Toulon Tourist Attractions

The port of Toulon lies about 70km/43mi southeast of Marseilles near the most southerly point of the French Riviera. The Bay of Toulon forms an outstanding natural harbor; it consists of the inner "Petite Rade" (little harbor roads) and the outer "Grande Rade" (large roads) and is protected by the off-shore promontory of St-Mandrier. Toulon is the most important military port in France with appropriate dock and supply facilities.

Old Town

Toulon Opera HouseToulon Opera House
The Vieille Ville (Old Town) of Toulon, which was severely damaged during the Second World War, lies by the Darse Vieille (Old Harbor), on the northest of which stands the Préfecture Maritime; every day after sunset the "Cérémonie des Couleurs" takes place here. The fronts of the row of houses along the Quai Stalingrad, which leads southeast to the Rond-Point Bonaparte, were rebuilt after the Second World War and are dominated by the tower of the new Town Hall. The caryatides by Pierre Puget (1620- 1694), originally in the Old Town Hall, which was also destroyed in the war, today adorn the entrance to the Municipal Information Center. They have been copied over and over again all over Provence, (for instance at Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence), but here remain, unsurpassed in the vividness of their effect. Just to the west from here the narrow, but very busy Rue d'Alger runs north and leads into the Rue Hoche, at the end of which is the Place Puget with the Fontaine des Trois Dauphins (1782, by Chastel), which, like many fountains in Provence, is overgrown and covered with deposits of lime.
The Bibliothèque du Vieux Toulon is situated on the Cours Lafayette. At the east end of Rue Garibaldi, which branches off here, stands the impressive Porte d'Italie, a 16th century bridge. Farther on, to the south of the cathedral, is the Place de la Poissonnerie, the fish market.
Leaving the Place Puget, the busy center of the Old Town, by Rue Muraire (also called "Raimu") we come to the noteworthy Opera House (1862-64). Northwest lies the Place de la Liberté with the Monument de la Fédération by Allard. Farther to the west, on the Boulevard Leclerc, is the Musée d'Art et d'Archéologie (Museum of Art and Archaeology; pictures from the 13th to 20th century, prehistoric and ancient finds; open: 1-7pm). In the same building is the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum; geological and palaeontological collections; open: 10am-noon, 2-6pm). Adjoining is the attractive Jardin Alexandre-I with magnolias, palms and cedars and to the south of this the large Palais de Justice (lawcourts).

Musée de la Marine

In Toulon, to the north of the Préfecture Maritime stands the Musée de la Marine (Naval Museum), which houses a collection of old models of ships, etchings and drawings and an exhibition about the development of artillery.
Address: Place Monsenergue, Quai de Norfolk, F-83000 Toulon, France

St Mary Major

Southwest of the Place Puget in the center of the Toulon Old Town stands the early Gothic cathedral of Ste- Marie-Majeure (11th/12th C.; rebuilt in the 17th C.) with an 18th C. belfry. Nearby is the colorful Marché (market; vegetables, flowers) and (on the Cours Lafayette) the Musée du Vieux Toulon with local history collections and sacred art.

Corniche Mistral

Probably the finest street in Toulon is the Corniche Mistral, which leads along the Grande Rade de Vignettes of Mourillon past the Jardin d'Acclimatation (botanical garden) to the charming residential district of Cap Brun (103m/338ft; fort, view). Below the coast road runs the Sentier des Douaniers ("Customs Officers' Path"), a winding footpath along the coast, which leads across the Batterie Basse du Cap Brun to the romantic bays of Méjean and Magaud.

Toulon Port

At the west end of the Quai Stalingrad along the Darse Neuve (New Harbor) in Toulon begin the workshops, docks and stores of the Arsenal Maritime behind the fine Porte de l'Arsenal (1738).


In Toulon, beyond the Rond-Point Bonaparte lies Mourillon, the quarter in the southeast. From the Tour Royale, an impressive fortified building of the time of Louis XII at the southern end of the roadstead, there is an exceptional panoramic view. The contents of the "Musée Naval Tour Royale", which was once housed here, have now been transferred to Paris. To the northeast stands Fort St Louis (1707), which guards a small harbor.

Mont Faron Corniche

The Corniche du Mont Faron (Corniche Marius Escartefigue), a panoramic road half-way up Mont Faron, borders the district of Ste-Anne (with the spacious Hôpital Maritime) and Super-Toulon. The last named is characterized by fine villas situated on the slope. There are magnificent views early in the morning and shortly before sunset.

