Hyeres a charming destination on Cote D’Azur
We went few times to that place now. It is soaked with nice warm weather in both summer and winter time. So many beautiful traditions are to be seen less than 30min drive from the pier. There is seaside that is very important to me but to be more realistic; it is very convenient when coming from London. Toulon Airport is direct from London and only 10min drive from the city centre.
A wabi-sabi place
Wabi-sabi is a Japanese word to express the beauty of old and used things. A slightly broken cup, or a not so transparent glass because of having been washed too many times. Twisted leather and smelly old books are beautiful things. They have more soul than a brand new book just coming out of a fancy library. Wabi-sabi is about the beauty of ageing things. Hyeres certainly is one of those wabi-sabi places. It’s old and rusty and slightly broken. But it is beautiful. It has a delicate architecture, narrow streets, and nice windows took care of the inhabitants. Small gardens with flowers and trees that are blossoming all year round. Is not perfectly restored as are some of the biggest cities, but people living in Hyeres surely take good care of their place. It is living nicely.
Local traditional crafts
Many of the local shops downtown offer a very traditional representative view of the local craft and art. I enjoy discovering all of them. I enjoy encountering all these traditional materials and objects that people use in South of France for ages. It is like having most of the south here in one place: in Hyeres (pronounce iyeahR with an “i” like in “Important” and a hard French “r”). This town is very small, but there is everything needed for a quiet and peaceful vacation. You won’t have to go far to find many things to do and enjoy. Hyeres old town is a place worth wandering in to appreciate the slow living pace of the south.
For more information on that beautiful town: http://www.hyeres.fr/
The Santons Tradition
There are some times when it’s good to stay a little bit inside. Then discover about the Santons is a great way to have a little indoor time while understanding a most important tradition.
On a grey lightly rainy day on the Southern French Coast
Yes, it happens. There are rainy days in South Of France, though it is not as rainy as London or other northern cities can be. It can be cold, but not as cold as we are used to in Paris, London or better in Canada! So no big winter weather, but some bad weather days all the same. On those days you have the choice to hit the trails and get wet. No pain no gain. You can enjoy walking whatever the weather is, and it’s far easier to endure that bad weather on the Southern Coast than many other places. But you can be in a “well I don’t want to fight the elements today, I’m on vacation…” In that case, you can drive to “Chateau de l’Aumerade” ( Aumerade Castle) near Hyeres. This charming little vineyard has, apart from great wines and very good local products, a most beautiful “Santons” collection.
Santons are a very Southern tradition
Santons are little clay statues most of the time. They represent the nativity. But in South of France, there are many more people represented by these Santons. This mainly comes from a story told at Christmas time about a Provence origin of the nativity. It may seem offensive to some because the nativity obviously is not from Provence, but it is no more than a nice tradition, telling about life in South of France, in Occitan region.
A great collection
This castle has a most beautiful collection of those little Santons. The oldest ones were made in the 18e century and were the starting point of the collection. Years after years the owners gathered new pieces from many different countries and many different materials.
You will have a wide range of what can be made all around the world. The interesting thing is to see the variation of local art on one unique subject. So many interpretations of one historical scene show us that even amongst a population of people having the same belief each one of them remains different. We can’t think and act the same because we have obviously not the same personality and culture. This doesn’t make one better than the other because all those nativities are beautiful in their way.
My last visit will be about churches
Not because I want to give any religious idea or opinion here, but because they are nice places to have interesting views of the city and discover a little bit more about Hyeres and its people.
Collegial St Paul
Enjoy the ride and walk the cobblestone streets to gain a beautiful view of the city and the charming old southern French houses. This is more than visiting a church; this is about taking time to wander the old streets.
Take time to notice all those little details that made the ancient houses. Don’t wear hills for that you’d spend more time to worry about the cobblestones than looking around. When you join the Collegial, look the arch ceiling with its dark blue staring sky painting then turn around and watch the city lying at your feet.
St Louis church
When going back down at the bottom of the city centre, don’t miss the St Louis Church. This place is a jewel hidden at the edge of the old town. It simply is beautiful. Painted glass is delightful, and you can admire two most impressive paintings. This will give you a good reason to extend your walk in the city. Take that time to notice everything you don’t see anywhere else. Imagine why things were created that way centuries ago. It’s not a time for shopping, keep it for later I will give you plenty of ideas about that soon. It is time to dive into people’s life and history.
Notre dame de consolation
This one will require a little bit more time. You will need a good 1h to 1h15 depending on your pace to join that one from St Louis Church… Or your could take your car. Much more effective but far less healthy! This Church has a long history, and the actual version of it is very modern. But it tells about architecture and history in its way. Plus you will enjoy another magnificent view of the peninsula. You can admire the city from an outer point of view.
If you want to read more about French Riviera:
Photo Album about Hyeres
Continue your dive into the French Riviera and get our photo album containing beautiful pictures taken in the city of Hyeres: