Between the Monts Toulonnais and the port, Toulon presents above all an enchanting environment, halfway between the sea and the mountains. The capital of the Var département and the third largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, Toulon has the largest military port in France, which is also the first naval base in Europe. Renowned for its relaxed lifestyle and ideal geographical location, Toulon is also an artistic, cultural and lively city.
You can discover many museums, theatres, neighbourhoods as well as festivals and markets, which bring a unique, colourful and Provençal atmosphere to the city. You will be seduced by its enchanting climate, its port and its dynamism: Toulon is a metropolis full of projects, waiting to be discovered.
Visiting Toulon means discovering its Mediterranean climate, its beaches and hidden bays, its port full of fishing boats, its funicular railway and also its smiling inhabitants.
All these aspects make it an ideal summer holiday destination to combine the museums and monuments of an artistic, cultural and lively city with surroundings rich in unspoilt nature.
Built in the Middle Ages, Toulon is made up of small streets lined with numerous shops and restaurants. This is the perfect place to enjoy local specialities in a quiet and relaxing area. Don’t miss the Clock Tower, an imposing clock for its size that dominates the entrance to the naval base. Between the port and Cours Lafayette, Place Louis-Blanc houses the Church of Saint François de Paule, built in 1744.
Founded on the site of the former grain market, Place Puget was once the city’s main square. It still remains a pleasant place to meet and where people passing through come to have a drink under its large plane trees.
This district differs from the new town, also called Haute Ville. Here you will find Haussmann-style buildings dating back to the 19th century, one of the city’s main squares, the Opera and the railway station.
Bounded by the Giens peninsula to the east and the Saint-Mandrier peninsula to the south, the bay of Toulon is the origin of the development of the city, which welcomed Greek and Roman ships in antiquity. Thanks to its exceptional natural environment, characterised by hills surrounding the city and overlooking the harbour, Toulon became the only port to combine land and sea defence. This military heritage of forts, towers and other fortresses, combined with the historical presence of the Arsenal, tells great stories of strategies, battles and Revolution.
Over the centuries, the port of Toulon has become a major military and economic asset. Today, it is beautiful to travel along it by boat, to discover the military arsenal and remarkable fortifications, such as the Royal Tower and Fort Balaguier . In fact, it is possible to embark from the port of Toulon and discover the military ships at the quayside (including the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle), the fortifications that line the harbour, the mussel beds in the Baie du Lazaret, the marine cemetery and the Saint-Mandrier peninsula during a one-hour guided tour.
Alternatively, we recommend a nice walk along the harbour. Sitting on a terrace, over a glass of wine, you can admire the bustle of boats in what is often described as the most beautiful harbour in Europe.
An authentic reminder of the Toulon Arsenal, of which it preserves the majestic monumental door dated 1738, the museum illustrates the maritime tradition in the Mediterranean through an exceptional collection of models of ships and galleys.
From models of just a few centimetres to imposing figureheads, from navigational instruments to paintings and precious works, the National Maritime Museum of Toulon is a must-see for novices and enthusiasts alike. You can browse in the space dedicated to Vauban and the very first arsenal, observe the Toulon penal colony with the reconstruction of the hospital, delve into various aspects of the Navy in World War II and the Navy today.
The proposals for families are very interesting: various workshops on the sea and navigation are organised.
Toulon Cathedral, built more than 900 years ago, is a curious example of architectural eclecticism. Its Romanesque structure blends with Gothic elements, a classical façade and a Baroque altar.
The whole is embellished by a magnificent Provençal wrought-iron bell tower.
In 2017, culture in Toulon took centre stage: a large part of the city centre was awarded the title of Cultural and Creative Quarter by the Ministry of Culture. Rue Pierre Sémard, place de l’Equerre, but also surrounding streets such as rue Jean Jaurès and Cours Lendrin became rue des Arts, places completely redesigned to bring art and culture to the city.
Galleries, boutiques and concept stores, art workshops, co-working spaces, cafés, and bars spread like wildfire and bring fresh, stimulating air to Toulon’s historic centre.
In a beautiful 19th century building, you will find the Toulon Art Museum (MAT). Completely free of charge, it houses not only collections of 19th century paintings, but also contemporary paintings. An extensive photo collection allows visitors to savour precious moments with famous photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Willy Ronis and Robert Doisneau.
Fans of exoticism will be delighted to admire a collection dedicated to Asian arts.
Located in Place Victor Hugo, it is a magnificent building in the historical centre. With more than 150 years of history, the Opera is famous for its exceptional acoustics and its reception capacity of up to 1100 people. You will be seduced by the architecture of this historical monument that boasts a cultural programme as rich as it is varied every year.
This building, designed by architect Léon Feuchère and inaugurated in 1862, is an excellent example of the Napoleon III style. Its two doors and its red and gold interior, decorated with bronzes, stucco and paintings, will leave you speechless.
Located to the east of Toulon, Le Mourillon is actually a small village surrounded by the city. The neighbourhood has retained its old-world atmosphere with its squares, church, shops and seaside restaurants. Discover its alleyways, shops and its typical and colourful market.
The district is also famous for its fine sandy beaches and the breathtaking landscape that surrounds them. You will have no less than 7 hectares of beaches distinguished by the numerous landscaped gardens that border them. Between the beach of Mourillon and its nautical base, the wilder beaches of Mitre, the charm of the coves of Méjean or Magaud, the beach of Pipady or the hidden bays that line the coast of Cap Brun, you will be spoilt for choice.
