Île de Porquerolles, France

Photo: Le Mas Du Langoustier
Photo: Le Mas Du Langoustier

What was your favorite trip over the summer? All of your long-weekend getaways were fun, but it was your big vacation, to the south of France, about which you still can’t stop talking. A glimpse of the gorgeous photographs, a warmer-than-usual autumn afternoon, or a glass of rosé wine all have the amazing ability to bring you back in time. But none of that is surprising. Your favorite spot along the Côte d’Azur was completely unexpected, though.

Île de Porquerolles was supposed to be a day trip. From Hyères, you boarded a passenger ferry for a quick, 10-minute ride across the azure water. You planned to ride a bike between white-sand beaches and vineyards, explore historic forts, and hike through a national park. Then, before reboarding the ferry at the end of the day, you’d eat ice cream while watching old men play pétanque near the port. But you couldn’t bring yourself to get on the boat.

The island is one of the Îles d’Hyères that lie southeast of Hyères, about halfway between Marseilles and Saint-Tropez. Though less than five square miles, Île de Porquerolles is the largest of the four islands. A small community was first established on the island in 1820. A wealthy Belgian entrepreneur purchased the hilly island in 1912 and planted lots of vineyards on it. In 1971, the French government bought 80 percent of the land to preserve it from further development. With few cars and about 275 days of sunshine each year, it’s still the paradise it was 25 years ago.

Photo: Le Mas du Langoustier
Photo: Le Mas du Langoustier

You quickly realized that a chic, modern hotel just wouldn’t suit the island. You needed to find a classic hotel that fit right into its surroundings. Le Mas du Langoustier, which feels like a distant relative’s country house, was perfect. The hotel sat near the island’s western tip; Fort du Langoustier and Plage d’Argent were just a short walk away. Its long driveway was lined with eucalyptus trees. Pine trees filled in much of the remaining 40 acres. Portrait artwork and period furniture filled the lobby and the hallways. While the spacious rooms, which were recently renovated, opened to quiet terraces and warm sunshine.

It was easy to relax at Le Mas du Langoustier. Breakfast was served outside on another terrace. Water-colored sun loungers and umbrellas lined the long pool. A little path led to a small, wild beach. Tennis courts were hidden among the pines. Bellinis and rossinis (made with strawberries instead of peaches) were served at the bar. Plus beautiful dishes were presented at the Michelin-starred restaurant. There was a shuttle to bring you to and from the village and the harbor throughout the day. You didn’t use it.

No wonder you keep daydreaming about your summer adventure. Hopefully your memories—and the last of the season’s rosé—will hold you over until next year.

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