Toulon – a city not to be missed in France

A trip to the city of Toulon. Sightseeing and Wild Beaches

Toulon was the last city in a series that we visited on the Cote d’Azur. It was after Monaco, Nice and Cannes. Geographically the city closes the Cote d’Azur to the east.

I’ll run ahead and say that after running through the beaches of Toulon this place wins out over the entire Cote d’Azur. This is if you only need the beach and the relaxation in the sun, not the status that you’re vacationing in Nice or Cannes. And at a cost this city is much cheaper than all the Cote d’Azur.

For those who do not know what Toulon is. This is a port city, and not just a regular port, but also a naval port, because a large number of the French Navy is concentrated here. In the port of this city is a warship Mistral, which because of European sanctions has not been transferred to Russia.

Tourists are offended by the city, as it is used mainly as a transshipment base. Tourist cruises arrive here and almost all passengers go to Marseille or other cities on the Cote d’Azur. Car ferries to Sardinia also depart from here.

How to get to Toulon

This is a fairly rare question, as everyone is wondering how to leave from here after arriving on the ferry. We went against the crowd and came here on purpose. Use my information to the contrary if your goal is not this provincial city.

  1. Marseille-Toulon. SNCF trains run every 30 minutes, tickets cost from 13€. There are also buses for 5€, but schedules are very rare. All tickets are sold here.
  2. Toulon-Nice . Similar to Marseille but with different prices – trains from 18€ and buses from 8€. Tickets are here.

Toulon sights

We took the cheapest bus from Marseille for 5€. In the morning bus never caught any traffic and the trip took just over 1 hour. We got there so early, that the sun had not risen yet and we had to wait for an hour at the station. By the way the station was quite busy for this provincial town.

While the sun was rising over the city and coloring the mountains, we were warming ourselves with coffee from a vending machine, and even fell asleep for about 40 minutes. After all, to get on the bus at 6-7 a.m. we had to get up at 4 a.m. Such are the disadvantages of traveling on a budget.

Sunrise in Toulon

Toulon’s main feature begins to speak of itself at the station square. The city is decorated with white lanterns and here are the first copies at the monument on the sea theme near the station.

Albert I square in Toulon

Gabriel Perry Square

We could go straight from the train station to the main square and then wander around the town and the port, but as usual we were keen to see more sights. The city is small, and the material for this article was needed. And the first thing we came across was the Plaza Gabriel Peri.

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On the square was a courthouse and a monument to the sailors who died in World War I and II. There was also the Alexander the First Garden, but it was closed.

The Courthouse - the city of Toulon

Monument to the sailors in Toulon

Again, we could have walked down one of the main streets and reached the central square, but on the map behind the courthouse was marked some landmark. It turned out to be a piece of some preserved gate. Not to be lost in the archives.

The Old Gateway A sightseeing attraction in Toulon

Now it was just about time for the main street as well.

Toulon Architecture

Bank building, Toulon

Freedom Square

When I got to Freedom Square, it was hard not to take a photo with myself. In fact, this is the best photo I got at the time. The square itself looks prettier in the sunlight.

Freedom Square - Toulon

Now we dive into the streets of the old city. Although there are not many of them, but let’s try to find something there.

Old city of Toulon

Old Street in Toulon

Streets of Toulon, France

Toulon - Scenery in the old town

The first thing we found wandering in small circles through these 3-4 streets was the Church of St. Louis.

St. Louis Church, Toulon

Not far from the church was the most unusual find. The hull of an old wooden ship attached to the building. The find once again reminds us of this port city.

Toulon sights Sculpture de Bateau

Toulon Opera.

Everything in this city is close and a couple of streets away from the ship is the Toulon Opera, except we found it on the way back to the train station. I will show you the photo now, so as not to confuse the story with fragments between the sea, beaches and the old town. The Opera is on the photo in the afternoon sun and the photo is a little bit blurry, but there is no better.

Toulon Opera

Back to the streets of the old town, but this time the emphasis was not on the streets themselves, but on the white lanterns.

White lanterns on the houses in Toulon

Lanterns on the streets of Toulon

Of the things that are worth finding in Toulon is a monument Partie de Cartes de Raimu. As I understand it is a miniature of the TV show of the same name in France. The show is from an era when the picture on TV was black and white.

Partie de Cartes de Raimu Monument

Next to the monument was an unusual find. A store of Russian matryoshkas and other symbols of the USSR judging by the name.

The Matryoshka store in Toulon

Notre Dame de la Sade Cathedral

Again we realized the disadvantage of arriving early. The city’s main cathedral was still closed to the public, so only photos of the outside. To be honest, we were not particularly upset, because the count of this cathedral probably already exceeded a thousand. In every old European town you can find a dozen Catholic churches, and we’ve been to more than a hundred cities in Europe.

Notre Dame de la Sade Cathedral

There were almost no people in the city this early in the day, although it is possible that during the day there is not much of anything. But here is a place where there is for sure and in the morning, we accidentally discovered – it was a market. On the next street there was dead silence, and here there was life in full swing. The contrast was very noticeable.

