Toulon and Hyères: History & Design

Located 60 kilometres east of Marseille, Toulon boasts a sun-drenched bay, beautiful beaches, and a rich history. While you’re in the area, don’t miss a visit to Hyères, with its enchanting stretches of wild beaches and a colourful hilltop historic quarter where many artists have set up shop.


A lively and vibrant town

Nestling at the foot of Mont Faron, rising to a height of 584 metres, Toulon is divided into two parts: a modern quarter to the north and historic quarter to the south. The city is famed for its ancient little squares, buzzing food market on Cours Lafayette, and many old fountains. In the town centre, you’ll come across the impressive Fontaine de la Fédération created by the sculptor Allar in 1889 for the centenary of the Republic. On Quai Cronstadt, set facing the Med, boutiques and cafés attract morning and evening strollers alike. From here, you can embark on a boat tour of the vast and stunning bay, home to many reminders of the town’s ancient military vocation and an impressive naval base.

The Essential Provence markets

The Bay of Toulon

And its many facets

With its azure-blue waters reflecting the sun’s dazzling rays, the Bay of Toulon, lined with cream and orange buildings, offers a captivating sight. To the east, the bay expands into four sand and shingle beaches coveted by bathers: the pretty Plages du Mourillon. If you carry on walking along the ancient « Sentier des Douaniers«  coastal footpath starting at the Tour Royale, you’ll come to the picturesque coves of Méjean and Magaud. Originally used by customs officers to survey the coast, this tree-lined footpath crosses Fort Saint-Louis and its charming little port and winds its way through a multitude of creeks lapped by translucent waters. It offers stunning views over the bay, Giens peninsula and the Îles d’Or off the coast of Hyères.

A military town

Designed by Colbert

The story dates back several centuries. The construction of the Darse Vielle (inner harbour) began under the reign of Henri IV. A shipyard was built there, dedicated to building and repairing the royal fleet. Delivered to the British enemy by Royalists in 1793, Toulon was also witness to the first military feats of an as-yet unknown captain… A certain Napoleon Bonaparte. Until the 19th century, Toulon was also the departure and arrival port for colonial and military expeditions to the African continent. Today, many monuments stand witness to the town’s military history: the 16th-century Tour Royale, Place d’Armes designed by Colbert for the inspection of the troops, Musée de la Marine and Musée-Mémorial du Débarquement de Provence (Allied Landings Memorial). Set on the top of Mont Faron, you will come to the memorial as you step off the mountain’s cable car.

Toulon Tourist Office
Méditerranée – Bureau de Toulon
12, place Louis Blanc
83000 – Toulon
+ 33 (0)4 94 18 53 00


Palm trees, beaches, and arty spots

Situated less than 20 kilometres to the East of Toulon, Hyères, reputed for its palm trees, is home to an impressive 20 kilometres of sandy shores, including the breathtaking beaches of the Giens Peninsula. Plage de l’Almanarre beach is a paradise for surf sports lovers. The old town is also well worth a visit: perched on a hill overlooking a ruined medieval castle, it forms a maze of lanes lined with colourful old houses. Sun-drenched fruit stalls and bougainvillea – the atmosphere here is resolutely Provencal. And creative too: many decorators, artists and fashion designers have set up shop in Hyères. If you’re a modern art buff, head to the Villa Noailles, a meeting place for avant-garde artists since the 1920s.

Culture & heritage

Hyères Tourist Office
Rotonde du Park Hôtel
16 avenue de Belgique
83400 Hyères
+33 (0)4 94 01 84 50