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Domaine de l'Ile - Porquerolles - Côtes de Provence

François-Joseph Fournier,
The man from Porquerolles

Domaine de l'Ile - Porquerolles - Côtes de Provence

One man’s odyssey, an island’s metamorphosis

Domaine de l'Ile - Porquerolles - Côtes de Provence

In the West and a dream of autarky

There are stories that seem to come out of a novel. Those of François-Joseph Fournier and the island of Porquerolles are among them, so closely are they linked to travel, adventure and passionate love.

The son of a Belgian boatman, François-Joseph embarked for the Americas in 1883. Full steam ahead! After New York, Canada, Panama and California, he headed for Nevada and its gold rush. From there he found his path forward, the same that would lead him to Mexico.

His adventurous soul travelled through the regions of Chiapas and Tabasco, and it was love at first sight. So strong that his first farm was born there, the “Compania Agricola y Colonizadora de Tabasco y Chiapas”, and his modern vision of a new world was fully realised.

His dream of autonomy, fulfilment and well-being is communal, and shared with his staff. Dispensaries, schools and musical ensembles emerge, and with them the foundations of an ideal of self-sufficiency. An island of gentle independence grows in the middle of the desert.

Domaine de l'Ile - Porquerolles - Côtes de Provence

An island of one's own

In 1911, the Mexican revolution broke out and he returned to France. In Porquerolles, he rediscovers some of the light and scents of Mexico. An unexpected gentleness welcomed him and cradled him, offering him that longed-for feeling of belonging. Porquerolles was to be his kingdom. So much so that in 1912 he bought the island, which was then put up for auction. Madly in love with Sylvia, his young wife, he gave her this jewel as a wedding present. As if to punctuate an exalting life with love, by settling down in one’s own place.

Time to take root. This is what Porquerolles is, a paradise in a nook of the Mediterranean, that invites you to settle down. François-Joseph Fournier is dreaming again. He loves the island so much he desires his life to be fully there, without need to visit the mainland. A life of total autonomy. So, he plants fruit trees in abundance, tending the forests and channelling the water, to offer its inhabitants a haven of peace cut off from the world. This is how the development of wine-growing land, the cultivation of citrus fruits, market gardening and livestock farming begins. People live to the rhythm of the harvests, from the land or from the sea.

Over time, Porquerolles asserts its agricultural face. The vineyard populates its gentle slopes and enlivens the talk of the village.