Toulon: a town resolutely turned towards the future
An hour from Paris by plane, and the link between Corsica and the mainland, Toulon offers an abundance of cultural and sporting riches.
The historic city of Toulon has been a strategic Mediterranean port of call for millennia. Ideally placed at the foot of Mount Faron, and nestled against the most beautiful harbour in all of Europe, it is typically Provencal, and loaded with charm. The atmosphere is ever cheerful, the smiles of its citizens omnipresent. Recent renovations are of the highest order: ancient elements have been beautifully preserved, echoed now by modern facilities adapted to the ambitions of a city that seeks to set a shining example for the future.
Toulon is above all an important maritime centre and naval base. The area around the bay is unique a mix of old buildings and the architectural modernism of Le Corbusier. The aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the flagship of the French fleet, can often be spotted on the horizon, along with cruise ships as tall as skyscrapers.
Old Toulon, with its fountain and olive trees, is wonderfully Provencal. Stroll the pedestrian areas of downtown, which is filled with large squares and shady streets. Take refuge in a pretty little church. The market, the bustling heart of the city, is a marvel of citrus baskets, and the southern accent is a delight to the ears. Here and there you can taste the harvest of small producers, who display mountains of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
In old Toulon, many cultural tours are offered. The Maritime and Beaux-Arts museums are well worth a visit, and the contemporary art agenda is stimulating and varied.
Staying in Toulon for a few days, one has to take time and experience the sweet life of Mourillon. A village in the city, this area consists of lovely houses from the 1930s, vintage shops and fashion boutiques, endless stretches of beaches, and bike paths that will take you far, far away... all the way to Hyeres, for the more adventurous!
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