Mont Faron Summit and Mémorial du Débarquement

Mont Faron (542m/1,779ft) dominates the city of Toulon in the north; from Super-Toulon a cableway 1,437m/1,572yd long (boulevard Amiral-Vence, departs every 10 minutes; closed Mondays) goes up to the Mémorial du Faron and the Tour Beaumont (493m/1,618ft). From here there is a very rewarding but narrow, steep and winding road (Route du Faron; mostly one-way traffic and certainly not suitable for large motorhomes or towed trailers) which starts in the west and climbs up past the Fort du St Antoine to the Musée Mémorial du Débarquement en Provence. This martial building contains a collection and documentation about the landing of the Allied forces from August 15, 1944 (weapons, articles of equipment; diorama; film presentation).
From the roof of the fort (orientation table, telescope) there is a superb panorama of the city and the port and mountains rising all round.
On the plateau on the summit, which is charming because of its great variety of flowers, there is also a small zoological garden. Open: 2 p.m.- sunset.
From the Mémorial the road leads eastwards past Fort Croix Faron and Fort Faron and back down to Super-Toulon.

Toulon Festivals

Festivals and events in Toulon include a Spring Festival in March, a Cartoon Festival and Veteran Car Rally in May, a Festival of the Sea in June and Santon Fair in July and November.
The Toulon festival is an eight-week event that runs from late May to mid-July. Since its inception in 1951, the festival has brought together famous performers for concerts of choral and chamber music, as well as for piano and vocal recitals. There are a dozen events planned each year in venues including the Toulon Opera House and local churches.
Address: Palais de la Bourse, Avenue Jean Moulin, F-83000 Toulon, France


Mont FaronMont Faron Soumei Baba

Cuers, France

Cuers, situated 22km/14mi to the north of Toulon in the country, is a well-known cork-processing center. On the south-eastern edge of the Barre de Cuers (696m/2,284ft) there are extensive areas of flower cultivation.
The center of Cuers is picturesque with its fine parish church (great organ of 1669), the medieval gateway and pretty little streets. Above the village stand the ruins of a former castle from which there are good views.

Ollioules, France

Ollioules, on the southern slope of the gorge of the same name (8km/5mi to the west), is well-known for its flower-growing (auctions). There is a ruined castle in the village.

Gorges d'Ollioules

Not far north of Cuers village one reaches the Gorges d'Ollioules, which has been cut by the River Reppe with strange rock formations. Above the gorge on a sheer volcanic rock lies the village of Evenos, a "village perché" with the remains of a castle, the keep of which, like the old houses, is built of blocks of basalt.

La Seyne-sur-Mer, France

La Seyne-sur-Mer, 4km/2mi to the west of Toulon on the other side of the bay, is an industrial town with several parts; it has important shipyards, mussel-beds and works for the processing of olive-wood. Of interest are the 17th C. Church of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Voyage, the former Fort Balaguier, also 17th C., and the Musée de la Seyne (local history). To the east lies the pleasant yacht and fishing harbor with a movable bridge.

Tamaris, France

Tamaris, which gets its name from the tamarisks which grow here, is a popular resort with a yachting harbor which is reached by following a beautiful coastal road around the promontory of Fort Balaguier. To the west above the resort stands Fort Napoléon, and behind it along the Rade du Lazaret is the district of Les Sablettes which lies on a sandy spit between Cap Sicié and Cap Cépet. From here there is a particularly fine view of the roadsteads of Toulon and the sea.

Signes, France

The quiet old vine- and fruit-growing village of Signes lies 30km/19mi to the north of Toulon in a hollow on the edge of the headwaters of the Gapeau. It is reached either via Ollioules (west, N8, D402 and D2) or via Solliès-Pont (east, N97, D554 and D2). Here in the Place St-Jean stands a beautiful chapel which was restored in the 17th C.; inside can be seen pictures, votive tablets and penitents' garments. The square is embellished by an 18th C. fountain. In the Church of St-Pierre, which has also restored (16th C. belfry), the beautiful wooden altar of the 14th and 17th C. is worthy of note.

Autodrome Paul-Ricard

On the western route to Signes near Toulon, at the junction of the D402 with the N8, is the motor-racing track of Paul-Ricard, which until 1990 was the venue of the Grand Prix de France (Formula One). Since 1991 the race has been held at Magny-Cours, near Nevers in Burgundy.
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