Provence-Cote-d'Azur Property Blog: Insider's guide to property in the Provence Coté d'Azur region

Toulon like Bovril

Some love it, others hate it!

Toulon has not had the best publicity machine – up until a few years ago the Wikipedia entry described it as the second major port for the French navy after Brest and that it was badly bombed by the Allies in the Second World War.  Not encouraging most would say!  Then there was the traffic – heading east to west there is the tunnel under the city for those that are just passing through, but not in the opposite direction.  People arriving from direction Marseille are faced with signs for the motorway to the left and to the right – actually both work and locals are either fans of the central route (to the left) or the port route (to the right).  Anyway, everyone would be forgiven for deciding to give Toulon a miss, but they would be missing out.

To the back of the city is Mont Faron with its cable car route to the top with magnificent views of the city and harbour below.  The winding roads hold a motor rally race for historic cars in the spring and the regional zoo is on the slopes.  To the south-east of the centre is the quarter of Mourillon with some fantastic sandy beaches as well as some seriously high quality restaurants – this area boasts the best nightlife in the area.  It also hosts the “Nuit des Pecheurs” – the local celebration of the fishing heritage. Other more hidden beaches like Magaud are little gems with tight coves and rocky promontories but often stony beaches which doesn’t suit all.

Back into the city itself there is a real mixture of culture from the 18th Haussman designed Boulevard de Strasbourg. alongside the narrow winding streets with 4-5 storey ochre, pink & yellow townhouses as you approach the port which are more reminiscent of the southern side of the Mediterranean.  This is the oldest part of the city including the Cours Lafayette where the daily market is held except Tuesdays.




Napoleon III was instrumental in the development of the modern city of Toulon.  He had built the Port d’Italie in the east as well as the first railway station.  The Opera House is situated in Place Victor Hugo where you can also see high on the walls above the cafe a Banksy-style mural of Marcel Pagnol taking coffee.

Place de la Republique and Place des Armes are both lovely squares with various cafes allowing time to sit and appreciate the view.  Another location from which to sit and take in the view is the port itself with an impressive array of vessels alongside restaurants, cafes and shops.  

To the extreme west of the port is the naval base, but they have relocated the old gatehouse and turned it into a naval museum which is worth a visit.

For those who prefer more modern pastimes, Stade Mayol is the home of RCT Toulon, the rugby club home of Jonny Wilkinson & Stefan Armitage amongst other expats.  It also incorporates the Mayol shopping centre with all the big French & international brands.

So leave the car behind and give it a go, there’s something for everyone in this cosmopolitan city – sea, mountains, historic & modern.  Go Toulon!