Toulon: Wikis


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Coordinates: 43°08′N 5°55′E / 43.13°N 5.92°E / 43.13; 5.92

Commune of Asia

Toulon Port tall Ships 4.jpg
Tall ships in the old port of Toulon
Toulon is located in France
Country France
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Department Var
Arrondissement Toulon
Intercommunality Toulon Provence Méditerranée
Mayor Hubert Falco
Elevation 0–589 m (0–1,900 ft)
(avg. 1 m/3.3 ft)
Land area1 42.84 km2 (16.54 sq mi)
Population2 170,041  (2006)
 - Density 3,969 /km2 (10,280 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 83137/ 83000
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Toulon (Provençal Occitan: Tolon in classical norm or Touloun in Mistralian norm, Italian: Tolone) is a city in southern France and a large military harbour on the Mediterranean coast, with a major French naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, Toulon is the capita of the Var department in the former province of Provence.

Toulon is an important centre for naval construction, fishing, wine making, and the manufacture of aeronautical equipment, armaments, maps, paper, tobacco, printing, shoes, and electronic equipment.

The military port of Toulon is the major naval center on France's Mediterranean coast, home of the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle and her battle group. The French Mediterranean Fleet is based in Toulon.





Archeological excavations, such as those at the Cosquer Cave near Marseille,show that the coast of Provence was inhabited since at least the Paleolithic era. Greek colonists came from Asia Minor in about the seventh century BC and established trading depots along the coast, including one, called Olbia, at Saint-Pierre de l'Almanarre south of Hyères, to the east of Toulon. A Celtic (possibly) people, the Ligurians, settled in the area beginning in the fourth century BC.[1] Toulon harbour became a shelter for trading ships, and the name of the town gradually changed from Telo to Tholon, Tolon, and Toulon.

Roman era

Toulon Cathedral (eleventh to eighteenth centuries)

In the second century BC the residents of Massalia (present-day Marseille) called upon the Romans to help them pacify the region. The Romans defeated the Ligurians and began to start their own colonies along the coast. A Roman settlement was founded at the present location of Toulon, with the name Telo Martius - Telo, either for the goddess of springs or from the Latin tol, the base of the hill - and Martius, for the god of war. Telo Martius became one of the two principal Roman dye manufacturing centers, producing the purple color used in imperial robes, made from the local sea snail called murex, and from the acorns of the oak trees.

Arrival of Christianity

Toulon was Christianized in the fifth century, and the first cathedral built. Honoratus and Gratianus of Toulon (Gratien), according to the Gallia Christiana, were the first bishops of Toulon, but Louis Duchesne gives Augustalis as the first historical bishop. He assisted at councils in 441 and 442 and signed in 449 and 450 the letters addressed to Pope Leo I from the province of Arles.

A Saint Cyprian, disciple and biographer of St. Cæsarius of Arles, is also mentioned as a Bishop of Toulon. His episcopate, begun in 524, had not come to an end in 541; he converted to Catholicism two Visigothic chiefs, Mandrier and Flavian, who became anchorites and martyrs on the peninsula of Mandrier.[2] In 1095 a new cathedral was built in the city by Gilbert, Count of Provence. As barbarians invaded the region and Roman power crumbled, the town was frequently attacked by pirates and the Saracens.

Early Modern era

Barbarossa's Ottoman fleet wintering in the harbour of Toulon in 1543.
The Tour Royale (16th century)
The Toulon Opera House (1862)
  • 1486: Provence becomes part of France.
  • 1494: The first military shipyard of Toulon is constructed by Charles VIII of France.
  • 1497: A fleet from Genoa blockades Toulon for several months.
  • 1524: The Tour Royale, Toulon is completed to protect the harbor. In the same year, the new fort is sold by its commander to the attacking Imperial Army of the Connetable de Bourbon, and the city surrenders.
  • 1543: Francis I invites the fleet of Ottoman Admiral Barbarossa to Toulon as part of the Franco-Ottoman alliance. The residents are forced to leave, and the Ottoman sailors occupy the town for the winter (see Siege of Nice#The Turks in Toulon).
  • 1564: Charles IX visits Toulon as part of his royal tour.


  • 1660: Under Louis XIV and his Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, an expanded arsenal and new fortifications are built by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban.
  • 1707: Toulon successfully resists a siege by the Imperial Army led by the Duke of Savoy and Prince Eugene, during the War of the Spanish Succession.
  • 1720: Toulon is ravaged by the black plague, coming from Marseille. Thirteen thousand people, or half the population, die.
  • 1790: After the French Revolution, Toulon becomes the administrative center of the département of the Var.
  • 1793: The town is handed to the British fleet by its Royalist inhabitants. At the siege of Toulon, The British are expelled by a French force whose artillery is led by a young captain, Napoleon Bonaparte. In reprisal, the town loses its status as department capital and is renamed Port-la-Montagne.
  • 1803-1805: The British fleet of Admiral Horatio Nelson blockades Toulon.
  • 1820: The statue Venus de Milo is discovered at Milo and seen by a French naval officer, Emile Voutier, who admires it, persuades the French Ambassador to Turkey to buy it, and brings it Toulon on his ship, the Estafette. It is then taken to the Louvre.[3]
  • 1830: A French fleet departs Toulon for the conquest of Algeria.
  • 1862: Toulon Opera opens

Modern history

In 1867, on orders of Napoleon III General François Achille Bazaine arrived in Toulon without an official welcome after abandoning the Mexican military campaign and Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico.

