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Toulon Guide. Leisure Guides.


Best known for its historic naval port and successful rugby team, Toulon is also a magnet for culture vultures thanks to a clutch of unique museums and the largest opera house in France after Paris. 

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Getting around

Although Toulon is the fourth largest city on France’s Mediterranean coast, it’s compact and very easy to get around on foot. Buses operate from around 5.30am to 9pm; on Fridays and Saturdays, Les Nocturnes service runs from 9pm to 12.30am. Taxis are available at the station and the port.
Toulon is on a main TGV line so it’s well connected to France’s other major towns and cities, and from the next-door bus station it’s easy to get to other places in the Var department including Saint Tropez, which is a two-hour journey. About 20 kilometres east of Toulon is the town of Hyères which is noted for its quaint Old Town and gorgeous gardens, and a fun way to get there is by bike along the cycle path; the tourist office will have information about the route and bike-hire shops. Shuttle boats are a popular way to explore the coast.
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Getting here

Getting here could not be any easier. We offer many frequent flights from London City Airport and plenty hotel packages. To book flights and hotels please click here.

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Unlike its neighbours on the French Riviera, Toulon has a dearth of luxury accommodation. Top of the range is the four-star Holiday Inn Garden Court (1 avenue Rageot de la Touche), which has a swimming pool in its favour. One of the nicest hotels in the city centre is Grand Hôtel de la Gare (14 boulevard Tesse), conveniently situated opposite the train station, which has bright rooms decorated in contemporary Provençal style. Celenya Hôtel (7 bis rue de Chabannes) near Place de la Liberté, a magnificent tree-lined plaza with a fountain, has 29 colourful rooms – some with four posters – each of whose style is inspired by one of the five continents.
Near the airport, the Giens Peninsula and the attractive town of Hyères have a wide variety of accommodation, from campsites to beachside boutique hotels, including the modern Mercure Hyères Centre (19 avenue Ambroise Thomas) in the town centre.
To book a hotel click here
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The nightlife in Toulon doesn’t quite match up to the other cities on the French Riviera – the only decent club is Club 44 (44 boulevard de Strasbourg), which has a young clientele and dance music on the turntables. There are a few gay-friendly options too, including Boy’s Paradise (1 boulevard Pierre Toesca) and Pussy Cat (655 avenue Claret). 
For live music, try La Part des Anges (57 rue Lamalgue, Mourillon), jazz club Studio 11 (6 boulevard Commandant Nicolas), or La Bouche et L’Oreille (Avenue de l’Infanterie Marine), with its eclectic programme every Friday and Saturday. Hip Havana Café (35 rue Muiron, Mourillon) has DJs at the weekend. 
Highbrow types should check out the city’s impressive 19th-century opera house (Boulevard de Strasbourg), which is the second largest opera house in France. Arty cinema Le Royal (2 rue du Docteur Jean Bertholet) shows films in their original version.
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There are no Michelin stars in Toulon, but for fine dining on a Provençal theme, head to Le Pointilliste (43 rue Picot), situated in a contemporary dining room in the New Town, Le Gros Ventre (279 littoral Frédéric Mistral), next to the sea in Mourillon, or Les Pins Penchés (3182 avenue de la Résistance), housed in an elegant villa with a glass conservatory and garden.
Local favourites include La Promesse (250 rue Jean Jaurès), where the young female chef gives an international twist to regional produce, and fashionable wine bar Carré 2 Vigne (14 rue de Pomet), whose Italian leanings are no doubt influenced by its proximity to the Opéra. On a large port-side terrace, Le Grand Café de la Rade (224 avenue de la République) serves traditional brasserie favourites all day long, while Gaudefroy (157 boulevard Maréchal Leclerc) is the place to go for afternoon tea and yummy cakes. 
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No trip to Provence would be complete without visiting a food market, and Toulon’s, which takes place each morning from Tuesday to Sunday on Cours Lafayette, is reputedly the largest in the region; each afternoon, the produce is replaced by crafts and flowers. Like most French cities, Toulon has a branch of the department store Galeries Lafayette (9 boulevard de Strasbourg) as well as a workaday shopping mall, Centre Mayol (Rue du Mûrier), housing high-street brands.
To buy some of the coveted Var wines, head to Les Quilles (6 place d’Armes), while Yves Thuriès (6 place Puget) makes the best chocolates in town. Colourful Provençal fabrics can be found at Les Toiles de Provence (2 place Hubac), while La Boutique de Provence (42 rue Paul Landrin) has a vast selection of Marseille soaps. Small and big kids will love the traditional toys and games from Les Fééries d’Emilie (72 bis cours Lafayette).
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Top 10 sights


Top 5 sights for first-timers

Mont Faron

For magnificent views overToulonand coast, take the cable car up to Mont Faron. At the top is a zoo specialising in the conservation of big cats and a museum dedicated to the Allied landings in 1944. It’s also good walking country.

