Giens, France our Go To Place

Giens France our Go To Place

With the sun on our faces and wind in our hair, we know we can return here whenever a feeling of rest is in order. This paradise peninsula is Giens, in France and it’s our go to place for relaxation. It’s where an incredible coastline, simplistic surroundings and perfect campsite await, all within the most beautiful setting imaginable.

This little piece of Heaven, situated on a relatively unknown stretch of coast, makes a perfect retreat for times when doing nothing is the number one priority.

Giens itself is located about 7 miles from the Medieval old town of Hyères, situated between Toulon and Le Lavandou. Here, the Mediterranean Sea surrounds the Giens headland, in the heart of Southern France. In fact, this is the most Southern tip of Provence, therefore, as you’d expect, it’s simply beautiful.

Giens, France our Go To Place

The drive across the flat, salt-marsh type spit from Hyères to Giens brings little in the way of clues as to what lies ahead. Passing kitesurfing, Provencal markets, Flamingo’s and long sandy beaches, this is the busier, more popular area. Although, I don’t want to mislead you, because this is still a really low-key place.

Here, there’s low-lying holiday accommodation, where narrow access roads lead to long stretches of beach. For example, there’s the endless sands of Place La Capte, before it merges further on with the Plage de la Bergerie.

At the village of La Capte are small shops selling a selection of perfectly displayed food, mostly local produce which is tempting to say the least. Simply put – it’s the kind of shopping experience where you want to buy the lot!

Giens, France our Go To Place

By the time you reach the end of the flat stretch of road, connecting Hyères with Giens, you enter a blissful, tree canopy headland. Now, the roads become fairly narrow and short, as they lead to several little hamlets around the peninsula.

Beyond, you’ll find dramatic coastal paths with intimate little coves, each bringing something different, yet all, totally inviting.

From the idyllic small harbour at Port de Niel, where colourful traditional fishing boats line the harbour wall, to woodland trails leading to the smallest inlets.

It’s no wonder this favourite “go to place” is one that keeps drawing us back. Because, after 30 years of van travels, we know we’ve found a special piece of paradise here.

Giens, France our Go To Place

Nestled in a sleepy corner of the peninsula is the hamlet of La Madrague. It’s here, on this dead end road, where our favourite little campsite can be found.

Camping Olbia is one of those campsites where nothing much goes on, but it has effortless charm in bucket loads. Located within a few minutes walk of the nearest beach, yet it’s on the doorstep to so many more.

Not only are you transported into a green oasis of shady pines, palms and solitude, but the pitches are fairly spacious and the atmosphere oozes chill time.

Within the campsite, there’s a newly renovated amenity block, which provides spacious, modern showers and toilets, a laundry room, and a large washing up area. Not to forget an on-site shop selling fresh bread and pastries every morning, along with a small bar and restaurant.

It’s just so nice to have lazy day time here, relaxing under the shade of the trees and doing nothing much at all.

Giens, France our Go To Place Camping Olbia

I’m not sure if you can call La Madrague a village, because it’s not really big enough. Maybe, a quick description will give you a better idea.

Situated beside the pretty harbour, overlooking the mainland, you’ll find a mix of old fisherman’s cottages, which are now mostly quaint holiday retreats. There’s a coastal path taking you along the water’s edge, sometimes requiring the removal of shoes to wade through shallow water.

It doesn’t matter, because it’s just that kind of place, where shoes should be optional.

The only form of commerce is a couple of eateries which double up as a bar and coffee shop, along with a small convenience shop.

Other than that, there’s kayak’s for rent but not much else.

Leading from Camping Olbia is the beginning of the coastal path, stretching out in a sometimes athletic fashion.

We’ve walked it in sections, because the Sentier du Litterol is lengthy and fairly up and down in places. Along its route, are a mix of dramatic coastal views and small coves. Making an ideal position for a swim break along the way.

One favourite beach is Plage de Darboussieres. This can be reached on foot within about 10 minutes of Camping Olbia, via the road then short section of forest through La Madrague.

Sometimes, we take to our bikes and ride back towards Hyères and the kitesurfing beach at Plage d’Almanarre.

Then, there’s market day in Giens, the main village centre itself, in the middle of the peninsula. Not only is it a good market, selling delicious local produce, but it’s a lovely atmosphere too.

Afterwards, it’s nice to take a stroll through the centre, amongst the few shops and cafe’s on offer. The only downside, it’s an uphill slog to reach Giens. So, there’s a bit of an effort needed on our bikes.

Having said that, I’m sure there’s a local bus connecting the peninsula, although we haven’t used it ourselves.

On the other side of the peninsula, 7km from Camping Olbia is their sister campsite, La Tour Fondue.

Although we have also stayed at La Tour Fondue, for us it doesn’t have the same intimate, natural feel as Camping Olbia. However, it’s right by the small ferry port where you can take a boat to the island of Porquerolles.

It’s also on the doorstep to some lovely little beaches as well as the coastal path. Another bonus with La Tour Fondue is that it opens longer, usually closing around the first week in November. On the other hand, Camping Olbia usually closes mid-October.

Pine forest and Crystal clear sea

Amongst other things, there’s something so naturally appealing about the smell of pine forest. Not only is it beautiful to look at but it’s just so Mediterranean.

Speaking of which, Giens is all about the sea and its crystal clear waters. There’s something for everyone here, from sandy bays to pebble coves and each has one thing in common – the irresistible turquoise sea.

On that note, I’ll leave the contemplating thought of a warm sun setting over calm sea, sipping a chilled glass of wine and just doing nothing! Overall, that’s what this little piece of paradise is all about and we can’t wait to return very soon.

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