Toulon is mostly famous for its major naval base, and its talented rugby team. But more than that, it’s also a stunning city set on the French Riviera. Often overlooked by tourists who prefer visiting Cannes or Nice, Toulon is a great place to explore if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination on the Côte d’Azur. Below, you’ll find tips on things to see and do in Toulon, including the best streets and sights to visit in the old town.
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How to get to Toulon
Whether you’re traveling by train, plane or bus, Toulon is very easily accessible from many cities in France and Europe.
Toulon has its own airport, and even though it’s pretty small, there are international flights arriving there. You can fly from Rotterdam, Southampton or Brussels to Toulon. If you’re already in France, you can fly from Paris, Lille or Strasbourg.
If you don’t fancy taking the plane, I definitely recommend taking the train to Toulon. From Paris, it’s only a 4 hours journey. On top of that, the train station is very close to the old town, so you wouldn’t need a car to reach all the main tourist attractions.
Another great way to travel to Toulon is to take the bus. Flix Bus offers daily connections from cities like Bordeaux, Perpignan or Lyon for a very affordable price. You can check out all the connections and destinations on their website.
You can also get to Toulon by car, but this is not an option I recommend if you’re coming from Paris. Indeed, it would take approximately 8 hours to drive from Paris to Toulon, and you’d have to take the highway, on which there are very expensive tolls. However, if you wanted to drive, you’d have to follow highway A6 to Lyon before heading to the A52 going to Toulon. But know that it’s cheaper to fly or take the bus than drive yourself.
Map of Toulon
To make it easier for you, I made a map of Toulon with all the best streets and sights I’m recommending in this post. Before I start, I just want to specify that this walking itinerary is about visiting the old town of Toulon. There are many things to see and do outside of the old town, but for this post, I wanted to focus on the attractions in the Vieux Toulon, and the harbor area. Each number represents a place you should visit on your trip to Toulon in no specific order.
- Rue d’Alger
- Place Puget
- Cours Lafayette
- Rue Pierre Semard
- Place de l’Equerre
- Place de la Liberté
- Opera House
- Kiosques à Livres
- Boat Sculpture
- Musée de la Marine
- Maison de la Photographie
- Place Raimu
5 streets you can’t miss in Toulon
Toulon doesn’t have a big city center, so you can easily spend a day walking around the old town. It was hard to choose only five streets, but I chose the ones I feel represent the city best. So, here are five streets you must visit in the old town.
Rue d’Alger is the most famous street in Toulon. It goes from Place Puget to the harbor and is home to hundreds of shops. Whether you want to shop for new clothes, unique jewelry, shoes or souvenirs, you’ll surely find something on Rue d’Alger.
Head to Place Puget where you can grab lunch or stop for coffee in one of the many restaurants and bars. Here you’ll also see the Trois Dauphins fountain, a beautiful fountain covered in moss and leaves.
The iconic Cours Lafayette, where the Provencal market is held every morning, is located right across the street from the harbor. The market is full of colorful fruits and vegetables and is definitely a must-see if you’re visiting Toulon.
Rue Pierre Semard, also called Rue des Arts, is located in ‘Le Petit Chicago’. This district gave Toulon a bad reputation for a long time. Indeed, ‘Chicago’ was sailors favorite place to visit at night because of its many bars. Today, Rue Pierre Semard is bustling with art galleries and artisan shops. It has become one of the most pleasant streets of Toulon.
Recently refurbished, Place de L’equerre is home to some of the best bars in the city. Also, there are often events and concerts held on Place de l’Equerre during summer.
Things to see and do in Toulon
Place de la liberté
Place de la Liberté (Freedom Square) is by far the most beautiful square in Toulon. Located upper town, the place has a stunning fountain (Fontaine de la Fédération) which is a symbol of force and justice. It also has its own version of the Statue of Liberty. Behind the fountain is one of the most iconic buildings of Toulon, the Grand Hôtel. Built in 1870, this stunning building is now home to a theater.
With its 1797 seats, The opera of Toulon is the second-largest opera house in France. Built in 1862, the opera house is one of the most beautiful buildings in Toulon. I definitely recommend going to one of the performances held there, just so you can see the inside of this amazing place.
Kiosque à Livres
Toulon is home to a couple of typical bookstands where you’ll find a large selection of rare books, old postcards, and even music albums. It’s so typical of the city, I think it’s a great place to visit as a tourist. You’ll be impressed by all the (very) old books and treasures of these shops. These bookstands are located Rue Prosper Ferrero.
Located right in the center of old Toulon, the boat sculpture on Place Vatel is a stunning piece of art. This huge sculpture, placed against a building, is quite unusual. Don’t miss it when you visit the old town.