Boulevard Amiral Vence

The bay

As well as from Mont Faron,Toulon’s beautiful bay is best viewed from the sea. From May to October, hour-long boat trips pass the naval base (home to submarines andFrance’s immense aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle) and 17th-century military fortifications.

Port de Toulon

Musée National de la Marine

Housed in the former arsenal and accessed via a monumental doorway, this museum is one ofFrance’s five national museums dedicated to naval history. Apart from models of boats, there is an area dedicated to Vauban, the country’s celebrated 17th-century military engineer.

Place Monsenergue, Quai de Norfolk

Musée d’Art

The reason to visit the Musée d’Art is to see the collection of 19th-century Provençal art, which includes paintings by landscape specialists, Fauves and symbolists. Works range from the 15th to the 20th century and also encompass photography by the likes of Cartier-Bresson.

113 boulevard Général Leclerc

Museum d’Histoire Naturelle de Toulon et du Var

As well as permanent exhibitions on the geology, archaeology, botany and zoology of the area, the museum holds temporary exhibitions on the biodiversity and ecosystems of the Var and beyond. Its palm-filled 19th-century garden is also worth a wander.

737 chemin du Jonquet

Top 5 sights for old hands


About seven kilometres north of the airport, Hyères was the first resort on the French Riviera. TheOldTownhas a lovely square watched over by a Templar tower, and two gorgeous gardens, at Castel Sainte-Claire and 1920s modernist Villa Noailles, are atop the hill.


Musée des Arts Asiatiques

In Mourillon, a belle époque villa is home to an interesting collection of items from theFar East. The main theme is how Buddha influenced art, including temple sculptures fromTibetand ritual vases fromChina.

Villa Jules Verne, 169 littoral Frédéric Mistral

Port Cros

About 15 kilometres off the coast, this small island wasEurope’s first marine national park. As well as admiring the migratory birds, lush vegetation and 17th-century forts, snap on a snorkel and follow the underwater nature trail. A great place to get away from it all.

Port d’Hyères

A tour of the naval base

Toulon’s little white tourist train takes visitors on a 45-minute tour of the naval base andOldTownfrom mid-April to mid-May and from June to mid-September. Expect to see warships, submarines and, if you’re lucky,France’s aircraft carrier. ID required aged 15 and above.

Port de Toulon

Jardin d’Acclimatation

Opposite the beaches of Mourillon, this 19th-century garden is a lovely place for an evening stroll underneath the palm trees. Its south-facing aspect ensures the growth of many exotic trees and plants, and there’s a kids’ playground and a tennis court too.

Littoral Frédéric Mistral

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Top 5 activities

The Giens Peninsula, which juts out into the sea about 30 kilometres east of Toulon, is one of the world’s best spots for windsurfing. The place to go is the Plage de l’Almanarre where there are schools for all levels.
On the outskirts of Toulon is the district of Mourillon, which is noted for its sheltered, sandy, public and private Blue Flag beaches. The area is great for families as there are plenty of facilities, and it’s wheelchair-accessible too.
Around the coast of France stretches the 18th-century ‘sentier des douaniers’ (naval officers’ path), and the nicest section in Toulon is between Port Saint-Louis and the Anse Magaud. The four-hour round trip passes little creeks and military fortifications.
Holiday time offers the perfect excuse to indulge in some relaxing spa treatments. There are a couple of thalassotherapy centres over in Hyères, a luxury hotel spa inland in Le Castellet, and day spas dotted around the city.
Given its maritime history, a stay in Toulon is the ideal time to learn to sail or at least hire a boat and skipper to show you around one of the world’s most stunning bays. 
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Top 5 events

Bacchus – La Fête des Vins et de la Gastronomie
A wonderful opportunity to sample some of France’s best wines and produce over a weekend. Toulon comes alive with parades, music and cookery demonstrations.
Date: April
Venue: Place d’Armes
Fête de la Saint Pierre
This annual festival celebrates Saint Peter, the patron saint of fishermen. After a procession featuring musicians playing traditional instruments, there’s a mass followed by much slurping of fish soup.
Date: June
Venue: Cathedral and port 
Festival Estival de Musique de Toulon
Created in 1951, this festival of classical music takes place in some of the area’s most atmospheric locations. Expect everything from opera to tango and polyphonic singing.
Date: June to July
Venue: Various venues in Toulon and Six-Fours
Jazz à Toulon
Three weeks of free open-air jazz concerts – with a dash of other genres – by French and international artists. The early-evening apéro-concerts are a great way to kick off a night out. 
Date: July to August
Venue: Around the city centre
Festival International du Film Maritime d’Exploration et d’Environnement
In keeping with its maritime history, Toulon hosts an annual festival dedicated to documentary films with a nautical theme, from underwater exploration to naval combat.
Date: October
Venue: Palais des Congrès Neptune

Written by World Travel Guide

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