Best things to do in Toulon

Toulon is the third biggest city in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region after Marseille and Nice. The harbour, as old as Ancient Greece, is the town’s crown jewel. Thanks to its exceptional natural environment Toulon is France’s only natural harbour combining naval and land defence posts. Ideally placed at the foot of Mount Faron, it is typically Provencal and loaded with lots of charm. Here is my selection of the best things to do in Toulon.47 navigation statue toulon P1099348

Visit the Old Town

Old Toulon, with its fountains and olive trees, is wonderfully Provencal. Stroll the pedestrian areas of downtown, filled with large squares and shady streets.71 old town toulon P109923073 old town toulon P109923875 old town toulon P1099246 The market is full of fruits and vegetables. You can taste the harvest of small producers, who display locally and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables. The city is home to a varied selection of contemporary art. 72 old town toulon P1099236Don’t miss Rue d'Alger so that you can see butterfly decorations over your head. 78 old town toulon P109920770 old town toulon P1099217Keep an eye out for street art everywhere.74 old town toulon P109924477 old town toulon P1099258

Have a cup of coffee next to Opera House

A historical monument designed by architect Leon Feuchere was inaugurated in 1862. Its neoclassical features include a facade of arches, giant grey and pink colonnades, and a pediment that gives it the look of an ancient sanctuary. Opera House can accommodate more than 1,300 spectators in its luxurious auditorium. The Opera offers classical performances like La Traviata, Tosca, and Cosi fan Tutte, as well as masterpieces of French lyrical music and operettas, all performed by world-class singers.59 opera toulon P109922658 opera toulon P1099222

Walk around Place de la Liberte

This vast square forms the hub of the city and is bordered by a cinema, theatre, cafés, restaurants, and major stores. 12 liberty square toulon P110948210 liberty square toulon P1109474The magnificent facade of the Grand Hotel built in the late 19th century, now home to the new Theatre Liberte, provides a perfect backdrop to the dramatic late 19th century Fountain of the Federation, an impressive artwork with triumphant sculptures and splashing jets of water.11 liberty square toulon P1109480

Take a picture with statues of the Card Game

Born in Toulon in 1883, Jules Muraire or Raimu began his career as a comedian. Later he became a hero of Pagnol’s famous “Trilogy” film series. Three monuments are dedicated to the well-known artist in Toulon, including this sculpture of Pagnol’s famous Card Game on Place Raimu Square, where visitors can pose for a photo in one of the free chairs opposite cheating Cesar and Panisse!53 card game toulon P1099251Continue your way to Place Monsenergue where you can see and visit several interesting objects including Clock Tower, Abandoned boats installation and National Maritime Museum of Toulon. So here you go!

Look at the Clock Tower

Located inside the walls of the naval base, the clock tower is visible from the main entrance of the base. Built at the end of the 18th century, it was originally used as a lookout post, while the clock housed in the bell tower announced the start and end of the working day.35 clock tower toulon P1109379

Visit the National Maritime Museum of Toulon

Created at the end of the First Empire, under the reign of Napoleon the National Maritime Museum of Toulon is located next to the Clock Tower of the arsenal. Ship models, paintings and other artefacts retrace the military past of a strategically important port.37 marine museum toulon P1099374

Have a look at abandoned boats installation

It is called “Displacement”. It is the structure of stranded boats that had been installed by Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata in front of the Naval Museum and the naval base. Seven boats with faded and worn hulls were recovered and then arranged into a complex. 55 boats toulon P1099210Unfortunately, the abandoned boats are a source of pollution in the harbour.

