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More About Toulon
Toulon is a medium size city (15th town of France) between Marseille and Nice. It is located in the west of French Riviera and in the southeast of Provence.
Toulon is a large port and offers several international routes including Ajaccio, Bastia and Ile Rousse (Corsica). It is always best to book early to avoid over booked ferrys. There is also a seasonal ferry to Rome (Civitavecchia).
Unlike other towns of France, Toulon is not crossed by any big river, and there is no big river in the whole district (French: département du Var). Some small rivers cross the town : Rivière neuve (English: new river), Le Las, L'Égoutyer also known as Rivière des amoureux (English: lover's river) with no apparent reason. Except de latter, the rivers are now in underground tubes and not visible.
Toulon is the western gateway of the Côte d’Azur, with excellent train connections as well as ferry services, a brand new bus station, and an international airport at neighbouring Hyères.
The economy relies on the presence of a big French naval base that creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Tourism is also important.
Activities and Sightseeing
This part of the town was built in the Middle ages. It is called vieille ville (English: old town) because of its age or basse ville (English: low town) because it is the lowest point of the town except the sea). The historical center is located just just at north of the port. You'll see very small intricate streets.
Specially recommended wide streets are the Algiers and Lafayette streets (French: Rue d'Alger and Cours Lafayette). These two are bordered by numerous shops and crowded every Saturday. Other small streets feature only old-looking buildings.
- Visit the port and its promenade. The folk of old Provence, the typical accent of locals, and some wooden boats on the still sea (the folk is better in smaller town along the coast, however). Numerous souvenir shops, coffee shops and fish restaurants. Also on the port square, you'll see the statue of the Spirit of navigation pointing at the sea.
- Tour de l'horloge, a monumental clock a the entry of the naval base (at the west of the port), anciently used to ring at the beginning and at the end of the working day.
- Just between the port and the south of Cours Lafeyette, you'll see the Louis Blanc place with Saint François de Paule church. Built in the XVIIIth Century, it is of typical baroque style.
- Traditional markets of Provence, every morning on Cours Lafayette except on Mondays. You'll find there all local products of the region. There are also other smaller markets.
- Place Puget, in the historical center, is the ancient center of the town. You'll find a fountain built in 1780. The sculpture showed three dolphins, now completely covered by ivy. You'll enjoy staying in the shade of this place, at a coffee shop, during a hot afternoon.
- The Saint Marie de la Seds Cathedral is near Place Puget. Built in the XIth century, it has never been finished, but widened in 1738. There are numerous paintings of XVIIIth Century.
The New Town
Also called Haute ville (English: high town) by contrast with basse ville, because it was built in a higher part of the town. It is located at the north of the historical center, in the XIXth Century, by the baron Hoffman (who was later called to build Paris). Numerous buildings and places are in the late XIXth Century style.
- Place de la liberté (English: Liberty plaza). The This is one of the main places of the town. There's a nice statue in a fountain. In winter, a skating rink is settled for children. However this place may be noisy due to the main boulevard of the town just along the place.
- The Opera House, place Victor Hugo, +33 4 94 93 03 76, is 100 m east of the Place de la Liberté.
- The railway station is 100 m northwest of the Place de la Liberté, also of XIXth Century style.
Museums and Places of Interest
The town features several beaches just south of the Mourillon quarter. They were set up in the 1950's to develop tourism. More beautiful beaches may be found elsewhere on the coast. In any location, you should be prepared to crowd on the beach. The beaches of Toulon are associated to a park with entertainment for children of all ages. At the east of the town, the Cap Brun and Anse Magaud beaches are more isolated, far less crowded, but more difficult to reach (need to climb a little).
- Take the cable car (French: téléphérique) to go to the Mont-Faron Hill. Téléphérique du Mont-Faron, boulevard Amiral Vence (or bus 40, stop at téléphérique), +33 4 94 92 68 25. It gives direct access to the Memorial Museum of landing in Provence.
- Memorial Museum of landing in Provence (French: Musée-Mémorial du débarquement), top of Mont-Faron, +33 4 94 88 08 09.
- Mont-Faron zoo (French: Zoo du Mont-Faron), +33 4 94 88 07 89. It is a center for wild beast reproduction.
- Bibliothèque municipale et Museum d'histoire naturelle (English: Municipal Library and Museum), Boulevard de Strasbourg. As a building, the library is worth seeing. The museum features wild life collections.
- The Navy Museum (French: Musée de la Marine, place Monsergue (at the entrance of the naval base), +33 4 94 02 02 01. Collections relating the naval history of the town.
- The Museum of Tour Royale, pointe de la Mitre, +33 4 94 24 91 00. The Tour Royale, one of the numerous forts of Toulon, was built in 1514 by the king Louis XII. Later, it was used as a prison, now opened for visits. It also features a naval exposition.
- The Boat-Museum named La Dives, pointe de la Mitre (+33 4 94 02 06 96), opened May to October. Before being a museum, this boat was dedicated to the transportation of tanks for a landing.
Climate in Toulon is typical of the South of France. The summers are relatively hot. Temperatures usually get higher than 30 °C. June is a hot month but a sudden storm may occur once. July usually features hot temperatures and blue sky. August may be even hotter, but storms may begin to occur. Autumns are rainy. Storms *will* occur. Winters are dry. Temperatures won't go deeply under 0 °C, but the wind will increase the feeling of coldness.
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