Campsite near Golden Islands Var
In communion with nature
On Ile du Levant
Ile du Levant Golden Islands Var
Wild and rebellious...
Ile du Levant for nature lovers
Campsite near Hyères
Ile du Levant,
a balcony over Mediterranean waters
Campsite Var near Ile du Levant
Ile du Levant off the coast of our campsite
The wonders of the Var, French Riviera-Côte d'Azur

Ile du Levant

Discover (by boat!) Ile du Levant, a Mediterranean island located just a few nautical miles from our four-star campsite Les Jardins de La Pascalinette®. Ile du Levant is the third of the Iles d’Or or Golden Islands, alongside Porquerolles and Port-Cros.

Ile du Levant island, wild beauty

Ile du Levant, the 3rd Golden Island, off the coast of our four-star campsite Les Jardins de La Pascalinette ® in La Londe.
Ile du Levant in the Mediterranean

Inhabited since the early Bronze Age (1800 – 1500 BC), Ile du Levant is just as large as its sister island Porquerolles. However, only one-tenth of its surface area is open to the public. In addition to its beautiful nature reserve (50 acres), the island is also a very famous Mediterranean naturist site!

Nonetheless, sporty holiday fans staying at the campsite can also enjoy diving and swimming there, and discovering its aquatic treasures. The island is accessible by boat – you can hop on at the port of Hyères or Le Lavandou.

A tumultuous history

Ile du Levant basks in authentic natural scenery, but it also stands witness to a very dark chapter in France’s history…

This peaceful little Mediterranean island in the Var area, French Riviera-Côte d’Azur, was the site of a penal colony for young offenders in the mid-1900s. Its aim was to put these young lost souls back on the right path using methods considered as educational at the time but which, in retrospect, were obviously cruel and inhumane.

In the mid-20th century, France faced a series of major social challenges, in particular growing juvenile delinquency. The authorities at the time reacted by setting up various institutions intended to rehabilitate the young offenders. Unfortunately, the methods adopted on Ile du Levant island proved to be brutal and dehumanizing.

The children's penal colony on Ile du Levant
Revolt at the French prison – Fourteen boys burnt alive – Source Wikipedia

Emperor Napoleon legalized penal colonies for children in 1860 and in February of the following year, a convoy of around sixty young vagabonds aged between 2 and 21 years made its way over the Mediterranean waters to the wildest of the three Golden Islands. They were to become the first detainees of the “Colonie Agricole de Sainte-Anne”.

Living conditions at the penal colony were very hard on both a physical and psychological level. The young prisoners were subjected to forced labour and draconian discipline. Education, which was supposedly the pillar of the institution, was often neglected in favour of punitive methods. Under the guise of re-educating youngsters who had lost their way, the penal colony was actually used to maintain and farm the island’s 2,200 acres of land.

The Ile du Levant penal colony left deep scars on the children that were held there. Many suffered lasting trauma that compromised their ability to reintegrate society after their release. The painful experiment sparked a growing public outcry, which finally led to the establishment being shut down.

Today, a memorial stone stands on the island in memory of the hundreds of children who lost there lives there, as well as those who, in the twenty-seven long years the penal colony was in operation, managed to withstand their appalling treatment.

Ile du Levant, a remarkable natural heritage too

Today, Ile du Levant’s nature reserve, “Domaine des Arbousiers”, lends the island much of its exceptional charm. Eco-friendly holiday fans who appreciate camping in the midst of our exceptional vegetation will be thrilled to discover the incredible beauty of this rebellious island and its botanical footpath. Despite the fact that only 10% of the island is open to the public (the remainder is military land), Ile du Levant’s “Héliopolis” site is France’s leading naturist destination. But don’t worry, everyone is welcome to explore the beaches and coves of this enchanting island, whether dressed or undressed!

To get there, head to the boat bus jetty on the port of Hyères (Port Saint-Pierre, the crossing takes about 1½ hours), or Le Lavandou port, where you can hop on a taxi boat to the island.

Make sure you take plenty of fresh water along with you as there is no drinking water on the island! Please note too that smoking on the island is strictly prohibited for obvious safety reasons.

Ile du Levant civilian port
Ayguade du Levant – Photo: Matthieu Sontag, Licence CC-BY-SA.
  • Latitude : 43.027991
    Longitude : 6.466566