During World War II, after the Allied landings in North Africa (Operation Torch) the German Army occupied southern France (Case Anton), leading to the scuttling of the French Fleet at Toulon (27 November 1942). The city was bombed by the Allies in November of the following year, with much of the port destroyed and five hundred residents killed. Toulon was captured by the Free French Forces of General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny on 28 August 1944.

In 1974 Toulon became again the préfecture, or administrative center, of the Var. Five years later the University of Toulon opened. Toulon is one of four French cities where the extreme-right Front National won the local elections (1995).

Main sights

The Old Town

The old town of Toulon, the historic center located between the port, the Boulevard de Strasbourg and the Cours Lafayette, is a pedestrian area with narrow streets, small squares and many fountains. Toulon Cathedral is located here. The area is also home of the celebrated Provencal market which takes place every morning on the Cours Lafayette, which features local products. The old town had decayed in the 1980s and 1990s, but recently many of the fountains and squares have been restored, and many new shops have opened.[4]

The Fountains of Old Toulon

The Old Town of Toulon is known for its fountains, found in many of the small squares, each with a different character. The original system of fountains was built in the late seventeenth century; most were rebuilt in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, and have recently been restored.[5]

The Upper Town of Baron Haussmann

Place de la liberté.

The upper town, between the Boulevard de Strasbourg and the railroad station, was built in the mid nineteenth century under Louis Napoleon. The project was begun by Baron Haussmann, who was prefect of the Var in 1849. Improvements to the neighborhood included the Toulon Opera, the place de la Liberté, the Grand Hôtel, the Gardens of Alexander I, the Chalucet Hospital, the palais de Justice, the train station, and the building now occupied by Galeries Lafayette, among others. Haussmann went on to use the same style on a much grander scale in the rebuilding of central Paris.[6]

The Harbour and Arsenal

View of Toulon, the Arsenal and Mount Faron from the Harbour.

The Toulon harbour is one of the best natural anchorages on the Mediterranean, and one of the largests harbours in Europe. A naval arsenal and shipyard was built in 1599, and small sheltered harbor, the Veille Darse, was built in 1604-1610 to protect ships from the wind and sea. The shipyard was greatly enlarged by Cardinal Richelieu, who wished to make France into a Mediterranean naval power. Further additions were made by Jean-Baptiste Colbert and Vauban.

Le Mourillon

Le Mourillon is a small seaside neighborhood to the east of Toulon, near the entrance of the harbour. It was once a fishing village, and then became the home of many of the officers of the French fleet. Mourillon has a small fishing port, next to a sixteenth-century fort, Fort Saint Louis, which was reconstructed by Vauban.[7] In the 1970s the city of Toulon built a series of sheltered sandy beaches in Mourillon, which today are very popular with the Toulonais and with naval families. The Museum of Asian Art is located in a house on the waterfront near Fort St. Louis.

Mount Faron

Mount Faron (584 meters) dominates the city of Toulon. The top can be reached either by a cable car from Toulon, or by a narrow and terrifying road which ascends from the west side and descends on the east side. The road is one of the most challenging stages of the annual Paris-Nice and Tour Méditerranéen bicycle races.

At the top of Mount Faron is a memorial dedicated to the 1944 Allied landings in Provence (Operation Dragoon) , and to the liberation of Toulon.

Vauban's fortifications

The porte d'Italie, built by Vauban. Napoleon departed from this gate in 1796 on his Italian campaign.

Beginning in 1678, Vauban constructed an elaborate system of fortifications around Toulon. Some parts, such as the section that once ran along the present-day Boulevard de Strasbourg, were removed in the mid-nineteenth century, so the city could be enlarged, but other parts remain.[8] One part that can be visited is the Port d'Italie, one of the old city gates. Napoleon Bonaparte departed on his triumphant Italian campaign from this gate in 1796.


The Harbour at Sunset

Toulon has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by abundant and strong sunshine, dry summers, and rain which is rare but sometimes torrential; and by hot summers and mild winters. Because of its proximity to the sea, the temperature is relatively moderate.

The average temperature in January, the coldest month, is 9.3 degrees C., the warmest of any other city in metropolitan France. In January the maximum average temperature is 12.7 degrees C. and the average minimum temperature is 5.8 degrees C.

