll scribble my personal views on a wonderful beach in the Var side of the French Cote d'Azur and post them on the Best Beaches category of AzurAlive.com. There are plenty, and they're not always the better known ones. And I'll speak my mind on the most heinous ones too. There are plenty of those as well.
Best Beaches: Plage d'Argent
Best Beaches: Plage d'Argent
It's a crowded beach in the summer, only a half-hour walk west from the one and only village in the island of Porquerolles, the largest of the four Golden Islands by Hyères.
But the sand on this beach is white like a Sea Daffodil and soft like sifted flour. The ends of its cove are made of schist rocks, layered and sharp edged, like the rocks of the Maures mountain to which the islands of Hyères belong, geologically. To the back, a forest of pine trees. At the entrance to the beach, a set of wooden bicycle racks for parking the
nuisances cycles, the only authorized vehicles on the island. Note, in the summer, bikes outnumber cicadas.
You decide to lay your beach towel on the sifted flour.
Where the water meets the shore, your feel your feet dig into piles of brown strips of Posidonia, thin strips like tape. They smell of salt-crusted seashells. Kids kick them up in the air and giggle. Little strips stick to their feet. Seagulls join in with strings of strident mocking squeals. This is a family beach.
Beyond the brown carpet, wavelets gurgle and barely ripple the water. You walk into the sea, pulled in by its color - turquoise, like a touched-up postcard of an exotic sea. Walking out to sea down the gentle slope, it takes a while to immerse yourself with only neck and head above the water. You face the beach and its giant swimming pool. You think: "I'm inside a limpid mirage."
Could it be early afternoon? You feel like a bite to eat.
The snack bar at La Plage d'Argent's restaurant, the only one on this privately owned but open to the public beach, serves
average half-stale snack food as per our latest visit there in 2007. You might have better luck with its full-fledged restaurant on the wooden deck facing the sea. Their local Rosé wine, a Domaine de l'Ile Cote de Provence, chilled and sipped on such a warm day, has you forgiving them. It's grapes are grown and pressed in the wind-kissed plain down the footpath from the beach, towards the Pointe du Grand Langoustier. The Rosé is a delightful mix of grenache, cinsault, tibouren and mourvèdre.
What more could you ask of a beach?
Your return to rest on the sifted flour. One of these days, you will lift off from Plage d'Argent and fly like a bird around the island.
- Plage d'Argent restaurant opens from April to end of September. See http://www.plagedargent.com
- Domaine de l'Ile, Cote de Provence Rosé, White and Red wine of Porquerolles. See http://www.domainedelile.com
- For reservation to Porquerolles, check out La Maison du Tourisme in Hyères. They sell ferry boat tickets too.
And if you're interested in learning more about the island and hiking around it, take a look at the Golden Islands category on this web site.