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Toulon market

We leave the old town in the direction of the port and on the way we collect white lanterns again.

White Lantern in Toulon

Toulon White Lanterns

That this is a semi-military town I wrote and here is the entrance to the naval base. Behind this gate, a civilian can still pass through, but a little farther through is closed.

Military base, Toulon

Next to the gate, the National Maritime Museum of Toulon, but it is only an old part of the building, as there is a new one. It seems that the exposition inside is very large.

Toulon Maritime Museum - Old Building

Toulon Maritime Museum - New Building

Port de Toulon

The rest of the story will take place near the water. We’ll start with the port and end with the cozy wild beaches. Since there will now be a port, no tourist will miss the monument of a man with an anchor rolling away somewhere in the direction of the sea.

Monument in the Port of Toulon

It seems that there hasn’t been a single monument, building or monument in this town without a maritime theme. I will continue this theme with a few pictures of boats.

Port of Toulon

Sailboats in the Port of Toulon

Almost all the stories about Toulon that I have read on the net mentioned the ferry to Sardinia. It feels like it doesn’t leave this place at all.

Ferries from Toulon to Sardinia

Finished with the port we go in the direction of the Royal Tower. This is where all the beaches of Toulon begin. On the way we came to a small observation deck where you can see the coastal panorama of Toulon and where you can see the Mistral in the distance.

Toulon coastline

Toulon panorama

Toulon Beaches

To the Royal Tower from the port is about 2.5 km, so it’s better to estimate your strength and time on the way back. The entrance to the tower was already open, cost 2€.

Royal tower, Toulon

Near the tower begins the beaches and as I said, the way to them takes a lot of energy. In the first photo is a beach for the most tired, and the second photo is the same beach, but already more nice. There is a concrete slab between these two beaches, which apparently not everyone can handle.

Children's beach in Toulon

Toulon beach at the Royal Tower

An interesting observation is that there were much more topless sunbathers in Toulon than on the other beaches of the Cote d’Azur. If in other cities, it was necessary to look out, but here it is not even necessary to look. This, by the way, made it very difficult to film. I did not know what would be the reaction and tried to take a picture so as not to embarrass and not to provoke. That is, the photo will be almost no boobs.

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The beaches in Toulon are shallow and look very cozy. To get to some of them, you have to walk along the rocky shore and overcome more than one ladder. Below is another nice beach and stairs.

Steps on Toulon's beaches

Wild beach in Toulon

And again, stairs without railings and with narrow paths. We were lucky and the sea was calm, but when the waves here to walk is dangerous, because everything will be slippery.

Stone stairs on the beach

Caught the moment when the guy is staring at the slender girl without a swimsuit. It’s hard to resist contemplation of the beautiful. A view of the same beach from another staircase is shown in the very first photo.

The city of Toulon - Plage de la Mitre

The next beach was a nudist. Though it is fenced off, but perfectly visible from the stairs. I took a few pictures, but I will not risk to put them here, and there is nothing to see. Once again I was convinced that mostly old men go to the nudist beaches.

I will show you only the photo from where this view opens – it is a tourist shield. Somehow strangely put it in a place where people specifically stop and involuntarily see a nudist beach.

Lookout in Toulon

A photo of the beach I liked best, with only forgotten slates sunbathing.

Empty wild beach in Toulon

Fort St. Louis.

The wild beaches end at the fort, after which civilization begins.

Fort St. Louis - Toulon sights

Plage de Mourillon

This is the largest beach in the city. There is full infrastructure – toilets, cafes, lifeguards and even a small fruit market. If you plan to sunbathe in a crowd, but with comfort, you have to go there.

Plage de Mourillon

With this story I close the series of articles about the trip to the south coast of France.

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Toulon

Toulon (France) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main attractions of Toulon with descriptions, guides and maps.

Toulon (France).

Toulon is a city in the south of France in the Provence region, located on the Côte d’Azur between Marseille and Nice. It is the main naval base of France and combines the resort atmosphere and rhythm of a major port. Otherwise, Toulon is a typical Mediterranean city, with a picturesque harbor filled with pretty fishing boats and beautiful yachts, a bustling waterfront with restaurants and great beaches.

Things to do (France):

The Louvre in the morning or evening. Tickets guaranteed!

51 €46 per person

The Louvre in the morning or evening. Tickets guaranteed!

Two hours in the company of great masterpieces and without the tourist crowds on a tour in a mini group

€285 per tour

One Day in Paris” sightseeing tour

Grand tour of the city for a full day – all the best things to see in the city.

Geography and climate

Toulon is located on the west of the French Riviera and southeast of Provence. The city is located at the foot of Mount Faron and has a warm Mediterranean climate.

