Here are few things I gathered for you during our stay in Hyeres this winter!
The shopping list in Hyeres
I never encourage people to buy what they don’t need, but I do love to know about workshops, small brands, craftsmen and women who care for the best quality about what they do and/or sell. If you need something, better buy it in this kind of shop, than in an Ikea store, or any other superstore. This will also be a perfect souvenir of your trip that you will use every day, instead of filling your shelves with the dusty objects made in China.
This is a list of interesting small shops you will find downtown.
- For sweet addicts, in this place, you will find all kind of southern specialties: “Peches gourmands Hyeres.”
- South of France is the place to find the best traditional soap we have in France “Savon de Marseilles.” Apparently, some foreigners think this is only to be used for household matters, but it is not. People have been using it for centuries; it is simple, cheap, very efficient and excellent for the skin. But for those who prefer a more sophisticated soap, let’s say more fashion, French have adapted. They can master this art. You will find a good example at “Les savons d’exceptions.”
- Maison Godillot is a shop you can find online. But we had the pleasure to discover their products in a shop open only for Christmas time. They have high quality of a little bit of everything for everyday living. From stationary, through household essentials, to health and books. But everything is the highest quality and made this greatest care.
- Chocolates are to be found at Yves Thuries
- Handbags and other leather goods: D’Hyeres et D’Aujourd’hui leather seller for Paul Marius
- Food again but not sugary: La belle Iloise is not originated from South Of France, but high quality canned food very representative of sea products
The Tropezienne cake
Not the first bakery created but apparently the favourite one now if we consider the public reviews. As for us we only tried this one but are very happy with everything coming out their ovens.
A movie story
The very famous Tropezienne was first created by a St Tropez baker originated from Poland: Alexander Micka. In 1955 he was selected to prepare lunches for a Roger Vadim film production “And God Created Woman.” Brigitte Bardot noticed the simple dessert he presented to the cast and suggested he should find a name for it. He opted for “The Tropezienne.”
A recipe maybe?
This dessert consists of a kind of light brioche with a large middle layer of very light fluffy cream. Today the recipe still is a family registered secret, but many have tried to retrieve it. We keep in mind to try to make some. Maybe this will be for another post!
A very friendly place at first. We wrote an email asking about how to visit their workshop; they were very responsive and helpful. We came few days before Christmas, meaning low season. The shop and workshop are running but slowly. You have to ring the door-bell for the owner comes to let you in. The place is a family business. During the winter time, only one craftsman is working on the rope potter wheel, and one the classic potter wheel.
A demonstration offers a deeper meaning to the pieces sold
But this is fairly enough for us. We were very lucky to arrive just in time to watch a huge jar modelled on the rope-potter wheel. This is an impressive process where a large heavy object is made with most delicacy. After being modelled, the jar is drying up to one month in a warm room before being decorated and cooked. Then we went to see the classic potter wheel adding the final touch to a series of bowls. As it is traditional in South of France, big jars are sold almost as easily as smaller objects. Very strong potteries, they are in every garden.
Handmade has a soul
Taking time to watch the whole process of the modelling of a jar allowed us to understand the dedication and love these craftsmen put into their work. These objects are made by people that went to art schools and learned the complete process of modelling with any material. They surely would prefer to give a free go as artists and not have to work making jars and cups. At the same time, they instil in these objects we use every day a little bit of their knowledge and their love for modelling. They offer us that when working on such simple objects.
Cafes et Restaurants Hyeres
Bagus Kafe you will enjoy organic coffee time under a greenhouse. Everything here is healthy and delicious. The place is quiet, full of light. You are outside but not outside!
Le Café Italien this place is not for healthy light food. They have Nutella beverages! They also make some amazing pasta. Be careful; the place can be full at lunchtime. Arrive earlier than other people to ensure a seat inside. Better during the winter time, even in Hyeres!
La Taverne Royale It’s a very good restaurant. Food is very great; you will have an idea of one small part of traditional medieval inspired French food. The cook is very careful about how the meal is organized for you to have the best experience. Better to book at least a little in advance to be sure to have availabilities.
A walk on the peninsula
Hyeres is an entrance to the Giens Peninsula. This place is very famous for many reasons, but mainly the beauty of the land, the richness of the soil allow nature to be itself in a very little protected spot of the French Southern Coast. It is heaven for birds amongst many other animals living freely. There are houses along the road, but there are possibilities for most beautiful walks.
One very easy to access, so a little bit too popular maybe during the week-ends afternoons, is the Salt Road (La Route du Sel). This road is closed to cars during the winter. It goes along the beach. And offers an alternative to the ones who are tired of walking in the sand, or simply can’t. Many opening through the dunes allow the road walkers to access the beach again or at least see its beautiful landscapes. You will find car parks on both sides of the walk.
A day walk around Porquerolles island.
A place to rest, have good family time. This island is a step back in time. A step back to a time where roads when not increasingly noisy, a time when people used their bikes and feet to go somewhere. A time when cars were not so important because people could not have one not to mention two! A walk on this island is quiet and peaceful. You can have lunch on the beach and sew one or two small boats arriving silently. People come and go. They say hello, and have a good day. They smile because they relax. You go to the island by ferryboat at the “Tour Fondue” Pier. There are car parks there to let your car for the day.