At 584 metres, the Faron is undoubtedly the best known of the mountains surrounding Toulon. To climb to the top, the best way is to use its marvellous cable car, one of the emblems of the city.
Inaugurated in July 1959, it was designed to connect the sea and the mountain. It thus functioned as public transport, allowing inhabitants to reach the city. Today, almost 100,000 visitors take the cable car every year to explore Mount Faron. In fact, several hiking trails start from the summit and take you into the midst of nature.
The Toulon Wildlife Preservation Centre is more commonly known as the Mont Faron Zoo. Inaugurated in May 1969, it was initially dedicated to training big cats with a view to creating circus shows. Many of its residents have gone on to careers on the small and big screen.
Now the centre has been converted for the preservation and breeding of endangered species. It houses, for example, wolves, hyenas, lemurs, raccoons and baboons.
The Toulon Landing Memorial was inaugurated on 15 August 1964 by General de Gaulle, in memory of the Allied landing operations in Provence in August 1944.
The museum includes a section on American troops, a room dedicated to Great Britain, some Canadian artefacts and an exhibition dedicated to French forces.
This memorial is also a perfect place to admire an exceptional panorama that stretches from the Îles d’Or to the Bec de la Ciotat and embraces some of Toulon’s most beautiful mountains.
Undoubtedly the best known in the city, the Cours Lafayette market has all the characteristics of a typical Provençal market: Mediterranean colours, smells of Provençal herbs, melodious accents, fresh and seasonal produce.
From Tuesday to Sunday, stroll through the heart of this unmissable place, mingling with the locals.
After 20 years of closure, the Halles de Toulon reopened in September 2021 in their magnificent Art Deco setting, to the delight of Toulon residents.
Transformed into gourmet halls, they welcome 25 food merchants: dairies, charcuterie producers, fishmongers, Corsican, Iberian, Italian and Mexican stalls, as well as roasters, wine merchants, confectioners, truffle makers and many other inviting stalls.
On the rooftop, a terrace café with a breathtaking view over the rooftops of the city completes the visit.
On rue Prosper Ferrero you will find an emblem of Toulon culture: the kiosks.
Browse among many antique books, limited editions, comics for young and old and even old DVDs for collectors.
The Royal Tower can be visited during the summer period from 1 July to 30 September and is a must-see if you visit Toulon during this period. This 16th century tower is undoubtedly an emblem of the city.
From the walkway overlooking the moat, it has an imposing appearance. The tower’s initial vocation was in fact to be a cannon tower: its circular shape would have allowed it to protect the port of Toulon wherever the enemy came from.
With a diameter of 60 metres, it is easy to understand the defensive purpose of this tower whose walls are 7 metres thick. A beautiful green park winds around it, offering a magnificent view of the harbour.
In all seasons, the coastal path, which follows part of the customs path, offers the possibility of discovering the wealth of fauna and flora around Toulon on foot.
Stretching from the Royal Tower to the Méjean inlet and passing by the Mourillon beaches, it offers a great opportunity to explore the coastline and discover secret bays surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation. However, some caution is still required, as this is a protected natural area.
The walk is accessible to all and offers a relaxing time amidst turquoise coves, pine trees and cliffs. The marked path is 11 km long and alternates between views of the Rade de Toulon, the Giens peninsula and beautiful wild and sandy coves, all along charming wooden footbridges.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
One of the most popular choices for sleeping in Toulon is to look for accommodation right in front of the beaches of Mourillon, one of the eastern districts of Toulon, a true Provençal village surrounded by the city: its church, its daily market, its post office and its small shops contribute to its atmosphere. It is without doubt the most pleasant area to sleep in Toulon with more than 7 hectares of white sandy beaches, 9 hectares of greenery and playgrounds.
The urbanisation of Toulon towards the east during the 20th century gave rise to a new neighbourhood: Cap Brun. This high-end and rather residential district is one of Toulon’s best-loved, with its superb villas and prestigious residences right on the water. To the south, the rocky coastline, consisting mainly of cliffs, offers a view of the entire harbour of Toulon. This is where the most sought-after luxury hotels and accommodations are located.
Located to the west of the city, the Pont du Las is a true city within a city. In Place Martin Bidouré, you will find the second largest market in Toulon, after Cours Lafayette. This square also serves as the forecourt to the parish church of Saint-Joseph, a late 19th-century church with large organs, numerous chapels adorned with statues and whose southern façade is partly covered in gilding. If you are looking for accommodation in a lively area, this is exactly the right place.
Finally, adjacent to the Pont du las, the Saint Roch district is in the immediate vicinity of the city centre. Quiet, commercial and residential, it is very close to the Jardin de la Ville, the Toulon train station and Place Martin-Bidouré. Discover the city centre’s terraces and restaurants on the shady squares, the quaint shops, and the alleyways typical of Provençal towns and cities.
Alternatively, many TGVs and TERs stop at the SNCF station in Toulon. Or the Ouibus and Flexibus companies offer trips to and from Toulon. In addition, the Varlib network is a bus network that allows you to travel throughout the Var department.
What's the weather at Toulon? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Toulon for the next few days.
Toulon is a beautiful port city in the south of France, about 1 hour from Marseille and 2 hours from Nice.