Porquerolles, France

While lesser-known than its other southern French counterparts of Saint-Tropez, Antibes and Cap-Ferrat, Porquerolles is one of France's most charming stretches of land. The majority of this island, located just off the coast of Hyères, is protected as part of the Port-Cros National Park. This makes for a particularly rugged coastline and ancient pine forests that remain untouched, which have become somewhat a rarity along the tourist-trodden Riviera.

The scents on Porquerolles alone are worth a visit. Thanks to the laws protecting most of the island from becoming overbuilt, notes of eucalyptus, fig and olive trees fill the air. You'll be walking down to the beach barefoot with lavender sprigs in your hair in no time.

Don't miss

Very few cars are allowed on the island, meaning leisurely strolls and bike rides along dirt paths are the order of the day. Pop a bottle of rosé into your bicycle's basket and head to Plage Notre Dame for a full day on the water. Often touted as the most beautiful beach in France (and even all of Europe), Notre Dame has crystalline water and immaculate sand that can be difficult to find outside the Caribbean. Surrounded by trees, you'll feel like you're in Fitzgerald's France of the 1920s, away from the built-up condos lining the beaches of Nice and Cannes.

Porquerolles is quite a bohemian stay, so eating out is fairly casual. For one of the best places for food on the island, head to Le Mas du Langoustier, a farmhouse-like hotel nestled amid the pines. There are two restaurants on site, with the Michelin-starred L'Olivier serving up creative takes on Provençal cuisine. In keeping with the relaxed feeling of the island, however, we prefer grilled fish and crisp white wine on the terrace at the hotel's La Pinède.

Who to bring with you

A group of friends - this is the place for renting a villa and sharing Mediterranean-style lunches al fresco at home.

When to go

Visit the island towards the end of August, when the larger hordes of visitors clear out and only the last few French families enjoying their month-long holiday remain before returning to Paris. To feel like you have the whole place to yourself while it's still warm enough for afternoon dips in the sea, Porquerolles is heavenly all September long.

Most likely to bump into

Camille Rowe sunning herself away from the paparazzi.

Essentials to bring with you

A trip to Porquerolles calls for an all-natural French look - pack a classic striped marinière shirt and a thick headband à la Brigitte Bardot in Contempt.

How to get there

Fly into Toulon-Hyères Airport and take a 20-minute boat ride to the island.

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