Winter time in Porquerolles
I only know Porquerolles in the winter time, and I don’t miss the summertime for I enjoy it so much like so. Tourists are coming to the island, but they don’t want to sunbathe for hours stuck on an overcrowded beach. They come to enjoy the sea, the sound of the wave, the clear waters. You will eat your lunch watching children drawing in the sand, or you will maybe draw in the sand yourself. If you prefer more comfortable seats, there are several restaurants opened year long. Far away on the other side, you will watch the houses of the mainland where people are living a fast life. They worry, they are late, and they have too much to do in their busy day. They don’t enjoy life, but you do. You take time to watch the sea, the sky, the sand. It is also an opportunity to relax, laugh and play. You simply enjoy your life!
Wander on the roads
If you want to take a longer walk, you’ll wander on small roads to go to the mill or the lighthouse. You will go through the olive trees; there you will enjoy the sun playing with the branches and making the shadows dance. You will enjoy and rediscover the colourful flowers even in the middle of the winter. Grass and clovers are green. Berries are red or black. Bees are working hard in the Eucalyptus trees. You will relax because you will feel out of time, even the mother nature wants it to be. But don’t relax too much, it would be a shame to miss the last ferry to the mainland!
A walk in medieval Hyeres to the Castle
We took our walking shoes, or at least that’s what we should have done. I had hills, not too high, but more than enough for me. The visit to the castle was more like a spare of the moment. The weather was beautiful; we had a great lunch at “La Taverne Royale” a medieval restaurant. The idea of a good walk to help the digestion a little bit was more than welcome, and we wanted to keep the medieval mood of the afternoon.
Hyeres old town
We started by a tour in the old town and a visit of “Collegial St Paul,” the first stop with a great view of the city and the harbour. Then we thought we could keep going to Villa Noailles and its gardens and eventually the remains of the Castle.
The last part was the trickiest. We obviously didn’t take the easiest path. Apparently, their is no real easy path to go there. I don’t mean the trail is very difficult, but you better prepare for a country walk, even if still in town. Buggies and wheel-chairs must resign themselves to use the road. In the end, we were glad we tried because the view was magnificent.
What a view
The sun was still high, and the light was reflecting on the water in a most beautiful way. The way down was quite difficult for me, but it was a matter of minutes so no big trouble. Note for later, avoid hills in places with hills!
Hyeres beaches are jewels that will help improve your photo skill.
Hyeres is on a peninsula going north to south. Therefore, there are beaches facing east west and south. You can enjoy beautiful sunrise and sunset if you choose your place wisely. You can enjoy the sun all day long and practice your skill with many different lighting. On sunny days you’ll have shadows and harsh light, on grey days (less of them!) you’ll have some soft light. But you’ll be able to be exactly facing east or west and enjoy on the same day a perfect sunrise and a perfect sunset. Both lights are very different.
Early sunset and late sunrise light and colours
When the light is stronger at sunset and sunrise time, some strong orange tones are present. You will have very dark silhouettes and a strong light going from dark red to light orange, then yellow to broad white daylight. You can adjust your white balance adequately, but taking photos at this hour certainly is not about having the perfect white. At this hour you will use this special lighting to change the colours and textures of usual landscapes and objects. The orange light is acting as a natural filter that will stop the orange colours to be caught by your eye and the camera. Therefore, there will be a physical change in the resulting image you record.
Late sunset and early sunrise colours
When the light is lower, there is more light pink then purple tones. At last, you will go to a navy blue and black. Ones again this special light will change the way everything appears. Acting as a filter. It’s important to choose your subject according to the tone of the sky. It’s adequate to shoot a fast-moving subject under orange tones. Softer tones will suits still settings, giving a more romantic tone to the final image.
Working your colours afterward a personal choice
For professional use
Of course, you can work everything on your computer and use digital filters to change the mood of your image. I am working to create my brand style by using some personal filters I created. This is useful to me because I want to show photos that are recognized by anybody who knows me as mine. But for people who don’t want to bother themselves with a huge amount of extra work, it can be tricky. Achieving proper filters require a lot of work and a very high image quality in the first place so that your result will remain perfect.
For personal use
I see two problems here. The first and important one for me is very personal. I think most people take a photo to carry some emotions when recording memories. You can’t cheat on the mood you were in when you took it. Mainly you want to record a memory not change it to make a stunning, impressive picture. In that case, you can slightly arrange your photos to perfect them. Sometimes you want to increase a feeling, but a feeling you experienced when you took the photo. Sometimes you simply want to obtain an image that will be closer to the perception you had when you pressed the shutter. The camera can be good, but in no way, it’s comparable to your eyes and your brain. In some extreme condition, you will have major difficulties to record what you see. It may even be impossible. This is especially true for sunset and sunrise.
Be extra careful with the quality of your image
The second problem I see is that major changes on your image using a software remains a big alteration. It hugely decreases the quality and adds some grain. To perform this adequately you must have a camera that creates high-quality images, this is not the case with point and shoot or hybrids, and even some beginners range digital reflex. Anyway, use these changes very carefully and always remember to keep your original image untouched, just in case you are not happy with the result!
Photo Album about Hyeres
Continue your dive into the French Riviera and access the VIP Library to read our photo album about the city of Hyeres:
If you want more ideas about what to do in South of France: