The French Riviera is known for its bright aquamarine water and its ritzy resorts, which is why so many travelers flock to Cote d’Azur towns like Cannes and Nice every summer. Toulon, however, gets overlooked by many travelers, which makes it a quieter, more peaceful spot for a vacation along the Mediterranean. This underrated Provencal town still provides the charm and the beauty of the French Riviera, but without the throngs of tourists. So if you’re looking for a great summer vacation spot along the French Riviera, consider checking out the pretty port town of Toulon.
On a recent trip to the south of France, a few locals recommended that I visit the city of Toulon to get my beach fix. I followed their advice, and I am certainly glad I did. I fell in love with the easygoing atmosphere of Toulon, as well as its stunning natural scenery. Since my Toulon getaway was rather spur-of-the-moment, I needed to find a place to stay at the last-minute. Fortunately, I know that I can always count on HotelTonight to help me find great last-minute hotels in cities all over the world. Within minutes on HotelTonight’s website, I had booked a charming last-minute hotel in Toulon, and I was ready to see all that this French Riviera town had to offer.
Despite the fact that much of Toulon’s Old Town was damaged during World War II, this historic city center is still full of charm, history and beautiful old architecture. The Vieille Ville features quiet squares, narrow cobblestone streets and pretty buildings that will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a painting. I was lucky enough to stay at a hotel in Old Town Toulon, so every day I stepped outside I was surrounded by the charm and beauty of this historic district.
Toulon is home to one of the best Provencal markets in France, which means that you could taste delicious olives, cheeses, breads, meats and produce just like the locals. It’s no secret that the French hold their cuisine to a high standard, which is why the bustling local markets like Cours Lafayette are still so popular among the French to this day. Toulon locals would much rather get their food from the vendors at the local market, who offer incredibly fresh products, than at a grocery store. So when you’re in Toulon, do as the locals do and purchase your food at Cours Lafayette, a large market that is open every morning except for Mondays. Even if you don’t want to purchase any of the fresh fruits or savory cheeses at Cours Lafayette, you should still stroll through the market to see the colorful stalls and to smell the aromatic flowers for yourself.
It’s hard to visit Toulon without walking past its busy harbor, as the port is a major hub of activity in this French city. Toulon has been an important French military port since the 18th century, and you can learn about the rich history of this port when you walk past the imposing military ships and aircraft carriers. Today, locals enjoy the port because of its pretty seaside walk and its abundance of cafes and restaurants. So if you’re looking for a picture-perfect place to grab a drink and watch the sunset, you’ll definitely want to head to the port.
The Mourillon Village is really a village within the city of Toulon, and it’s one of my favorite areas in the French Riviera. This fishing village is beautiful and peaceful, and it has an Old World charm you can’t find many places today. Plus, nearby you will find some of the best beaches in the area, the Plages du Mourillon. These sheltered beaches are pretty and calm, and they’re great spots to sit back and relax after a long day of sightseeing.
If you’re looking to explore some of Toulon’s hidden gems, you’ll definitely want to head to Cap Brun. Here, the beaches are rugged and untouched, but they’re absolutely stunning. The striking blue water and rocky outcrops create a dramatic effect, and making the hike to one of these Cap Brun beaches may be one of your favorite memories of your time in Toulon. Even if you don’t want to spend a morning swimming in the warm, clear waters of Cap Brun, you should still consider hiking along the Cap Brun trails, where you will see one stunning view after another.
My stay in Toulon was short, but boy was it sweet. From the delicious Provencal food to the picturesque seaside promenade to the beautiful beaches, Toulon surprised me time and time again. I know that someday I will return to Toulon, and when I do I will rely on HotelTonight to help me find a great last-minute hotel in this charming French Riviera town.