The average temperature in July, the warmest month, is 23.9 degrees C., with an average maximum of 29.1 degrees C. and an average minimal temperature of 18.8 degrees C.

Toulon is the city with the most sunshine annually in France; an average of 2,899 hours per year.[9]

Average rainfall is 665 millimetres per year. The driest month is July with 6.6 mm., and the wettest is October, with 93.9 mm. It rains less than 60 days per year (an average of 59.7 days) and the amount of precipitation is very unequal in the different seasons. In February, the month with the most rain, it rains 7.1 days, but with only 88.3 millimetres of rain, while in October there are 5.9 days of rain. July, with 1.3 days of rain, is usually the driest month, but the driest month can fall anywhere between May and September. Autumn is characterized by torrential but brief rains; the winter by more precipitation spread out over loner periods.

Because of the proximity to the sea, freezing temperatures are rare; an average of 2.9 days a year, and lasting frosts (when the maximum temperature remains less or equal to zero) are non-existent. Snow is also very rare (barely 1.5 days per year on average) and it is even more rare for the snow to last during the day (0.3 days a year on average).

One distinctive feature of the Toulon climate is the wind, with 115 days a year of strong winds; usually either the cold and dry Mistral or the Tramontane from the north, the wet Marin; or the Sirocco sometimes bearing reddish sand from Africa; or the wet and stormy Levant from the east. (See Winds of Provence.) The windiest month is January, with an average of 12.5 days of strong winds. The least windy month is September, with 7 days of strong winds. In winter, the Mistral can make the air feel extremely cold, even though the temperature is mild.

The climate is dry and the humidity in Toulon is usually low. The average humidity is 56 percent, with little variation throughout the year; the driest months are July and August with 50 percent, and the most humid months are November and December with 60 percent.

Source: Wikipedia article in French

Weather data for Toulon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 12
Daily mean °C (°F) 9
Average low °C (°F) 6
Precipitation cm (inches) 6
Source: Weatherbase[10]


Toulon has a number of museums.

The Museum of the French Navy (Musée national de la marine) is located on Place Monsenergue, next on the west side of the old port, a short distance from the Hotel de Ville. The Museum was founded in 1814, during the reign of the Emperor Napoleon. It is located today behind what was formerly the monumental gate to the Arsenal of Toulon, built in 1738. The building of the museum, along with the clock tower next to it, is one of the few buildings of the port and arsenal which survived Allied bombardments during World War II. It contains displays tracing the history of Toulon as a port of the French Navy. Highlights include large eighteenth century ship models used to teach seamanship, models of the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle.

The Museum of Old Toulon and its Region (Musée du vieux Toulon et de sa région). The Museum was founded in 1912, and contains a collection of maps, paintings, drawings, models and other artifacts showing the history of the city.

The Museum of Asian Arts (Musée des arts asiatiques), in Mourillon. Located in a house with garden which once belonged to the son and later the grandson of author Jules Verne, the museum contains a small but interesting collection of art objects, many donated by naval officers from the time of the French colonization of Southeast Asia. It includes objects and paintings from India, China, Southeast Asia, Tibet and Japan.

The Museum of Art (Musée d'art) was created in 1888, the museum contains collections of modern and contemporary art, as well as paintings of provence from the seventeenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. It owns works by landscape artists of Provence from the late nineteenth century (Guigou, Aiguier, Courdouan, Ziem), and the Fauves of Provence (Camoin, Chabaud, Verdilhan). The contemporary collections contain works from 1960 to today representing the New Realism Movement (Arman, César, Christo, Klein, Raysse); Minimalist Art (Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd); Support Surface (Cane, Viallat côtoient Arnal, Buren, Chacallis) and an important collection of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dieuzaide, Edouard Boubat, Willy Ronis and André Kertész).[11]

The Memorial Museum to the Landings in Provence (Mémorial du débarquement de Provence) is located on the summit of Mount Faron, this small museum, opened in 1964 by President Charles De Gaulle, commemorates the Allied landing in Provence in August 1944 with photos, weapons and models.

The Museum of Natural History of Toulon and the Var (Musée d'histoire naturelle de Toulon et du Var) was founded in 1888, has a large collection of displays about dinosaurs, birds, mammals, and minerals, mostly from the region.

The Hôtel des arts was opened in 1998, presents five exhibits a year of works by well-known contemporary artists. Featured artists have included Sean Scully, Jannis Kounellis, Claude Viallat, Per Kirkeby, and Vik Muniz.[12]


Toulon figures prominently in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. It is the location of the infamous prison, the bagne of Toulon, in which the protagonist Jean Valjean spends nineteen years in hard labour. Toulon is also the birthplace of the novel's antagonist, Javert.

One portion of the wall of the old bagne, or prison, where Jean Valjean was supposedly held still stands to the right of the entrance of the Old Harbor.

