The Southern France Town That Ticks Every Box
By Tuula Rampont
Located in southeastern France, the town of Hyeres is one of the top retirement spots along the long stretch of coastline collectively known as the French Riviera. While life in this inviting seaside hamlet tips to the pricier side of the budget scales, reasonable housing choices still exist in the historic center of town (la vieille ville).
Bargain hunters will want to set down roots in one of Hyeres’ classic blonde-stone French village homes, while those looking to splash out will find a large selection of modern, Mediterranean-style villas ready for purchase—swimming pools and sea views on option.
Nearing 60,000 residents, Hyeres is one of the most expansive communities in France—with around 18 miles separating its outermost limits. Herein lies one of the town’s principal attractions, a startlingly beautiful geographical diversity that combines the charms of old-world Provence with an unparalleled suburban landscape.
In the center of town, you’ll find a cozy maze of cobblestoned streets filled with cafés, restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries. Heading southward, Hyeres’ urban make-up falls away, opening up to 24 miles of scenic coastline which wraps around the Giens peninsula and skips over to the Ils d’Or—three stunning Mediterranean islands accessible by ferry from the port of Giens.
Bring your flip-flops and umbrella drinks for Hyeres’ Caribbean-style mainland beaches, and your good walking shoes and high-end cameras for a day out at the islands. With its black-sand beaches, hidden seaside coves, and rosé-producing wineries, Porquerolles island is a showstopper. Turquoise waters, sugar-fine sand, and luscious umbrella pines are some of the island’s signature features, which helped the sparkling beach of Notre-Dame grab the title of “Best Beach in Europe” in 2015.
Retire in Hyeres, France
With a significant retirement community (from France and other European countries), Hyeres takes care of, and appreciates, its retirees. From art and cultural clubs to healthcare and shopping services, a great deal of energy and investment is put into the well-being of the town’s senior residents.
Known as a destination for “art and history”, visual artists, sculptors, designers, restorers of old books, and painters are located in the historic center. It’s possible to visit their workshops or take part in local art openings (vernissage) or exhibitions. The Villa Noailles Modern Art Museum hosts seasonal events like the Hyeres Design Festival (June to September) and an International Fashion and Photography Festival every October.
The town has its own official clubs and associations website (http://asso.hyeres.fr/), which features a long, diverse list of groups for every interest. Film lovers, music aficionados, photographers, and theater enthusiasts will be just as at home as tennis, yoga, and golf fans. A municipal, Olympic-size pool is another popular center of activity. Equipped with a spa (sauna and hammam), the pool offers water aerobics, water cycling, and water sculpting classes.
Hyeres has extensive healthcare offerings, including two main hospitals (Center Hospital and Sainte Marguerite Hospital) and several specialized clinics. Renée Sabran Hospital, located in a seaside complex on the Giens peninsula, is reputed for its geriatric services, follow-up care, and rehabilitation facilities. https://www.chu-lyon.fr/hopital-renee-sabran
Retirees will enjoy visiting, shopping, and dining in the very walkable historic center, with several bus routes available for day trips to the local beaches and the Giens peninsula. The Toulon-Hyeres airport is a short drive, or bus ride, from the center and serves Paris and other destinations around France. International flights connect residents to London, Brussels, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
Lifestyle in Hyeres, France
Picture all the attributes of an easy-living southern France getaway, throw in a large dollop of Mediterranean Sea breezes and lost-in-time beachside escapes, and you’ve tapped into the Hyeres’ lifestyle.
A little bit Key West, and a little bit upscale Provence, residents of Hyeres can while away their mornings eating croissants and drinking café au laits in a chic, downtown bistro, and their afternoons sipping pina coladas at Tahiti Plage—an island-inspired restaurant in the bohemian beach community of La Capte.
The colorful, lively farmers’ market is another standard of life in Hyeres. This fine food and textile market takes place every Thursday on Hyeres’ elegant main square (Place Clemenceau), and Wednesday and Saturday mornings on Avenue Gambetta. A great way to pick up fresh, local produce or specialty products like olives, fresh pasta, or tapenades, visiting a French farmers’ market is one of the main social events of the day. Catching up with friends, expats, and enjoying a bit of local gossip, many choose to finish the morning at any of the gourmet restaurants in the historic center. Le Jardin offers traditional French fare and elegant Provençal dishes, while Maison Sarroche is the spot to discover the best in French pastries—sit down or takeaway.
Hyeres also counts three large parks, with walking trails and botanic gardens, among its public spaces. A host of outdoor activities exist on the islands, and a scenic drive along the coast will take residents to the luxurious beach communities of Le Lavandou, Cannes, and Saint Tropez.
Cost of Living in Hyeres, France
As Hyeres ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a retirement destination, lower-cost housing options will be more limited than in other areas of France. Standard living expenses will depend on tastes and activity preferences. Hyeres has both traditional French supermarket chains and high-end specialty stores. Local bistros serving set-price menus ($18 to $25 for a two-course meal) are quite affordable, while fine-dining establishments like La Colombe top out at $82 for a three-course meal.
For budget-wise retirees, buying or renting an apartment in the historic center will be the best bet. Modern, move-in-ready listings start at around $307,170 for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom 860-square-foot apartment with a balcony in a secure complex. Prices can go up or down depending on location, amenities, and size. Furnished, two-bedroom, one-bath rentals (860-square-feet) can be found for $1,300.
Home prices run quite a wide range, starting near $400,000 for a two-bedroom in the historic center to $1.2 million and up in Hyeres beachside communities—sea views and pieds dans le sable (feet in the sand) guaranteed.
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