Toulon Tourist Activities
Toulon Airport is one of the important airports which are found in the Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur region of France, and is located just 23km from the city of Toulon, in the Var department. The airport is otherwise known as the Toulon-Hyères Airport, or as the Hyères Le Palyvestre Airport, and has the official code of TLN. Many tourists use the airport as a gateway to this magnificent region of the country, which is filled with a variety of appealing attractions. There are some spectacular beaches, as well as historic sights and museums which prove to be extremely popular with visitors. Toulon attractions are plentiful as well, and a significant number of tourists spend time in this fabulous city.
Similar to many other French cities, Toulon has an old town area. It is the historic centre of the city, and is wonderful to explore on foot, as it consists of a number of pedestrian-only streets. There are a couple of small squares, and within the Old Town, visitors will find many of the fountains for which the city is well known. Each fountain has its own unique character, and most were built during the later 17th century. However, some required re-building in the eighteenth or nineteenth century. They have also recently been restored to their former glory. At Place Paul Comte there is the Fontaine du Dauphin, found on the wall of the Bishop’s residence. This fountain is also featured in the drawings of Toulon which were made for Louis XIV in 1668. At Place Puget, there is the Fontaine des Trois Dauphins from 1782, and at Place Amiral Sénès there is the Fontaine de l’Intendance from 1821. The Fontaine-Lavoir was built in 1832, to replace the original fountain of 1615, and features a couple of basins. One basin for drinking water, one for washing clothes and another for rinsing clothes. This fountain is found at Place Saint-Vincent.
In the Old Town district of Toulon is also the Toulon Cathedral, which is often considered as an impressive building, and the area is the home of the celebrated Provencal market, that takes place every morning on the Cours Lafayette. The market features a variety of local products.
Nearby the Old Town is Toulon’s harbour and arsenal. It is a Toulon attraction, as it is known to be one of the best natural anchorages on the Mediterranean Sea, and also one of the largest harbours in Europe. The area started its development in 1599, when a shipyard and naval arsenal was built, and later, between the years of 1604 and 1610, the Veille Darse was built, which was a small, sheltered harbour. This protected area provided ships with a place away from the wind and sea. In later years expansions to the harbour were made by Cardinal Richelieu, Jean-Baptiste Colbert and Vauban.
Toulon attractions include a small seaside neighbourhood known as Le Mourillon, Mount Faron and the fortifications of the city which were constructed by Vauban. Le Mourillon is found to the east of the city, and is nearby to the entrance of the harbour. In former times, it was a small fishing village, but later it grew to be the home of officers of the French fleet. The Fort Saint Louis is found at Le Mourillon, next to the neighbourhood’s small fishing port. It is a castle that dates back to the sixteenth century, and was built by Vauban. It was constructed to mainly protect the harbour from enemy intrusion, but was also built to expand the Toulon arsenal. Formerly, it was known as the Fort Thumbnail, due to the height of the cannon tower. However, the thumbnail was partially destroyed during the siege of Toulon in 1707, and it’s more modern name came into existence after it’s identical reconstruction. Some of the most popular beaches are found at Le Mourillon as well, and the Museum of Asian Art is found in a house on the waterfront nearby the fort. Vauban also created many of the fortifications which can still be seen in the city today. Some were destroyed to allow the city to expand, but the Port d’Italie, one of the old city gates, can still be visited. The city of Toulon features Mount Faron, which stands approximately 580 metres tall. At the top is a memorial dedicated to the Allied Landings in Provence which took place in 1944 (Operation Dragoon), and to the liberation of Toulon. Tourists can reach the top of Mount Faron by cable car, or there is a narrow road ascending from the west side and descending on the east side. The road is rather treacherous, and it may be wise to leave your rented car at the hotel for this attraction, and take the cable car. However, it forms part of the annual Paris-Nice and Tour Mediterranean bicycle races.
At Le Mourillon is also the Jardin d’acclimatation du Mourillon, a municipal botanical garden. It was founded in 1887, and was opened to the public in 1889. Although the garden suffered much damage during the war of 1944, it has been completed restored to a magnificent area once again. The garden features trees that were planted in the early 1900’s, and a good variety of other types of vegetation. The botanical garden can be found at 1053 Littoral Frédéric Mistral.
Toulon attractions include a number of interesting museums. In Place Monsenergue is the Museum of the French Navy, founded in 1814. It is also located behind the former monumental gate to the Arsenal of Toulon, that was built in 1738. The actual building of the museum is one of few nearby the port which survived the bomb raids in the Second World War. The museum depicts the history of Toulon as a port of the French Navy, and some of its main features are ship models from the eighteenth century. Additional museums of interest include the Museum of Old Toulon and its Region, with articles in relation to the history of the city, the Museum of Asian Arts, the Museum of Art, the Memorial Museum to the Landings in Provence and the Museum of Natural History of Toulon and the Var. This natural history museum has numerous displays about the dinosaurs, birds, mammals and minerals of the region, or which were once believed to be found nearby.
Many more Toulon attractions await, especially in terms of the wonderful sandy beaches nearby. Further details are available from the tourist information office at the airport.