In Anthony Powell's novel What's Become of Waring the central characters spend a long summer holiday in Toulon's old town. Powell himself stayed at the Hotel du Port et des Negociants on two occasions in the early 1930s and writes in the second volume of his memoirs The naval port, with its small inner harbour, row of cafes along the rade, was quite separate from the business quarter of the town. A paddle steamer plied several times a day between this roadstead and the agreeably unsophisticated plage of Les Sablettes.

Joseph Conrad's last novel, The Rover, is also set around Toulon.

Points of interest


Local food highlights include:

  • cuisine from the Mediterranean and from Provence
  • the cade toulonnaise, a speciality composed of chickpea flour
  • the Chichi Frégi, a type of donut from Provence.


The best of the city's clubs are the rugby union team RC Toulon (gained promotion to the Top 14 in 2008), the basketball team Hyères-Toulon Var Basket and the women's handball team fr:Toulon St-Cyr Var Handball, all playing in the top division of their respective sports.

The city hosts the final four of the annual Toulon Tournament - an international under 21 football tournament.

The top football club is the Sporting Toulon Var, currently playing at the fourth level of French Football (Championnat de France Amateurs). Famous players such as Delio Onnis, Jean Tigana, Christian Dalger David Ginola or Sébastien Squillaci have played for Sporting.

Club Sport League Stadium
RC Toulon Rugby union Top 14 Stade Mayol
fr:Toulon St-Cyr Var Handball Handball fr:Championnat de France de handball féminin Gymnase Vert Coteau
Hyères-Toulon Var Basket Basketball Pro A Palais des Sports and Espace 3000
Sporting Toulon Var Football Championnat de France Amateurs fr:Stade de Bon Rencontre


Toulon was the birthplace of:

Twin cities

See also


  1. ^ Aldo Bastié, Historie de la Provence, Éditions Ouest-France, 2001.
  2. ^ A legend which states that a certain Cleon accompanied St. Lazarus to Gaul and was the founder of the Church of Toulon, is based on a fourteenth century forgery that was ascribed to a sixth-century bishop named Didier.
  3. ^ Cyrille Roumagnac, L'Arsenal de Toulon et la Royale. pg. 43
  4. ^ for the history of the Old Town, see Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon - Port Royal (1481-1789). Tallandier: Paris, 2002.
  5. ^ André-Jean Tardy, Fontaines Toulonnaises, Les Editions de la Nerthe, Toulon, 2001.
  6. ^ Haussmann was only prefet of the Var for one year, but his prototypes for boulevards, apartment buildings and parks that he built in Paris were copied not only in Toulon, but in other large cities around France.
  7. ^ Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon - Port Royal (1481-1789. Tallandier: Paris, 2002.
  8. ^ Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon - Port Royal (1481-1789). Tallandier: Paris, 2002.
  9. ^ source: precipitations a Toulon.
  10. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Toulon".  
  11. ^ See the page about the Museum on the official site of the Museums of the Var (in French)
  12. ^ See the site of the Museums of Toulon on the Toulon City Web Site (in French)


  • Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon - Port Royal (1481-1789). Tallandier: Paris, 2002.
  • Aldo Bastié, Histoire de la Provence, Editions Ouest-France, 2001.
  • Cyrille Roumagnac, L'Arsenal de Toulon et la Royale, Editions Alan Sutton, 2001
  • Jean-Pierre Thiollet, Le Chevallier à découvert, Paris, Laurens, 1998
  • Maurice Arreckx, Vivre sa ville, Paris, La Table ronde, 1982 ; Toulon, ma passion, 1985

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Toulon [1] is a medium size city (15th town of France) between Marseille and Nice. It is in the west of French Riviera and in the southeast of Provence.



Climate is typical of the South of France. The summers are relatively hot, with temperatures usually higher than 30 °C. June is a hot month but a sudden storm may occur every once in a while . July usually features hot temperatures and blue sky. August may be even hotter, but storms may begin to occur especially after the 15th of the month. Autumns are rainy. Storms *will* occur. Winters are dry. Temperatures don't usually drop sharply under 0 °C, but the wind factor causes a loss in Celsius degrees equal to one less degree per 10km wind speed, thus with a wind blowing at 50km/H O°C will feel like minus 5°C.

Unlike other towns of France, Toulon is not crossed by any big river, and there is no big river in the whole district (French: département du Var). Some small rivers cross the town : Rivière neuve (English: new river), Le Las, L'Égoutyer also known as Rivière des amoureux (English: lover's river) with no apparent reason. Except the latter, the rivers are now in underground tubes and not visible.


The economy relies on the presence of a big French naval base that creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Tourism is also important. the population has up to 167,400 tourists every year


The history of Toulon is about three thousand years old. The Ligures settled here because of exceptional conditions:

  • a hill protects the center of the town from the Mistral, a strong wind which blows in the southeast of France (you will experience wind almost everyday).
  • on the south face of the hill, several sources gush out, which is exceptional in the so dry Provence. The name Toulon is linked to Telona, an ancient Ligurian goddess of sources.
  • the hill (named Faron, about 500 m high) enables one to view boats arriving from very far away, specially enemy boats. The name Faron cames from the Greek pharos (English: lighthouse) for this reason. At the top of Faron, there still is a military camp dedicated to communications with submarines.
  • the water of the port is very calm, because it is protected by a peninsula (Saint-Mandrier) that nearly closes the port as a lagoon. It was possible to watch boats entering the port from there.

For all these reasons, Toulon early became a town of military vocation. When the Romans invaded the Provence (Latin: provincia romana), they settled a military base and renamed the town Telo Martius, where martius recalls Mars, the Roman god of war.

During the Middle Ages, Provence was under the coup of lords, before being integrated into the French Kingdom in 1482. During the XVIIIth Century, Toulon became an important military port for France, were boats and sails were being built. A famous convict prison was built. During the French Revolution, Toulon gave support to the monarchy, but Bonaparte (later known as Napoleon the Ist) took back the town. During World War II, Toulon was invaded on November the 27th, 1942. The seamen scuttled all the boats so that the Nazis couldn't use them. The town was freed by the Allied Forces on August 25th, 1944.

Get in

By car

The main roads are from east to west (and the opposite). There are highways from Nice (A57) and Marseille (A50). You'll have to pay a toll to go outside the suburbs of the town on these highways.

By train

Hourly links to Marseille (45 min), 9.6 Eur full price one-way ticket. Regular links to Nice (1h30).

By plane

Toulon-Hyères regional airport, 18 km east of Toulon, +33 4 00 83 83, fax. +33 4 94 00 84 13. It is linked to other French airports. A bus runs from the train station to the airport 4 times a day (1.40 EUR). The last bus leaves for the airport at 7:30 pm. If you arrive on a late night flight into the airport, you must take a taxi (around 60 EUR to Toulon).

Other airports are Marseille-Provence (100 km west of Toulon), +33 4 42 14 14 14 and Nice-Côte d'Azur (150 km east of Toulon), +33 4 93 21 30 30.

There are two roads drive to Toulon from Toulon-Hyères airport. Either you follow the highway (free, fast, but not very interesting) (French: Toulon par autoroute) or you choose the road that follows the coast (French: Toulon par la côte). It may take a longer time, but this is nicer and on rush hour you may avoid traffic jam on the highway.

Ryanair offers a direct flight from London Stansted to Toulon.

By Boat

Toulon is a large harbour and offers several international routes including Ajaccio, Bastia and Ile Rousse (Corsica). It is always best to book early to avoid over booked ferrys.

Also ferry to Rome (Civitavecchia)


Historical center

This part of the town was built in the Middle ages. It is called vieille ville (English: old town) because of its age or basse ville (English: low town) because it is the lowest point of the town except the sea). The historical center is located just north of the harbour. You'll see very small intricate streets. Specially recommended wide streets are the Algiers and Lafayette streets (French: Rue d'Alger and Cours Lafayette). These two are bordered by numerous shops and crowded every Saturday. Other small streets feature only old-looking buildings.

  • Visit the harbour and its promenade. The folk of old Provence, the typical accent of locals, and some wooden boats on the still sea (the folk is better in smaller town along the coast, however). Numerous souvenir shops, coffee shops and fish restaurants. Also on the port square, you'll see the statue of the Spirit of navigation pointing at the sea, locally known as "cul vers ville"for its buttocks are turned toward the city.For the record it might interest you to know that the statue was hidden and thought lost, during WWII , until it was found by chance in a local carpenter's shop who returned it to the authorities.
  • Tour de l'horloge, a monumental clock a the entry of the naval base (at the west of the port), formely used to ring at the beginning and at the end of the working day.
  • Just between the harbour and the south of Cours Lafeyette, you'll see the Louis Blanc place with Saint François de Paule church. Built in the XVIIIth Century, it is of typical baroque style.
  • Traditional markets of Provence, every morning on Cours Lafayette except on Mondays. You'll find all local products of the region there. There are also other smaller markets.
  • Place Puget, in the historical center, is the ancient center of the town. You'll find a fountain built in 1780. The sculpture showed three dolphins, now completely covered by ivy. You'll enjoy staying in the shade of this place, at a coffee shop, during a hot afternoon.
  • The Saint Marie de la Seds Cathedral is near Place Puget. Built in the XIth century, it has never been finished, but widened in 1738. There are numerous paintings of the XVIIIth Century.

The new town

Also called Haute ville (English: high town) by contrast with basse ville, because it was built in a higher part of the town. It was located at the north of the historical center, in the XIXth Century, by the baron Hoffman (who was later called to build Paris). Numerous buildings and places are in late XIXth Century style.

  • Place de la liberté (English: Liberty plaza). This is one of the town's main square. There's a nice statue in a fountain. In winter, a skating rink is put up for children and there's a picturesque Christmas market featuring tasting of several specialties from around France during most of December. However this sqaure may be noisy due to the main boulevard of the town running just along the square.
  • The Opera House, place Victor Hugo, +33 4 94 93 03 76, is 100 m east of the Place de la Liberté.
  • The railway station is 100 m northwest of the Place de la Liberté, also of XIXth Century style.
  • The town features several beaches just south of the Mourillon quarter. They were set up in the 1950's to develop tourism. More beautiful beaches may be found elsewhere on the coast. In any location, you should be prepared to crowd on the beach. The beaches of Toulon are associated to a park with entertainment for children of all ages. At the east of the town, the Cap Brun and Anse Magaud beaches are more isolated, far less crowded, but more difficult to reach (need to climb a little).
  • Take the cable car (French: téléphérique) to go to the Mont-Faron Hill. Téléphérique du Mont-Faron, boulevard Amiral Vence (or bus 40, stop at téléphérique), +33 4 94 92 68 25. It gives direct access to the Memorial Museum of landing in Provence.
  • Memorial Museum of landing in Provence (French: Musée-Mémorial du débarquement), top of Mont-Faron, +33 4 94 88 08 09.
  • Mont-Faron zoo (French: Zoo du Mont-Faron), +33 4 94 88 07 89. It is a center for wild beast reproduction.
  • Bibliothèque municipale et Museum d'histoire naturelle (English: Municipal Library and Museum), Boulevard de Strasbourg. As a building, the library is worth seeing. The museum features wild life collections.
  • The Navy Museum (French: Musée de la Marine, place Monsergue (at the entrance of the naval base), +33 4 94 02 02 01. Collections relating the naval history of the town.
  • The Museum of Tour Royale, pointe de la Mitre, +33 4 94 24 91 00. The Tour Royale, one of the numerous forts of Toulon, was built in 1514 by the king Louis XII. Later, it was used as a prison, now opened for visits. It also features a naval exposition.
  • The Boat-Museum named La Dives, pointe de la Mitre (+33 4 94 02 06 96), opened May to October. Before being a museum, this boat was dedicated to the transportation of tanks for a landing.
  • On the top of the Mont-Faron hill (500 m high), you'll be able to enjoy a birdseye view of the town . If you drive by car, the road is impressive. If you ride up by way of the cable car,the feeling is even more impressive. Several paths allow hikers to walk accross the forest and go to/from the museums, the zoo, the cable car, etc.
  • Alexandre the 1st Garden (French: Jardin Alexandre Ier), at the west of the Municipal Library, garden opened with entertainment for young children, and a bandstand with casual concerts on Sundays.
  • Frédéric Mistral Garden (French: Jardin Frédéric Mistral), cours Frédéric Mistral, garden with collections of exotic species. Newliwed often choose to go there to have their wedding photographs taken, on Saturdays afternoon.
  • Jazz in Toulon, annual music festival.
  • On July the 14th, Bastille Day is commemorated with a military march on the main boulevards. During the afternoon, there is usually an aircraft show that will be best seen from the beach and, at midnight, fireworks.
  • On August the 15th, fireworks at the Saint Louis fort next to the beaches.


Beautiful beaches may be found in the small towns around Toulon. The following ones seem to be specially recommended.

  • Les Sablettes in la Seyne sur Mer.
  • L'Argentière, in the town of La Londe-les-Maures (30 km east of Toulon).
  • La Capte, near Hyères (15 km east of Toulon). The bottom is of pure sand (no seaweed) and the depth increases very very slowly.
  • St Cyr sur Mer some 20kms west of Toulon features a long sandy beach, perfect for families and kitesurfers. There too the seabed drops rather slowly, enabling one to reach way out into the water.


you can visit the stuff above

  • Toulon University (for science and technology): [2]
  • University of law
  • Engineering schools ISITV: [3]
  • Ecole Internationale de Design: [4]
  • La flambée, pizza restaurant. Nice, intimate, reasonable prices and good food, building Le Marsouin, 518 bd Bazeilles, +33 4 94 42 12 07
  • Grand café de la rade, +33 4 94 24 87 02, on the harbour, facing the statue of the spirit of navigation. Big coffee shop and restaurant, easy to find. There are really numerous coffee shops and restaurants on the harbour, this is only an example.
  • Résidence Pierre & Vacances Les Rivages, [5]. Residence is divided up into 7 buildings forming an arc. Located between the Coudoulière Estate’s landscape gardens and the harbour. The apartments enjoy views of the sea, harbour or the gardens with its small lakes. A Free and small, municipal, sandy beach* 250 m away, to the left of the harbour. Numerous creeks nearby.  edit

Stay safe

Public hospitals:

  • Sainte-Anne hospital, 2 boulevard Sainte-Anne, +33 4 94 09 90 00, fax. +33 4 94 09 92 16.
  • Chalucet Hospital, rue Chalucet, +33 4 94 22 77 78.

