Hyeres, Provence: tourism & sightseeing
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The town first become popular and wealthy around the end of the 19th century because of its palm tree industry and many of the houses you see in the town date from this era. You will see very many palm trees that bear witness to this heritage (and are an important ongoing industry in Hyeres).
A sizable town, Hyeres has an interesting centre, with a more ancient section with medieval houses and narrow streets to lose yourself in for a couple of hours and a newer part with more modern, wider boulevards and lots of shopping opportunities as well as several imposing 19th century villas built when the town became established as a seaside resort.
France This Way comment: Hyères is quite extensive, and has interesting gardens to explore and a castle above the town, so allow plenty of time to explore as well as to enjoy one of the many cafes in the heart of the town.
Before you start exploring, visit the Tourist Office for Hyères: this is to the east of the town centre, on the southern side of Place Clémenceau. The tourist office can give you a map with two separate walks highlighted, one in the Old Town and one in 19th century Hyères, and both starting in front of the tourist office. We would start a visit in the old town and to the castle because that is the most exhausting part to explore!
You can enter this medieval section through the Porte de la Rade, one of the original entrances through the town defences and now with a clock above the entrance. This leads you into a charming shopping street, lively and colourful, that continues to Place Massillon, the heart of the old town.
Surrounded by colourful houses and filled with cafes, this square is dominated by the Saint-Blaise Chapel (the Templars Tower) built built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century and now used for art exhibitions (free to enter).
Further up the hill you can visit the Collegial Church of Saint Paul, a 12th century church with a square tower, a nave that was rebuilt in the 14th century and a renaissance style facade added in the 18th century. There is a story that the treasure of the Templars is hidden in this church so have a good look around for clues! The best view of the church is from the castle.
Continue passed the renaissance building in Passage Jules Romain to the Princes Gate, a gothic style stone archway (this looks ancient but was actually built in the early 20th century). From here you pass the entrance to the Parc Saint-Claire, one of the two 'remarkable gardens' in this upper part of Hyères, then continue along the long path that leads up to the castle.
On the hill above the town you can visit the ruins of the 11th century Castle of Hyeres. The castle was expanded and reinforced in the 13th century, and destroyed at the end of the 16th century, and there are still quite substantial ruins still to be seen as well as good views across Hyères.
Returning towards the town from the castle, about halfway you can turn right along the Rue Saint-Bernard to reach one of the most unusual buildings in Hyeres, the Villa Noailles. The building is in the contemporary modernist style and was built in the 1920s by the architect called Robert Mallet-Stevens: it is one of the first modernist houses to be built in France.
In front of the house is a courtyard with views across the town, and you can go inside the house (free to enter) to appreciate the architecture and also to see various exhibits from the time the house was built and other artistic contributions. Below Villa Noailles the Park Saint-Bernard is quite a large garden with a wide variety of plants and is also classified among the 'remarkable gardens of France'.
Parks and gardens in Hyères
Hyeres is a very 'green' town with an impressive number of trees, many of them palms, and garden areas to explore. The unique climate and careful attention of the town has ensured there are several gardens of interest including the Parc Olbius Riquier with its palm tree collections, now listed as a 'remarkable garden of France' and a few kilometres to the south-east of the town centre. Gardeners and children alike will enjoy a visit because there is also an animal park in these gardens.
In the old town, the gardens at Park Saint-Bernard are very nicely laid out and a great way to escape from the city noise for a while, and from here you can continue on to the Sainte-Claire botanical gardens. Both of the gardens are nice rather than exceptional, but together they provide an interesting visit for garden enthusiasts.
To the east of the tourist office in Hyeres you can visit the gardens of Jardin Denis and Jardin d'Orient.
Hyères in the 19th century
I suggest you take a pause before embarking on part two of your grand tour of Hyères although this part of the town is less hilly and easier to explore! Starting from the tourist office you can first take a look at the grand buildings around the Place Clémenceau, with the typical 19th century facades.
From here the route follows the main road towards the east, the Avenue General de Gaulle and Avenue des Iles d'Or. The first part of the route is a pedestrianised shopping street. There are various buildings of interest here and in the surrounding streets such as the Moorish Villa, the Villa Saint-Hubert and the Godillot Stables, the majority built in the 1880s.
Although the town itself is not on the coast there are many fine beaches along the coast near Hyeres, mostly long beaches of sand but also some smaller isolated creeks. The main beach is the Plage de l'Almanarre to the south of the town on the Presqu'ile de Giens.
Hyeres can be subject to strong winds from offshore and also the strong mistral winds from the north, and which beach you choose largely depends which wind you are trying to shelter from - the beaches are around the peninsula south of the town so you can choose whether you want to face east or west!
Just outside the town you can explore the extensive Roman ruins at Olbia, et no visit to Hyeres would be complete without a visit to the Iles d'Hyeres, a lovely group of islands off the coast to the south of the town.
Map of Hyeres and places to visit
Visit near Hyeres with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Var
Hyeres is classified as a village in bloom (ville fleurie) 4*
Address: Hyères, Toulon, Var, Provence, 83400, France || GPS: latitude 43.12, longitude 6.13167
Plan your visit to Hyeres, Provence
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Jardin du castel Sainte Claire: remarkable garden
- Parc Olbius Riquier: remarkable garden
- Parc Saint Bernard: remarkable garden
- Le Plantier de Costebelle: remarkable garden (3km)
- Jardin d’oiseaux tropicaux: remarkable garden (9km)
- Domaine d'Orvès: remarkable garden (12km)
- Jardin de Baudouvin: remarkable garden (12km)
- Mont Faron: site of natural beauty (15km)
- Zoo du Mont Faron: zoo or wildlife park (16km)
- Bormes-les-Mimosas: ville fleurie 4* (17km)
Market days in Hyeres, France
Regular market(s) are held in Hyeres each Wednesday & Tuesday & Sunday & Saturday & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Hyeres (Francais)