Visit Church Saint-François de Paule

Built in the middle of the 18th century, Church Saint-François de Paule is located next to the harbour of Toulon. The former chapel of the Récollets convent has a nave extended by a choir with a flat apse. The aisles are surmounted by a large tribune that runs on three sides. The church layout is unique in France. If the interior is almost austere classicism, the main facade is marked by a Baroque influence. The bell tower dates from the second half of the 19th century.40 church toulon P109936041 church toulon P109936642 church toulon P1099369

Take a harbour walk

Toulon Marina is a relaxing place to visit next to the city centre. Here you can embark on boat cruises, glean fascinating insights into French naval history and see some of today's powerful navy ships. Stroll through the marina and enjoy the picturesque scenery of the surrounding hills and numerous sailing boats. Bring your camera for lots of great photo opportunities. Stop for refreshments at one of the waterside cafés or restaurants.51 harbour walk toulon P109935650 harbour walk toulon P1099353

Admire Genie de la Navigation statue

Genie de la Navigation statue was erected in 1847. It faces the sea and represents the spirit of marine conquest and exploration. While it affectionately got baptised "Cuverville", in memory of an admiral of the same name, it also stands for the light joke of "Cuverville", meaning "bottom towards the city."47 navigation statue toulon P109934848 navigation statue toulon P1099350

Go on your own boat tour

Take a return trip by public boat number 8M to La Seyne departing from Gare Maritime in the harbour area. 60 boat tour toulon P109926065 boat tour toulon P109930862 boat tour toulon P109927368 boat tour toulon P1099339It’s an easy way to explore the city's naval heritage since Toulon has been the French Navy's base for over 500 years. It’s also a good opportunity to watch the city’s skyline from the sea and admire many yachts and boats in the harbour. Boat number 8M departures are scheduled three times in an hour. It’s a part of the Réseau Mistral public transport network and is widely used by locals and tourists.

Visit Mourillon district

Originally a fishermen’s village, the Mourillon district still boasts original, picturesque architecture. Its daily market, chic little boutiques, many restaurants, and seaside location makes it Toulon’s most coveted quarter. The coastline has seven hectares of man-made beaches, a water-sports centre with many activities for athletes of all levels and ages.
When exiting a bus at Mitre bus stop to explore Mourillon district, check out Fort Saint-Louis on your left.

Check out Fort Saint-Louis

Built at the end of the 17th century at the request of Louis XIV, Fort Saint-Louis served as a cannon tower to protect the harbour from enemy intrusions. It now houses the nautical club of the French Navy. Now you are ready for a walk!32 mourillon fort toulon P1109403

Take the less known path along the coast

It will bring you to the pine tree-shaded bays of Mitre. Stretching from the Mejean bay to Tour Royale tower, via the Mourillon beaches, this gorgeous footpath overlooking the sea waves is several kilometres long. Some parts of the path may be covered with water, and you will have to walk on slippery stones. If you are not ready for that, go back to Mitre when the comfortable walkway ends. I went all the way to La Tour Royale tower and then took the street to the bus stop.20 mourillon walk toulon P110940722 mourillon walk toulon P110942023 mourillon walk toulon P110942424 mourillon walk toulon P110943325 mourillon walk toulon P110943627 mourillon walk toulon P110944228 mourillon walk toulon P110944929 mourillon walk toulon P1109454By the way, one of the reasons why I went to Toulon was to ride a cable car. Unfortunately, it was not operating at the time of my visit. I hope you will be luckier than me.

Ride the cable car to the top of the Mont Faron

The Mont Faron cable car in Toulon was inaugurated in 1959. Originally built by Louis Valery Roussel, the cable car allowed residents to reach their homes by an airborne line! Now, this unique cable car gives Toulon residents and many tourists access to the summit located about 584 meters above sea level. The cabins can accommodate 17 passengers, including people with reduced mobility.45 cable car toulon P1099361

Practical information

Toulon has an extensive public bus network. I suggest using public transport and your own feet to explore the city. The day ticket for public transport costs less than 4 euros and also includes rides on public boats. It’s a real treat. Buy your day ticket at a Tabac shop.57 practical toulon P1099213 Bear in mind that very likely the shop assistant will not understand English and you will have to show a picture on your phone for your desired purchase. Remember to stamp your ticket every time when entering the wehicle. 66 boat tour toulon P1099329Have a great time!

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What did you think? Have you visited Toulon? I’d love to hear from you so please add your comment below.

  • Published by Anita on October 15, 2021

    Author: Anita Sāne

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.


    Toulon looks seriously amazing! I've been to Nice and loved it there, next time I'm planning a trip to Toulon as well :)
    The photos are incredibly beautiful. I loved the way you have described Toulon.

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