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Strolls

In the paradise of pink flamingos

Strolling in nature
Hyères Salt marshes offer an open landscape contrasting with the hilly landscapes of the conglomeration.

Salt marshes make-up a strategic fauna and floral observation site.

They are part of the European network sites named "Natura 2000" and being recognized as a "Wet Zone of International Interest" they have been major biodiversity spots since 2008.

Sea, lagoons, generous sun and mistral have favoured the exploitation of this coast for a salt production at the foundations of Hyères with the emergence of the Greek counter of Olbia. The Old Salt marshes coiled in the foothills of the Moors massif (Massif des Maures) have been recognized since the Middle Ages while Pesquiers Salt marsh set in Giens Peninsula double tombolo has been exploited since 1848. There, salt marshes offer a two-faceted landscape: the beach and the dunes on one hand, the salt marshes on the other hand. The balance which reigns among species contributes to the harmony of the landscape, witness of the natural coastal spaces between land and sea, formerly very wide-spread. One discovers a mosaic of aquatic ecosystems varying with salinity.This environmental diversity finds its origin in the salt exploitation and the hydraulic management of the sites is still implemented to protect this inheritance of nature and culture.

On certain days of April or May, we can observe more than 80 species of migratory birds. Kentish plovers, stilt plovers, little terns, avocets, common shelducks are part of remarkable nestling birds of the site.But prestigious hosts live in these remarkable places: pink flamingos, the aristocratic, mysterious and unknown birds. Wings unfurled, the big birds offer a spectacular sight. The study of the banded flamingos showed the importance of Giens as a resting and wintering area: more than 10 % of Camargue flamingos come to rest or feed, at some point of their lives in the arms of the double tombolo.

It is mainly during cold spells that the swamps of Giens play a fundamental role: whereas Camargue is often frozen and empties of its birds, in Giens, thanks to the mild microclimate we attend the concentration of birds pushed by the cold. In the period of the premarital migrations, in the autumn and in the winter, you can see a great diversity of species of water birds. Pink flamingos, ducks, coots, herons, cormorants, small wading birds, gulls, terns and shoreline birds evolve on the Salt marshes of Hyères throughout the seasons.An early morning rise and a little attention along with a good pair of binoculars will allow to admire these magnificent parades.

Thematic guided tours of Salt marshes can make you discover these exceptional places of the Conurbation.

1

Departure from la Verne small parking lot. Come down towards the pebble beach by a yellow marked path on your right. You will follow a small construction site where mix the famous “pointus” ( typical Provençal boats) are alongside.

This beach offers you the possibility of practising windsurfing as well as a safe swimming area.

2

You will reach a fork. You will make it to the left towards the Dominique Jaubert boulevard and walk 15 m, then just next to a big iron gate, you will follow a narrow path on your left. You will follow a mini-golf belonging to a private owner.

At the end of this path, take the staircases on your right which will lead you on a creek of black sand. You will see that Fabrégas beach is the starting point of water-based leisure activities (kayak, water-skiing).

3

At the far end of Fabrégas beach you will walk by a fish restaurant follow the Baou Rouge Path in the direction of Jonquet nudist beach.

Along the path you will observe very beautiful twisted schist. The reserves accumulated in the root tubers of the asphodel shelter the plant from the fire which clears up for its seeds and flowers. In the summer, if you are a bit hungry, you can enjoy blackberries but be careful they can be infected by foxes!

4

In the spring, wild orchids mix with myrtles, in brooms, or cistuses of Montpellier with their beautiful spring white flowers, or finally the aphyllanthe of Montpellier bearing white flowers, even bluish pink on its stem.

Because of collapses and of the dangerousness of the site, the initial path has been definitively closed to the public. Looking forward to the conclusions on the feasibility and the terms of the creation of a new path Var cliff road, the path was temporarily deported on the latter. Use the bypassing route leading to “le Boeuf” and Jonquet areas. Please abide by the prohibiting procedure.

5

Var cliff road overhanging the sea offers a magnificent view of the “Rochers des Deux Frères” (the Rocks of the two Brothers) and will take you to Jonquet Area.

6

From Jonquet area stroll down by the DFCI (Defense of Forests Against the Fires) forest track to find the path of the coast (“Sentier du littoral.

The path winds up the side of the massif among honeysuckle of the Balearic Islands, fennel and Calycotome spinosa which colour in yellow the summer landscape in yellow. You will recognize the latter by its thorns which you’d better avoid.

Finally, in the summer we notice the famous greenbrier on the massif. It is a fine liana with dreadful hooks.

7

Opposite the alignment of “Les Rochers des Deux Frères” (the Rocks of the Two Brothers), you will follow a path on your right, heading “la Maison du Pendu” (The Hangman’s House) Notre-Dame du Mai. On a long stony and rough ascent you will see white diamonds and blackberries.

Phew! A stopping place to satisfy a small raging hunger and admire the panorama. A viewpoint indicator will allow a reading of the landscape.

8

You will arrive on a DFCI track. The flora is varied with the pine, the astragal of Marseille, the prickly pear, the wild asparagus, the wild olive tree, the rosemary and the maritime tree lavatera which develops at 4,92 ft the first year without stopping blooming if the wintry temperature stays over 23°F.

9

At the fork, set to the left, then walk up straight ahead to the semaphore and turn right heading to 985 ft high Notre-Dame du Mai.

10

You arrive in front of a second viewpoint indicator. From there, a 360° view on the coast and the open sea will leave you speechless.

Maybe you will see a peregrine falcon over the cliffs diving into the Mediterranean Sea. The fauna on this massif is rich with the hoopoe, the pale swift and European bee-eaters moving with the suppleness of larks.

 

Return by the same route.

 

By car

“Salins des Pesquiers” (Salt marshes of Pesquiers) in Toulon, take the direction of Hyères-les-Palmiers either  by road D 559, which crosses Carqueiranne, or highway A 570. At the level of the “Rond-Point de l’hippodrome” (traffic circle of the racecourse), follow the road of La Gapte leading to Giens Peninsula.

“Vieux salins” in Toulon, take the direction of Hyères-les-Palmiers then la Londe and head to “Vieux Salins” (Old Salt marshes) at the first interchange RD12.

Other:

By coach: line 67 Hyères Centre/Tour Fondue.

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