690 hectares bathed in sunlight, a cristalline sea, a deep forest from which the springs gush forth : welcome to Port-Cros, the mellow.
Curled up in the hollow of a deep cove, the pink ochre hamlet of Port Cros, a minuscule village of 20 permanent inhabitants, has just a few restaurants and houses dotted amongst the palm trees.
The peace of the landing stage, with its mock Carribean air, seduces the most blasé of travellers.
Overlooking the port, the Moulin fort, which for a long time has watched over the island, today peacefully welcomes its visitors, right by a little cemetery. Once past the inhabited spots, the bushland begins, with its dense vegetation of myrtle, mastic trees, strawberry trees, olive trees and heather that compete with the pines and holm oaks.
Aerial view of Port Cros
Fisherman port on the Port Cros Island
View from the Port Cros Island
Beach of Port Cros
Walk in the woods of Port Cros
Trails for walkers - Wild fruits
Petanque - Diving in Port Cros
Port Cros is the oldest French National Park and the rules are strict
it's forbidden to smoke or make a fire, to camp or bivouac, in order to avoid any risk of fires; there are speed limits for boats and above all, complete interdiction to hunt, to fish or to gather shellfish or plants.
It's a small price to pay to protect the 530 recorded species of plants, some 1500 species of birds - including the gannet, the ash puffin and the shag - and the 250 species of Lepidotera, including the largest butterfly in Europe.
The Port Cros national Park
The National Park has marked out three theme trails around the island.
The first one, the botanical trail, lets you discover all the richness of the Port Cros vegetation. This walk runs along the coast and gives you beautiful views of the sea, then comes back to the village through the island's interior.
The second, the "history trail", climbs the hills' summits and leads to the island's five forts (Forts du Moulin, de l'Estissac, de l'Eminence, de Port Man and de la Vigie). The hike takes approximately one day : be careful not to miss the last boat back in the vening !
Port Cros, first national Sea Park in Europe and the Mediterranean
The third trail, the most original, is one that introduces you to to the marine environment.
For Port Cros is the first national sea park in Europe and the Mediterranean : its sea bottom is preserved ; the undersea fauna and flora is exceptional. Experienced divers love exploring, for example, the surroundings of the Gabinière rock, as there are many moray eels, groupers and barracudas.
But for beginners, the undersea trail between the La Palud beach and the Ilot du Rascas provides an excellent glimpse of the sea floor's beauty. Equipped with a mask, a snorkel and a pair of flippers, accompanied or not by a park guide, all you have to do is follow the ten numbered observation markers, easily seen from the surface. A plastic-coated leaflet edited by the Parc lets you read, while you're swimming, commentaries on the observed fauna and flora.