Hyères is the oldest resort on the Côte, listing Queen Victoria and Tolstoy among its early admirers. Set back from the coast, it lost out when the focus of tourism switched from winter convalescence to the beach. Today it exports cut flowers and exotic plants – the most important being the date palm, which graces every street – and it’s a garrison town. Walled, medieval old Hyères perches on the slopes of Casteou hill, 5km from the sea; below it lies the modern town, with its elegant villas in fanciful pseudo-Moorish styles; avenue Gambetta is its main north–south axis. At the coast, the Presqu’Île de Giens is leashed to the mainland by an isthmus, known as La Capte, and a parallel sand bar enclosing salt flats.

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