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G + 10 : Porquerolles - The Storm

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

Waves at the West End of Porquerolles were higher than 1.5 meters. Glad we are not at Sea

We all wondered this morning how the day would turn out. The cold and dry Mistral had cleared the sky. We woke up to bright sunlight which bathed everything in the most intense colours. Wind speeds were already above 10 knots - would it really exceed 30 knots later today? Many sailboats took the same precaution as we did. The port of Porquerolles was packed. There was no space left.

The Sailboats are lined up like Sardines in a Can. The waves outside had already white tops

Porquerolles' Fire Department was also worried. A strong Mistral dries the soil within hours and creates the preconditions for forest fires. A single burning cigarette is all that is needed to start a big fire. 90% of Porquerolles was thus declared off limits for visitors. There were too many forest fires last year in France that resulted in tragic loss of life and millions of Euros in damages. The decision of the French Authorities is understandable, but annoying. The hilly area of southern Porquerolles with its tiny, charming beaches is the most beautiful part of the island. As always, everybody pays the price for a few undisciplined idiots.

Everybody leasing a bike receives this map and was told the "riot act" - incl. the fines!

Despite being constraint to the northern shore, the bike ride at 8.30 am was terrific. There were no day tourists from Hyères yet - not many were expected anyway - we had the biking path all to our self. The noise of the wind and the crickets were our only companions. It was nature as a poem.

There were two lonely sailboats in this bay on the eastern side of Porquerolles - wonder how they were doing later today as the swell got stronger and stronger. I guess they are experienced sea legs who are used to a "little" up and down.

There were only two people on the entire beach

Back on the Manatea, I was looking over to the peninsula of Gien and wondered how the "forth" island got attached to the mainland. I did not have to look too far to find a well done video on YouTube. A French geologist explained in his broad Provencal dialect how this happened over the last few thousand years. He was very proud that France had one of only five tombolo in the world. In a nutshell, the natural sea currents carry sediments and sand against an existing obstacle and form a land bridge.

View from Hyères to Giens - the tombolo shield the salt fields - the island at the back is Porquerolles

The formation of the tombolo to the west (right on the photo above) started first as soon as the water levels rose at the end of the last ice age. It is underpinned by a rocky ridge between the former island of Giens and Hyères on the mainland. The tombolo to the left is far younger and only a few thousand years old. By 1'000 BC its formation was complete. The tombolo are not stable structures though. Every year, Giens has to spend a large amount of money to stabilise them with dredging and bringing in additional sand.

Tombolo Formation around 3'000 BC - the western

Tombolo is formed; the eastern complete by 1'000 BC

By the time the first Greek settlers arrived and established the town of Olbia, both tombolo were in place. It is probably one of the reasons the Greek selected the base of the western tombolo as site for their new town. It protected them against easterly and westerly winds. Olbia was not a big town. It was a trading outpost. But it had all a Greek town needed. A market place, public buildings, a small port and storage facilities. Founded in 325 BC, the town was taken over by Rome a good 150 years later. The Romans added Bath Houses.

Remains of the Greek Town of Olbia - Giens at the back

At low tide, the Remains of Olbia's ancientPiers are

still visible - visitors are not allowed to get close

Wind Forecast for tomorrow, 14.00 h - still 27 knots

We do not know whether we have time to visit Olbia as originally planned. We may also have to cancel the visit to Chateau LeLoube which makes my favourite Rosé. With wind speeds in the high 20ies, we may have to stay for another night in Porquerolles. We have to be patient. Maybe we can outfox Neptune with our patience.

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