Coming home last week from a short break away from the Côte d'Azur, I found The Riviera Times newspaper waiting for me at the door step.
As usual, it was short on gossip and generous on tips for urban and outdoors activities for the French Côte d'Azur, Monaco and Liguria.
And as usual, the paper ran my regular monthly hiking column. Since I can't seem to get my paws off our network of Grande Randonnées (GR), Petite Randonnées (PR), Promenades de Pays and various local trails, writing about hidden Côte d'Azur treks seems natural enough.
For the August edition of the Riviera Times' hiking column, I picked a wild coastal area that isn't all that often visited. It's the Giens Peninsula and it's a dream to those of us who long for a slice of raw nature.
It's off the coast of Hyères on the Western side of the French Côte d'Azur. It's wind-swept, rugged, unkind to flip-flops and to high heels.
It runs over moody terrain that climbs until your buttocks burn then strolls by soft sea-side views. And it faces the Golden Islands of Hyères.
Some 18,000 years ago, when the Mediterranean Sea was 125 meters below its current level, you could have walked from the Giens Peninsula to the Golden Islands. Today, you can hike around the western tip of the Giens peninsula and discover cliffs that plunge precipitously into the sea, a trickle of small spiny islands and rocks that appear hand-painted as they display their geologic torments through layers and folds.
To the walker who isn't afraid to get those legs moving, this hike is one of the most rewarding short hikes this side of the French Riviera.
You begin the hike just west of the port de la Madrague and make your way along the coastal path to the Darboussières beach for a 6.5 km (4 miles) round-trip hike. You can sort of see the map from the article above. If not, drop us a line or check out our hiking guide to the western French Riviera on Amazon.
And if you decide to stay on the Giens Peninsula, consider the Hotel Lido Beach. We're not affiliated with them in any way, just fans. It has a private beach with a view over the Golden Islands or Iles d'Or (islands of Porquerolles, Port-Cros, Le Levant -- see our articles on these islands under the "By Hyères" category). Best of all, it's reasonably priced given the location.