Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hyeres we come

I have to start today by sharing the funny little quote that the youngest member of the family came out with as I gently reminded her of the 101 jobs she has to do before school resumes tomorrow. 'Mum, you are sooo annoying, you are like my talking to do list.' I'm sure she meant it as an insult but it just made me laugh.

It's been a while since I blogged, have had lots on over the last month or so, but I'm back. We have been out and about a lot, the highlight being a trip to Hyeres and the stunning Ile des Porquerolles.

We have been talking about going there all summer but have to say that seeing it unadorned by hundreds of tourists in October was probably better than going in the height of summer. The beaches were deserted and the hotel we chose, the Hotel Bor, was everything you could possibly want...right on the beach, with a fabulous deck leading straight from our bedroom, an oyster bar, minimalist but comfortable rooms and to die for views.

I preferred the little surf hang out of La Capte rather than Hyeres town itself, which is a typical French town with the usual glut of tourist shops. La Capte, by contrast, was very casual, with great little bars and cafes hidden in the backstreets just behind the beach and had an almost Balinese vibe about it. La Bastide, right on the beach, offered fantastic lunches, an open fire inside for cooler evenings and great wines by the glass. We'd have gone back for dinner that night if it wasn't fully booked.

Instead we ended up at le Provencal, the only duff recommendation of the trip, which was like being in a scene from Fawlty Towers. Picture a faded seaside hotel, with a dining room that hasn't seen a paintbrush for about 40 years, and a dessert trolley and you are getting the picture. It was pitch dark so the view, which is perhaps the only reason people flock there, was non-existent. The food was OK but expensive and every time our waitress walked past she dropped something, smashed something or tripped over, which made the evening quite entertaining.

We hired bikes and set off for the Ile des Porquerolles, which looks a little like a Maldive that has been thrown into the Med. The heart of the village is full of cool cafes, bars and restaurants include L'Oustaou, a B&B with a great restaurant where we tucked into seafood and a cheeky glass of LP. We cycled past beautiful beaches, through pine forests and up a few hills and ended up on a beautiful stretch of coastline for a swim and sunbathe before catching the ferry back to Hyeres. The snorkelling here is among the best in France and there are no cars on the island, just bikes and golf buggies, which make it an absolute must for a return visit next year.

Maybe the best bit of all was leaving the rugrats at home for a weekend. They were quite happy watching The Only Way Is Essex and X Factor on a loop, not getting dressed and taking themselves out for a pizza for lunch.