Top 5 sights for first-timers
For magnificent views over Toulon and 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
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 and France’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 of France’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
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
Ile de Porquerolles
About 25 kilometres off the coast of Toulon is the lovely little island of Porquerolles, the largest of the three ‘Iles d’Or’. Boat trips run most days between May and September with ample time for coastal walks, a picnic and swimming in the turquoise waters.
Maison de la Photographie
In the heart of the Old Town, this bright space showcases works by contemporary regional photographers and has a collection of images by those who inspired them, including Willy Ronis, Robert Doisneau andMan Ray.
Place du Globe, Rue Nicolas Laugier
Musée Naval Municipal du Fort Balaguier
On the western side of Toulon in La Seyne sur Mer, once renowned for having the best shipyards in Europe, is Fort Balaguier. Built in 1634 to guard the entrance to the bay, it now houses a museum focused on local maritime history and Toulon’s old prison.
924 corniche Bonaparte, La-Seyne-sur-Mer
Rugby Club Toulonnais
Toulon is home to one of France’s top rugby clubs, which takes part in the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup and whose current squad includes Jonny Wilkinson and the Armitage brothers. Catch a match during your stay – they take place from August to May.
Stade Félix Mayol
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