Top 10 Things to Do in Toulon
A city located in Southern France with Cannes to its east and Marseille to its west, Toulon is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural harbours in France.
Due to its location, it is filled with small boats and yachts. Toulon is considered the major centre of France’s Mediterranean coast and has been so for the past 500 years. As a result of this, you can be sure that it has many places to visit and activities to choose from with majority of the sites bearing a marine/ nautical theme. Tour the aircraft carrier, the warships in the port and submerge yourself in military history at the naval museum and not forgetting the cable car to the summit of Mont Faron.
Toulon may not be as popular as most cities in France, however, its unique attractions set it apart as an undeniably fun place to visit. To help you get around and arrange your tour itinerary, here are the top 10 things to do in Toulon.
1. Rade de Toulon
One of the most famous sites in Toulon is the military harbour, used by the French navy along with the Brest, since the 15th century, the main base for the French fleet. Pick a port ferry and embark on this unforgettable guided tour through the piers of the Baie du Lazare and the historic naval cemetery.
You also have a more inexpensive option of taking the city ferry from the Gare Maritime to La Seyne and seeing most of the sights without commentary.
Get thrilled by the enormous ships and the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. You’ll also see the fortifications made by the military mastermind Vauban in the 17th century, still in use by the French military today.
2. Visit the Mourillon Beaches
Are you looking for fun on the beach? Toulon has it. There are 4 sandy beaches just a short distance away from the city centre. Enjoy attractive scenery dotted with palm trees and a Mediterranean vegetation backdrop, a selection of beach-side restaurants with breathtaking views. See across the beautiful hills, large free play area and paid activities it is perfect for family fun.
3. Explore the Mont Faron cableway
Experience a cable car ride up the hillside of Mount Faron for a breathtaking view of Toulon and the Mediterranean Sea. The cableway is one of Toulon’s main attractions, integrated in 1959; the iconic red car transports tens of thousands of visitors to 584 meters of altitude each year. Once at the top, you can choose from a selection of hiking trails for a leisurely stroll.
4. Tour the Mediterranean Center of Art (Hotel des Arts)
If your focus is on free-to-enter tourism sites then you will love the Hotel des Arts. A striking heritage building, the Hotel des Arts is the Mediterranean Center of Art not too far from the train station. This easily accessible centre of art is tranquil and promises intriguing features in its ever-changing exhibition.
5. Visit the Landing Memorial Museum (Musée Mémorial du Débarquement)
Explore the World War II fortress perched high above Toulon on Mont Faron. The Memorial Museum of the Landing in Provence can be found in Toulon and was inaugurated in 1964 by General de Gaulle during his presidency. The museum presents the story of the liberation of southeast France in August 1944. On display are audiovisual presentations, archival videos, models and a collection of objects of the landing in Provence.
6. Listen in at the Toulon Opera (Opéra de Toulon)
If you have a love for opera or ancient architecture then you will love the Opéra de Toulon. The Grand Théâtre de Toulon was inaugurated on October 1, 1862. It advantageously replaced the old Salle de la Comédie, not yet a century old (1770) but very dilapidated, cramped and uncomfortable according to Toulon society.
There is a full schedule of performances, so make sure to book well in advance in the summer months if you’re hoping to see a concert.
France’s second-largest opera house is built in the style of Second Empire architecture (a mix of Baroque and evolved 7th-century Renaissance) and occupies a privileged spot in the historic city overlooking an appealing Mediterranean square.
7. Tour Cours Lafayette Market
Food markets are naturally one of the emblems of Provence and the Cours Lafayette Market, one of the city’s main landmarks, is unquestionably one of the most famous of them all. Here you can enjoy banter with locals selling French seasonal fruit, vegetables, flowers and textiles. Food in France is known to be seasonal and if you take note of the produce on offer overtime at this market you will notice the signs of months changing. Case in point, in the summer, you’ll notice masses of nectarines and peaches, whereas when the weather cools, you’ll see baskets of leeks and cabbages. Try them all and enjoy a gastronomical tour here.
8. Make A Trip To The Tour Royale
The Tour Royale, also known as La Grosse Tour, is a fort built in the 16th century to protect the entrance of the Petit Rade, the naval port of Toulon. It was the first defence of the harbour, built 22 years after Provence became a part of France. The fort was custom-built in 1513 by King Louis XII at the request of the bishop of Toulon and of the Senechal of Provence. It was positioned on the cap de la Manegue, at the end of the pointe de la Mitre, where it could fire at any ships coming into the Rade.
It was a classical example of a Torrioni, a round tower with cannon, constructed around Renaissance Italy in the 16th century. The tower was sixty meters in diameter and seven meters thick. Construction began in 1514 and was finished in 1524, during the reign of Francis I of France, at a cost of 30,000 florins. Because of its impressive size, the residents of Toulon called IT “La Grosse Tour”.
9. Catch a Game at the Stade Mayol
The Stade Mayol is a multi-purpose stadium in Toulon, France. It is currently used mostly for rugby union matches and is the home stadium of RC Toulonnais. The stadium is able to hold 18,200 people. It is one of the few French stadiums to be embedded in the city and surrounded by high buildings. It was built at the foot of the Mont Faron, the hill on which Toulon is partly built, and overlooks the Toulon military harbour (La Rade) on the Mediterranean.
10. Visit the National Museum of the Marine, Toulon
The city of Toulon has a number of museums. One of which is the National Museum also referred to as the Museum of the French Navy. Founded in 1814 during the ruling of Emperor Napoleon, the building’s location is conveniently next to the clock tower, which survived Allied bombardments during World War II. Learn about the history of the French Navy as you see the role of the port in its prime.
This city has a number of museums. One of these is this national museum, which is also known as The Museum of the French Navy. This museum was founded in 1814 during the ruling of Emperor Napoleon. The building’s location is conveniently next to the clock tower, which survived Allied bombardments during World War II. The museum exhibits the history of Toulon specifically its role as the port of the French Navy. Be amazed as you see models of the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle and an 18th-century ship that teaches seamanship.
Toulon is the best place to go if you want to skip the hustle and bustle of the other cities. Now you know the top 10 things to do in Toulon, Enjoy your visit to Toulon, France.