In the series “Unique Moments/Magic Moments in Toulon,” a sunrise on the sea-front is in pole position! On a September morning, in the extended heat of the summer, we feel lethargic and the excitement of experiencing a privileged moment. This will be at the Royal Tower, which usually welcomes us by day when taking toddlers for a walk and in the evening as festival goers: the goal is to be the sole spectators of a special moment.
The Royal Tower : an imposing “fort” of Toulon
For the history books, The Royal Tower was built in 1514 on the instructions of Louis XII for completion in 1524. It was the first work undertaken for the maritime defence of the harbour. Partly dug into the rock, it is one of the most emblematic monuments of the city. It is accessed by a walkway overlooking the moats. 60m in diameter with 7m thick wall, a perfect example of “Torrioni”, cannon towers, built in Italy in the 16th century. Occupied in 1942 by the Germans who had put in place Anti-Aircraft Artillery which was almost destroyed by American bombing. The Royal Tower, classified as a “Historic Monument” from 1947, is visited in Summer and hosts various cultural events on a sunny day.
The Royal Tower is surrounded by the small beach of Pipady and a landscaped park with games for children. The location is very much sought-after for walks, with magical views of the harbour at any time of the day. In the gardens a bathyscaphe can be found, one of the symbols of the city taken up by the young designers of Toulon.
6.30am : The world belongs to us
Birds chirping, water trickling, an agreeable freshness… Even if the wake-up is earlier than usual, what we feel by experiencing the quietness and tranquillity of the place is refreshing… A new day is about to break and we are lucky to be there.
For a period of ten minutes, we are alone in the world, timelessly witnessing a bit of magic. First of all sky and sea are at one. Then we witness a spectacle of colours : black night, blue night, shades of purple, bright orange… The distant coasts gradually switch from darkness to light, the view becomes clearer, little by little we identify the landscape and greenery. In this brief period of eternity the sky creates a feeling of awe, surrender, and calls for silence.
Happiness at sea at the Royal Tower
The gradual rise of the sun takes us out of our contemplation. The sounds that can now be heard are those of human beings: fishermen returning from their night at sea, the first ferry leaving port for Corsica, the boat-buses start their coming and going between La Seyne-sur-Mer and Toulon, with workers on-board commuting to their offices.
The sky brightens-up, almost no trace of the night, the sun warms us up. The day looks like it will be beautiful. Living this special moment, a smile on one’s lips, we decide to make this moment last, enjoying breakfast on the sea-front.
Taking the coastal road we arrive at the beaches of Mourillon with their café terraces. From here the view also leaves one to daydream. There are mornings which remain truly memorable through the intensity and pleasure it gives…and this will be one of them.