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Panorama of Toulon and the military base

Toulon panorama and a military base

Tourist information

  1. Population – 171 thousand people.
  2. Area – 42,84 km2 .
  3. Language: French.
  4. Currency – euros.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – Central European UTC +1.
  7. Toulon is known for its traditional markets. The largest is on Cours Lafayette from 7.30 am to 12 noon (except Mondays). A good farmer’s market can be found on Rue Paul Lendrin, and there is the Mourillon Market in the old fishing village, where you can buy fish and seafood.
  8. Toulon is famous for its gastronomy: bouillabaisse, fish stew and other popular Provencal dishes. Also recommended are chichi frégi (a sort of doughnut) and cade toulonnaise (chickpea flour flatbread).

Toulon Beaches

Plages du Mourillon

Plages du Mourillon

Relatively close to the center of Toulon you can find some nice sandy beaches. To the east of the port is the beach du Mourillon, which is actually four adjacent sandy beaches, each with a Blue Flag. The beaches are horseshoe-shaped bays screened by long breakwaters that make the sea shallow and quiet here. The total area of these beaches is 25 hectares.

Also, if you have the opportunity, we recommend visiting the beaches in the following towns: St Cyr sur Mer, La Londe-les-Maures, Seyne sur Mer. They are located in a radius of 30 km from Toulon.

History

The history of Toulon is about three thousand years. In prehistoric times its surroundings were inhabited by Ligurs. Although the first settlement was founded by the Phoenicians. Toulon was the seat of the bishopric during the Frank period. The city was destroyed by the Saracens in the late 9th century and rebuilt by the rulers of Arles. The Saracens destroyed the city three more times between 1178 and 1211. Toulon became part of Provence in the 11th century.

The harbor

The harbour

There was a Jewish pogrom in the mid 14th century, triggered by the outbreak of the plague. In the 16th century, with the construction of a major port, the city began a period of prosperity. In the 17th century, Toulon became one of the largest military and commercial ports of the Mediterranean, which is the mainstay of the military power of France. Now it is the main naval base of the country.

How to get there

Toulon-Yerre International Airport is about 18 km from the city. Toulon has regular train connections to Marseille and Nice. Also ferries from Corsica and Rome go here (and vice versa).

Attractions

Old Town

Old Town

The old town, or Vieille Ville, in Toulon was severely damaged during World War II, but has retained much of its former medieval charm. It is a tangle of old narrow streets and cozy squares decorated with fountains.

Not far from the waterfront is the old fishing village of Le Mourillon. Le Mourillon is a charming area with colourful fishing huts, great beaches and an interesting attraction: the Tour Royal (a 16th-century fortified tower from the time of Louis XII).

The harbor

Harbour

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The harbor is one of Toulon’s busiest and most interesting places, where luxury yachts and fishermen’s boats are moored. Along the harbor is a promenade. It is also home to the historic Port de l’Arsenal, which dates back to 1738. The harbour has been used by the French navy since the 15th century.

The harbor is home to a huge marble statue from 1847, highlighting Toulon’s maritime heritage. It depicts a man with an anchor at his feet, one arm outstretched toward the sea.

Cableway to Mount Faron

The cable car to Mount Faron

Mount Faron is an interesting natural landmark. It is 584 meters high and blocks the northwestern Mistral. In the past, the mountain was an ideal observation point, fortified by nine towers. There is now a cableway to its summit. The view from Mount Faron over the city and the bay is beautiful.

Place de la Libération

Freedom Square

The Liberty Square is Toulon’s main square. The neoclassical Grand Hotel, built in 1870, is on its north side. But the most impressive attraction here is the 19th century marble fountain.

Porte d

The Porte d’Italie is an old city gate known since the Middle Ages. It’s part of a group of fortifications designed in the 17th century by the famous military engineer Vauban. At the end of the 18th century Napoleon himself rode through this gate, marking the start of his Italian campaign. The gate has carried its modern name ever since.

Opera

Opera

The Opera is a magnificent neoclassical building, built in the second half of the 19th century, which is one of the largest opera houses in France outside Paris. The Opera has a sumptuous red-gilt interior, illustrating the Napoleon III style and including many paintings, beautiful chandeliers and other decorations.

Cathedral

Cathedral

The cathedral is a simple Romanesque church with a predominantly Gothic interior, built in the 11th century. In the 17th century, this ancient sacred monument received a neoclassical facade with Baroque details.

St. Francis Church

Church of St. Francis

The Church of Saint Francis is a Piedmont Baroque building with a small nave, built in 1744. The church has a beautiful altar of multicolored marble.

Art Museums

Art Museums

The Art Museum of Toulon includes a collection of paintings from the 15th century to the present day. It introduces the art of Provence.

Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum is located near the seafront and is a great way to learn about Toulon’s maritime history. It contains a collection of diagrams, paintings and drawings, as well as an exhibition on the development of artillery and several ancient ship models.

Interesting tours

Grand Tour of Montmartre

From €105 for a guided tour

Grand tour of Montmartre

The Moulin Rouge, Dalida House, Villa Léandre, Chateau des Mistes and other iconic spots of the Bohemian quarter

Fairytale Louvre for children from 6 years old

from €130 for a guided tour

The Louvre for children ages 6 and up

An educational but not boring adventure which will be memorable for young travelers

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