Visiting Toulon Bay by boat and getting close to the French Navy boats is a childlike pleasure. The port and the naval base are impossible to miss, these are the places which forged the city’s soul. This boat trip from Toulon will take us to the Saint Mandrier sur Mer peninsular, via the coast of La Seyne-sur-Mer… It’s the key time to discover Toulon. I’m passionate about my city and I never get tired of this place, of this slice of French naval history, version 2018…
Visit the Bay by boat: A must do in Toulon !
My little nephews and nieces from Paris are here on a visit, the and they fancy seeing the sea – I jump at the opportunity to suggest the Toulon Bay visit. Off we go to the tourist office where I can get a “good deal” on tickets. Once we’ve done that, we just have to hop over the Avenue de la République which runs along the side of the port and we’re ready to board one of the boatmen’s cutters.
The beauty of the summer season is that there are a lot of visits and so we don’t have to wait long!
Toulon, The prettiest bay in Europe …
We choose an end of morning departure so we can go and eat at a terrace in the old town afterwards. The weather is perfect – not a cloud in sight: sun cream, cap and straw hat are “de rigueur”. I get the camera ready, the family is in the boat and ready to go. The departure is announced by the captain, and we’re off for an hour’s exploration!
We leave the quay, with Mount Faron in the background and we get to the naval base: we are blown away! We’re lucky because, the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle is in town and it shows its imposing self. The children are full of wonder and I admit that I’m quite impressed myself… Then we discover the rest of the fleet: we are looking at a major part of the French naval force, the facts and figures that we hear coming out of the loudspeakers bear witness to that!
The trip continues along the coast, the landscape is incredible: Toulon harbour is surrounded by hills and mountains, in succession, we can see the ship’s graveyard (where naval boats are put to rest), mussel beds, Balaguier Fort, Lazaret bay and its oriental mansions. We sail along Saint-Mandrier coast and the sea wall which leads to the Tour Royale and its bathyscaphe*.
360 degrees of the Bay’s naval heritage
Back at the quay, the whole family is won over: we have seen some wonders and the visit has taught us a lot! An added advantage, we got a bit brown 🙂
We can’t wait to eat in the shade of the plane trees and admire the photos we took on the boat…
Back along the harbour on our way to the restaurant, we notice the Musée National de la Marine (National Navy Museum), just next to the entrance to the naval base. We decide to visit it at the beginning of the afternoon, to complete our visit of Toulon Bay and discover the history of Toulon’s penal camp.
Tomorrow, we’ll spend the day at Mount Faron, the children can’t wait to take the cable car and it’s famous glass floors… This week on holiday in Toulon has certainly many surprises!
“Toulon Bay is the prettiest and the most excellent of the Mediterranean Sea, all nations agree”. Vauban, 1679.
*Bathyscaphe : small submarine used for deep sea exploration..