Dating back as far as Roman times, Toulon has always been much envied as a military port. Under Napoleon it thrived as such and later benefited from a make-over by the architect of modern Paris, Baron Haussmann. Sadly much of the town was destroyed by the Germans in 1942, but Toulon still charms with its provençale air, its atmospheric medieval quarter and its lively port.


First off, explore the narrow streets and tiny squares which criss-cross the Rue d'Alger and the Cours Lafayette, in the heart of the vieille ville. The medieval streets house pokey shops and quaint restos while every morning the Cours Lafayette plays host to a local market. The Sainte-Marie-de-la-Seds Cathedral was originally built in the 11th century and is worth a visit, as is the Musée de la Photographie which often has good exhibitions.

To the North of the basse ville, or old town, is the haute ville, grand, elegant and bourgeois. Buildings here are in the late XIXth century style, notably the Théatre, reputed for its operas, and the Hotel des Arts, a particularly beautiful building showcasing late 20th century art. The Musée des Beaux-Arts focuses more on local artists.

Down on the waterfront, the port and its promenade has plenty of character. Visit Pierre Puget's huge XVIIth century sculptures, Les Atlantes, go for a stroll at sunset and marvel at the local types.

Behind the town lies the Mont Faron hill. A cable car goes to the top with beautiful views over Toulon and surrounding region. From hear there's easy access to the town's zoo and to the Mémorial du Débarquement en Provence, commemorating the Allies' liberation of South-East France.

In July Toulon plays host to an interesting Jazz Festival with free concerts in the street.


Toulon is a good place to buy produce from the Provence region with local markets popping up all over town. Souvenirs can be bought around the port while a number of chic boutiques have set up shop in the haute ville.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Food is good in Toulon and not particularly expensive. Head up to the haute ville and try some of the provençale style restaurants near the Théatre. Otherwise, North African dishes are on offer in the old town and excellent fresh fish can be eaten in the restaurants that line the waterfront.

Place de la Liberté in the haute ville and Place Pierre Puget in the basse ville are both popular for lazy evening drinks, while the small streets round the Place d'Armes are a bit more racy. Look out for concerts throughout the year as Toulon tends to be pretty quiet after dark.

Tourist Information

www.toulon.comwww.toulontourisme.comTel: +33 (0)494 185 300


Toulon's airport sits twenty minutes out of town by car. Extremely convenient, regular flights leave to Standsted, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. A local bus runs to the airport.

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