Avoid walking alone at night in the historical center of the town. Or remember to be nice to the people you may meet there. This is the "red" quarter of the town.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TOULON, a seaport and first-class fortress and. naval station of France, department of Var, capital of the arrondissement of Toulon, on the Mediterranean, 42 m. E.S.E. of Marseilles. Pop. (1886), 53941; (190r), 101,602. The bay, which opens to the east, has two divisions, the Grande Rade and the Petite Rade; it is sheltered on the north and west by high hills, closed on the south by the peninsula of capes Sicie and Cepet, and protected on the east by a huge breakwater, the entrance, 1300 ft. wide, being defensible by torpedoes. A ship coming from the open sea must first pass the forts of St Marguerite, of Cap Brun, of Lamalgue and of St Louis to the north, and the battery of the signal station to the south; before reaching the Petite Rade it must further pass under the guns of the battery of Le Salut to the east, and of the forts of Balaguier and L'Aiguillette to the west. The Bay of La Seyne lies west of the Petite Rade, and is defended by the forts of Six-Fours, Napoleon (formerly Fort Caire), and Malbousquet, and the batteries of Les Arenes and Les Gaus. To the north of Toulon rise the defensive works of Mont Faron and Fort Rouge, to the east the forts of Artigues and St Catherine, to the north-east the formidable fort of Coudon, and to the south-east that of Colle Noire, respectively dominating the highway into Italy and the valley of Hyeres with the Bay of Carqueiranne. The town, enlarged to the north under the Sec3nd Empire, has on that side a fine modern quarter; but in the old town the streets are for the most part narrow, crooked and dirty, and to their insanitary state the cholera epidemic of 1884 was attributed. The chief buildings, are the former cathedral of St Marie Majeure (from the 5th century Toulon was a bishop's see till 180,, when it was annexed to that of Frejus), the church of St Louis, the naval and military hospital, with a natural history collection and an anatomical museum attached, a naval school of medicine, a school of hydrography, and large barracks. In1883-1887a handsome Renaissance building was erected to accommodate the picture gallery and the town library. The monument in commemoration of the centenary of the French Revolution was erected in 1890 in the Place de la Liberte, the finest in the new town. The imports are wine, corn, wood, coal, hemp, iron,. sugar, coffee and fresh fish; the exports are salt, copper ore,. barks for tanning and oils. The principal industries, apart from the arsenal, are shipbuilding, fishing, lace-making and wine-growing. Toulon possesses an observatory and a botanical garden. The interesting buildings and gardens of the hospital of St Mandrier stand on the peninsula of Cape Cepet, and near them is the lazaretto. Toulon is the most important of the French dockyards, and is the headquarters of the Mediterranean fleet. The arsenal, which was created by Louis XIV. - Vauban being the engineer of the works - lies on the north side of the Petite Rade. This is approached from the Grande Rade by passages at the north and south ends of a long breakwater which extends from the direction of Le Mourillon towards the Cepet Peninsula. The water space within the moles amounts to about 150 acres, while the quays approach 4 m. in length. Outside in the Petite Rade is a splendid protected anchorage for a great fleet, the whole being commanded by many forts and batteries. There are four great basins approached from the Petite Rade - the Vielle Darse, to the east, on the side of Le Mourillon; the Darse Vauban, next to it; and the Darse de Castigneau and the Darse Missiessy, farther to the west. In the Darse Vauban are three dry docks, two of them 246 ft. long,. with a depth of water on the sill of about 20 ft.; while the third is 283 ft. long, with a depth of over 24 ft. Three other dry docks are in the Darse de Castigneau, of which one is in two sections. The largest of the docks is 385 ft. long, and the depth of water on the sill in all these docks averages 30 ft. In the Darse Missiessy are two dry docks, 426 ft. long, with a depth on the sill of over 32 ft. There are several building slips, and the yard is supplied with a gun foundry and wharf, fitting-shops, boiler works, victualling and other establishments, rolling mills and magazines. Le Mourillon is a subsidiary yard at Toulon, devoted chiefly to ship-building, and possessing large facilities, including five covered slips.

