Have you ever heard about Hyères? I haven’t, and my decision to go there was quite spontanious. Somehow I stumbled upon a Lonely Planet entry about this lovely, little town in the south telling me, basically, that it’s a charming gem only visited by the Frenchies themselves. So, since I was already on the train website and had just booked the TGV to Paris, I didn’t hesitate too long to book another one to the south.
After pressing my face against the window to finally see the sea again (happy me!!!), missing the first train from Toulon to Hyères (no, you can’t trust the info screen when it says 50 minutes en retard…), I took a train straight out of a childrens’ book, short and colourfully painted, to Hyères.
Then came, as always, the moment of suspense, when you step off a train/plane in an unknown place. I did, and there was… well, nothing much. A teeny train station, a few uninteresting streets around. No beach, no pretty old town. Technically, I knew that the centre was not right next to the train station and yet I almost felt regret. But, being the pragmatist I am, I had a quick glance at a bus stop map and started walking away from the train station towards what I hoped would be the centre. My mood brightened quickly once I saw the first orange trees. (The oranges are no good, though.)
- There are buses going from the train station to the town centre, e.g. 67 and 39. A one-way ticket is €1,40, you can buy it from the driver. You’ll find all bus timetables at the train station.
- The same buslines also go to various beaches. If you have a tight schedule, do plan ahead, as they don’t run very often.
- Go to the tourist office first to get yourself a free map. (They might have them at the train station as well.)
- Whether you missed the last train or want to stay there on purpose, the Bonaparte hotel in Toulon is very nice, inexpensive and close to the train station and the harbour.