When you discover Toulon step by step, you’ll be surprised by the heart of the city with its provençal village feel, which extends to the harbour. Monuments, busy squares, boutiques and art galleries, shaded streets and refreshing fountains will set the tempo of your trip. Let me guide you, I’ll take you with me to see a city of many identities and such a particular charm! Let’s go!
Toulon step by step: from the historical heart to the contemporary city
Our walk will start at the Tourist Office, Firstly, I just want to go on a little detour to see the mythical Mayol Stadium nearby, before starting the tour in the pedestrian zone. I’ll take a few pictures: the white façades of the stadium contrast well with the blue sky…
Then I go up the Cours Lafayette and go through its grand provençal market (it’s open every morning except Monday and it’s something you must visit if you don’t know Toulon!). On from the market, I’ll go down Paul Lendrin street. The Toulonnais just call it the “Petit Cours”. Here, you can find stalls run by local producers, pretty boutiques and nice little restaurants where you can dine on the terrace and in the shade, if you please 🙂
My walk will continue right in the middle of the medieval city, via the rue de la cathédrale. Don’t hesitate to give it a visit, you’ll be surprised by the blend of architectural styles!
I go up the la rue d’Alger (and resist the temptation of doing a bit of shopping …), I arrive at the Arts Quarter of rue Pierre Sémard. This new area of the old town has been refurbished and is dedicated to culture and art: you’ll find artisans, galleries, bars and coffee shops mingling together. I often go there and I love going out in the evening to have a drink with friends. It is an excellent place to hang out, either in the daytime or in the evening!
So now, off to place Puget: I feel like taking a bit of time off and having a coffee at a terrace. This square is decorated with a magnificent vegetalised fountain and surrounded with cafés and shops…it’s always busy. It is the the point where the historical part of the city joins the upper town.
Just next to this, is place Victor Hugo where the Toulon Opéra proudly sits. Here too, there is a lot going on with all the café terraces! Summer or Winter, people come to see concerts given on the esplanade, and if you listen carefully, you can sometimes hear the symphony orchestra practicing… It’s the ideal moment to take a photo of the edifice, surrounded with palm trees and a lovely sun.
Behind the opera, there is a change of decor: here we arrive at the Haussman style upper town, clear and well aired. Museums and elegant buildings mark out the main artery which takes me to the place de la Liberté and the façade of the Grand Hôtel. I always feel so small in the middle of all these imposing monuments and of all this space! A bit lower down, going towards the harbour, another large square: the place d’Armes. This is where big events are held all year round. And opposite, you will see the Corderie building and the Former Jesuit Seminary doorway.
A couple of minutes away, I arrive at the entrance to the Musée National de la Marine (National Naval Museum). I am met by a monumental doorway, in fact, it is the former main entry to the naval base, located just next to the museum!
Keeping on in the same direction, I finish my little tour via the harbour quays. Military boats share the harbour with “pointu” fishing boats and cruise ships.
From afar, I can see the statue of the Genie of Navigation pointing towards the sea and turning its back to the city (any idea why the Toulonnais call it Cuverville… ;-)) Behind the statue The Atlantes by the sculptor Pierre Puget seem to hold up the balcony of the Mairie d’Honneur.
Finally, I go past the boat companies on the quay: they offer guided visits of the harbour and the already seem to be getting a lot of business even at the end of the morning. If you would like to get to know the city better and take some great photos, I can’t recommend this tour enough! So just like me, discover Toulon step by step…