The old town lies from the sea clustered around the Castle of Saint Bernard, which is set on a hill. Between the old town and the sea lies the pine-covered hill of Costebelle, which overlooks the peninsula of Giens. Hyères is the oldest resort on the French Riviera.
The Hellenic city of Olbia was refounded on the Phoenician settlement that dated to the fourth century BC; Olbia is mentioned by the geographer Strabo (IV.1.5) as a city of the Massiliotes that was fortified "against the tribe of the Salyes and against those Ligures who live in the Alps". Greek and Roman antiquities have been found in the area. The first reference to the town dates from 964.
Originally a possession of the Viscount of Marseilles, it was later transferred to Charles of Anjou. Louis IX King of France (often known as "St Louis") landed at Hyères in 1254 when returning from the Crusades.
After defecting from Soviet intelligence in 1937, Walter Krivitsky hid in Hyères (one of the farthest points in France from his operative base in Paris).
World War II
As part of Operation Dragoon on 15 August 1944, the joint United States/Canadian First Special Service Force came ashore off the coast of Hyères to take the islands of Port-Cros and Levant. The small German garrisons offered little resistance and the whole eastern part of Port-Cros had been secured by 06:30 am. All fighting was over on Levant by the evening, but, on Port-Cros, the Germans withdrew into old thick-walled forts. It was only when naval guns were brought to bear that they realised that further resistance was useless. An intense naval barrage on 18 August 1944 heralded the next phase of the operation – the assault on the largest of the Hyères islands, Porquerolles. French forces – naval units and colonial formations, including Senegalese infantry – became involved on 22 August and subsequently occupied the island. US/Canadian Special Forces landing at the eastern end of Porquerolles took large numbers of prisoners – the Germans preferring not to surrender to the Senegalese.