Musée de la Marine
Located in the arsenal gatehouse, the Musée de la Marine displays French naval history from the 17th century to the present day. The museum has a good selection of exhibits, and the entry fee is only 6,50€ for adults.
The harbor of Toulon is very popular for many reasons. Here, you’ll find stunning boats, including fishing boats and naval ships, but also some of the best restaurants in town, and cute souvenir shops. Also, you’ll see the beautiful statue of the Genie de la Navigation.
The harbor is also the starting point of the little tourist trains of Toulon that offer guided sightseeing tours around the city. The trains even go to the Mourillon beach.
Maison de la Photographie
If you’re a photography lover, then head to the Maison de la Photographie, located right in the city center. The place offers different exhibits with pictures from local artists, and you can enter for free.
Place Raimu is famous for the statue of the card game between Raimu and Panisse. You can even sit at the table with them, and take your picture.
Where to shop in Toulon
Toulon is home to an array of small shops, especially in the city center. You’ll find famous brands such as Etam or Foot Locker, bu also smaller shops selling traditional French items. Below, I’ve listed a few shops that are great for buying souvenirs or local products in Toulon.
You will find Galeries Lafayette almost everywhere in France, including in Toulon. Galeries Lafayette is a great department store which offers French and European items at a reasonable price. If you’re looking for quality French clothes, bags and accessories, I definitely recommend visiting this store.
Address: 9 Boulevard de Strasbourg
Le Comptoir de Mathilde
Le Comptoir de Mathilde is a French artisan shop and is the best place in Toulon to buy delicious chocolates and candies. They are very famous for their chocolate spread, so do try it out when you go to Le Comptoir de Mathilde.
Address: 2 Place Camille Ledeau
Comptoir des Fromages
Comptoir des Fromages is the best place in town for cheese lovers. This small shop offers great quality cheese, but also wine and cured meats. A place not to miss if you’re looking for local products from Provence.
Address: 5 Rue de la Paix
Where to stay in Toulon
Toulon is a great city which is best explored in 2-3 days. So, if you decide to stay for a couple of nights in the city, here are a few hotels I recommend checking out.
Hotel Amirauté is a modern hotel located near Place de la Liberté. The hotel offers clean rooms, each of them equipped with satellite TV and a work desk. With its helpful staff, 24-hour reception and buffet breakfast in the morning, Hotel Amirauté is great value for money in Toulon. If you’re looking for a cozy place to stay, Hotel Amirauté is your choice.
Grand Hotel Dauphiné
Grand Hotel Dauphiné is my favorite hotel in Toulon. With its central location, buffet breakfast with local products and rooftop pool, this hotel is your best choice for a relaxing stay in Toulon. Additionally, the hotel offers modern and clean rooms with air conditioning and free wifi. Best of all, Grand Hotel Dauphiné is affordable and pet-friendly.
Grand Hotel De La Gare
Grand Hotel de la Gare is only a couple of minutes walk from Toulon central train and bus stations. This hotel offers free wifi access and satellite TV in all rooms, and the friendly staff will do everything they can to make your stay comfortable. Additionally, you can get a very good breakfast served with organic produce for an extra fee.
Located only a couple of minutes walk from the harbor and arsenal, Hotel Bonaparte is a good mid-range hotel. With its beautifully decorated rooms, free wifi, and buffet breakfast, this hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay in Toulon. On top of that, some rooms have a beautiful view of the arsenal.
Where to eat in Toulon
French food is well-known for being amazing. And in Toulon, there is a large choice of restaurants, most of them offering delicious Mediterranean food. Below, you’ll find a short list of restaurants I love visiting when I’m in Toulon.
Le Bistrot du Boucan
Le Bistrot du Boucan is a very popular restaurant in Toulon, especially among the locals. With its delicious food, friendly staff, and beautiful decor, this bistrot is very charming. All the meals on the menu are made fresh, and the prices are more than affordable. Don’t miss this little gem when visiting Toulon.
Tables et Comptoir
Tables et Comptoir is a cozy restaurant located in the Mourillon district. This small restaurant offers French gourmet cuisine and is the perfect place for a romantic dinner. To be honest, this restaurant is quite pricey, but if you love good quality food, it’s well worth it.
Les Tables de la Fontaine
This quirky little restaurant is located right in the heart of Toulon. With its top-quality food, friendly staff and cozy atmosphere, Les Tables de la Fontaine is definitely one of the best restaurants in Toulon. On top of that, they cater to vegetarians and bake their own bread.
Toulon is my hometown, and I definitely recommend visiting it if you’re planning a trip to the French Riviera. With its beautiful harbor, fabulous Mediterranean market and cute traditional shops, you’ll have a great time exploring this town full of history. Have you ever been to Toulon? Let me know in the comments below!
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