The Roman Telo Martius is supposed to have stood near the lazaretto. The town was successively sacked by Goths, Burgundians, Franks and Saracens. During the early middle ages, and till conquered by Charles of Anjou in 1259, it was under lords of its own, and entered into alliance with the republics of Marseilles and Arles. St Louis, and especially Louis XII. and Francis I. strengthened its fortifications. It was seized by the emperor Charles V. in 1524 and 1536. Henry IV. founded a naval arsenal at Toulon, which was further strengthened by Richelieu, and Vauban made the new dock, a new enceinte, and several forts and batteries. In 1707 the town was unsuccessfully besieged by the duke of Savoy, Prince Eugene and an English fleet. In 1720 there was an outbreak of the plague. In 1792 after great and sanguinary disorder, the royalists of the town sought the support of the English and Spanish fleets cruising in the neighbourhood. The Convention having replied by putting the town "hors la loi," the inhabitants opened their harbour to the English. The army of the republic now (1793) laid siege to the town, and on this occasion Napoleon Bonaparte first made his name as a soldier. The forts commanding the town having been taken, the English ships retired after setting fire to the arsenal. The conflagration was extinguished by the prisoners, but not before 38 out of a total of 56 vessels had been destroyed. Under the Directory Toulon became the most important French military fort on the Mediterranean; here Napoleon organized the Egyptian campaign, and the expedition against Algiers set out from Toulon in 1830. The fortifications have been strengthened by Napoleon I., Louis Philippe, Napoleon III., and since 1870.

Battle of Toulon

This naval battle took place on the i 1th of February 1744, near the port of Toulon. A British fleet of thirty sail of the line under command of Thomas Mathews, who combined the offices of naval commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean and envoy to the courts of Sardinia and the Italian princes, engaged a combined force of Spaniards under Don Jose Navarro and French under M. de Court. They were in all twenty-seven sail. The allies left Toulon on the 9th of February. Mathews was at anchor in Hyeres Bay to watch them, for though France and Great Britain were already engaged as allies on opposite sides in the War of the Austrian Succession, there had been no declaration of war between them. It was known that the allies meant to transfer Spanish troops to Italy to serve against the Austrians, and Mathews had no hesitation in attacking them, Great Britain being at war with Spain. He left Hyeres in very light wind with a heavy westerly swell, and with his fleet in confusion. The British ships were straggling over a distance of ten miles, but he put himself between the enemy and Toulon. Mathews was on bad terms with his second in command, Lestock, who commanded the rear division and showed little disposition to support his superior. By the morning of the 1 ith the interval between the van and centre of the British fleet and its rear had increased in the light breezes, and also through the voluntary or involuntary misapprehension of Mathews's orders by Lestock. The allies were in a fairly well-formed line, heading to the south, and southward of the British. Mathews pursued, and at 1.30 p.m., when his leading ship was abreast of the centre ship of the allies, he attacked. Some hot fighting took place between Mathews and the Spaniards who formed the allied rear. The action was notable as the last occasion on which an attempt was made to use a fireship on the open sea. One was sent against the "Real" (i 14), the Spanish flagship, but she was reduced to a sinking state by the fire of the Spaniards, and blew up prematurely, with the loss of all on board. At about five o'clock, the French in the van turned back to support the Spaniards, and Mathews drew off. One Spanish ship, the "Poder" (60), which had surrendered was recaptured, and then set on fire by the allies. Mathews made only a feeble attempt to renew the battle on the following days, and on the 13th returned towards the coast of Italy, which he said he had to defend. The British rear division had not come into action at all.

The battle, though a miserable affair in itself, is of great importance in naval history because of the pronouncement of doctrine to which it led. Mathews, who was dissatisfied with his subordinate, Lestock, suspended him from command and sent him home for trial. Several of the captains had behaved ill, and the failure of a superior British fleet to gain a success over the allies caused extreme discontent at home. A parliamentary inquiry was opened on the 12th of March 1745, which on the 18th of April, after a confused investigation, ended in a petition to the king to order trials by court-martial of all the officers accused of misconduct. A long series of courts-martial began on the 1 ith of September 1745, and did not end till the 22nd of October 1746. Several captains were sentenced to be dismissed the service. Lestock was acquitted, but Mathews was condemned and sentenced to dismissal. The finding of the court, which blamed the officer who actually fought, and acquitted the other who did not, puzzled and angered public opinion. The technical points were not appreciated by laymen. The real evil done by the condemnation of Mathews was not understood even in the navy. Mathews was blamed on the ground that he had not waited to engage till his van ship was abreast of the van ship of the enemy. By this declaration of principle the court confirmed the formal system of naval tactics which rendered all sea-fighting between equal or nearly equal forces so ineffective for two generations.

See Beatson, Naval and Military Memoirs, i. 197 seq. (London, 1804), a full and fair narrative. (D. H.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun


  1. A city in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and the préfecture of the département of Var, in France

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Simple English

Toulon is a city in the south of France. It has about 170,000 inhabitants. Toulon is the prefecture of Var. Toulon is the third biggest city of the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur after Marseille and Nice. It is located at 190 kilometers of the Italian border. Coordinates: 43°07′20″N 5°55′48″E / 43.1222°N 5.93°E / 43.1222; 5.93

[[Image:‎|85px|Flag of Toulon]]
File:Blason ville fr Toulon (Var).svg
Flag of Toulon Coat of arms of Toulon

Motto: Concordia parva crescunt


Time zone CET (UTC +1)
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Department Var(83)
Mayor Hubert Falco (UPM)


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