A trip to Provence means merging yourself into French culture and history with great coastal cities and amazing beaches to visit. For example TOULON is a city where nature pairs up well with everything man has built. Let’s make a small virtual tour in the city of Toulon, waiting to do a proper, real trip there on holiday as soon as possible!
TOULON is a town in the South-East of France; it is a port on the Mediterranean Sea, halfway between Marseille and Saint-Tropez.
Although Marseille and Nice are are the best known cities in the region (meaning the area including Provence / Alpes / Côte d’Azur), Toulon is the main naval base of France: in fact, the maritime prefecture of the Mediterranean is located in this city.
Choosing to spend a few days in Toulon means gearing up to make the most of the holiday, both for relaxation of its beaches and for the cultural and historic interest of the old city.
The coast offers kilometers and kilometers of sandy beaches, but also small coves hidden among the rocks and green pine forests.
Arriving by boat you will enjoy in full the astonishing view offered by the Bay of Toulon with its beaches, the port, the arsenal and fortified towers.
The fortifications are ancient and numerous: TOUR ROYALE, commissioned by King Louis XII, dates back to 1513; later, in the XVII century, they were built two more strong in front of the Tour Royale to better defend the harbor entrance.
STRONG SAINT-LOUIS is located on the Littoral F.Mistral. It was built in 1696, then destroyed and rebuilt again.
In FORT BALAGUIER, on the Corniche Bonaparte-La Seyne, you can visit the museum housed within it.
The TOUR CARRÉE lies instead in the Arsenal. There is also a bell tower: the chimes of the bell marking the start and end of working hours.
The naval base is quite extensive: there are establishments of the National Maritime and, subsequently, also the little nostalgic marine cemetery where ships are moored for the last time.
Throughout the city there are references to the sea and navigation, testimonies of what was mainly in the past, but it still remains, the main resource for the inhabitants of Toulon.
In Place Monsergue there is the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MARINA. The museum is very interesting, as it is the monumental gate which is located at its entrance. This historical monument dating back to XII century; on either side there are statues of Mars and Minerva.
In Carré du Port you can admire the bronze statue representing the GENIUS OF NAVIGATION. It is a work of the sculptor L.Daumas created in honor of King Louis-Philippe. In the Passage des Capucins area is however a very faithful reproduction and monument of the prow of a ship of the fleet of the King.
The fountains are numerous, as many as 18, scattered throughout the city.The DE LA FONTAINE FÉDÉRATION is located on the Place de la Liberté. On this square is the Grand Hôtel, 1869, with its splendid façade.
The Opera House in Place Victor Hugo is magnificent. The Opéra de Toulon was inaugurated in 1862.
Art lovers have the opportunity to visit several museums that can certainly interest you: the MUSÉE D’ART located at Boulevard Maréchal Leclerc; in the same street there is also the HOTEL DES ARTS which is a Contemporary Art Centre. For all those who wish to broaden their knowledge of other cultures, it would be great to visit the MUSÉE DES ARTS ASIATIQUES located near the Fort Saint-Louis.
Photography enthusiasts can admire many interesting exhibitions in the MAISON DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE, in the Place du Globe.
The story is rather the great star in the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle de Toulon et du Var, as well as the MUSÉE D’HISTOIRE DE TOULON which is located in a beautiful Renaissance palace – admission is free.
In the heart of the old city the CATHÉDRALE de SAINTE-MARIE-DE-LA-SEDS offers to the visitor’s gaze a mixture of all different styles: the construction is Roman style but the facade is classic with details of baroque style; the bell tower instead is pure Provençal style.
The whole of the old town area is very impressive; there are still some parts of the fortified walls as for example in the district des Lices or, Place Armand Vallée, the PORTE D’ITALIE. Another door is DES ATLANTES which was classified as an historic monument: it was created in 1657 by sculptor Pierre Puget. You can visit all the historical part of the city with white tourist train: the ride is very pleasant and you go from the old town to the most beautiful beaches in the bay.
Toulon is obviously also a seaside town and its beaches, either the most popular or the ones located in the most hidden places, are so beautiful that you would never go away. The best known and equipped are the DU MOURILLON beaches. Here you are really spoiled for choice: you will find in fact both long sandy beaches and wild beaches like those of LA MITRE, and Mejean MAGAUD. Along the path that follows the coast of Cap-Brun there are several hidden coves between cliffs and pine forests.
The whole bay can be admired by taking “bateaux bus” ranging from Toulon to various beaches, but also to the Iles d’Hyères, the island of Levant, mainly popular among nudists, the Port Cros which is a nature reserve since 1963 but with very few limitations to be respected in order to visit it and, finally, the Saint Mandrier peninsula at the south end of the bay, about 15 km from the city. So you will have to admire even the smallest coves on clear sea and you can also visit the mussel farms in the Bay of Lazaret.
Photo CC-BY-SA 3.0 David.Monniaux
An excursion that will make you enthusiastic is Mont Faron, 542 m above sea level, to do by the cable way. Once at the top you can enjoy a fantastic view over the city. The only problem for this excursion could be an excess of wind: in case of a very windy day, the cable car will no be running.