Toulon is a city steeped in history and character, where visitors can explore France’s second largest naval port, while also enjoying some of the seriously impressive local cuisine.
Toulon’s south coast location means the city has a good amount of hotel stock for visitors. Big-name properties like the 28-room Best Western La Corniche (17 Littoral Frederic Mistral), which overlooks a beach, and the 80-room Holiday Inn Toulon City Centre (1 avenue Rageot de la Touche) cater well for those in search of familiar brands, while the three-star Grand Hôtel Dauphiné (10 rue Berthelot), a 10-minute walk from the city’s main port, is a good mid-priced option. For something more individual, the tiny two-room B&B at La Maison du Bonheur (5 rue Gimelli) gives a friendly welcome.
Toulon itself isn’t the archetypal Provence getaway, but that doesn’t stop the port city providing its fair share of diversion. It has plenty of stores in which to pick up some genuinely impressive purchases, notably among the alleyways around Rue d’Alger and Place Puget – the home furnishings on sale at Décors du Sud (7 place Puget) are a case in point. Elsewhere in town, and tapping into the city’s unbridled passion for the oval ball, there’s rugby-influenced fashion to be found at the Serge Blanco store (9 rue Racine). Near the harbour itself, there are good options for buying fishing and diving items.
The city streets give stage to numerous fresh produce markets – the Cours Lafayette morning market, taking place daily except Mondays, is especially notable – and one look at the Provençal specialties on display will tell you that you’re in a region that takes food and drink seriously. Top Toulon restaurants include Le Pointilliste (43 rue Picot), La Promesse (250 rue Jean Jaurès) and Les Têtes d’Ail (22 rue des Bonnetières), all of which give the chance to sample first-hand why this area of France has developed a reputation for fresh, unfussy gastronomy. Garlic, tomatoes and olive oil tend to figure regularly.
A festival of Japanese culture and a fixture on the Toulon event calendar since 2006, Mang’Azur promotes everything from manga cartoons to Far East food delicacies. Music, fashion and traditional painting also figure, helping to draw thousands of attendees.
Tournoi Espoirs de Toulon
An international football tournament run outside of the auspices of UEFA or FIFA, the Tournoi Espoirs de Toulon (literally ‘Hopefuls’ Tournament’) involves national teams of players under the age of 21. France, Brazil and England have all previously won the title.
Festival de Musique de Toulon
Otherwise known as ‘Estival’, the Festival de Musique de Toulon focuses largely on orchestral works and baroque recitals, with violin and piano pieces particularly prevalent. The ticketed concerts take place in various venues around the city.
A weekend-long festival dedicated to electronic music and experimental art, TLN draws musicians, DJs and dance music enthusiasts to Toulon. Features include organised concerts, club events, night-time light projections and ‘silent discos’. The majority of artists involved are French.
Jazz à Toulon
Running since the late 1980s, Jazz à Toulon stages some 20 free concerts over a period of more than two weeks, with a special emphasis on vocal jazz. Artists on the bill include international names as well as domestic talent.