Our second stop in France was the military port of Toulon. For book lovers and musical theatre fans, Toulon is where Jean Valjean was imprisoned in Les Miserables. We had a much more pleasant visit with a trip to the beach. Here is our first view of Toulon.
Our position on the in-room map.
We didn't book an excursion, but we did head to the excursion desk to have them help plan our day in Toulon. We gained two valuable pieces of advice that made our day a success. The first, was we were told to buy tickets for a ferry to take us into town. Using the ferry to cut across the harbor, saved about thirty minutes over taking a taxi. Plus, it's more fun to go by boat!
The second, was to take a ride on the little train, a shuttle that makes a loop around the city. The entire ride takes about forty minutes, with one stop at the beach.
I took a ton of snaps of the town as we rode on the little train. Toulon was less picturesque than Villefranche, but no less interesting.
The best named store. A little icky maybe, but it made me laugh.
And I found the Holy Grail in Europe = Iced Tea! Sure it's Lipton, but when I'm missing my iced tea, I'll settle.
We screwed up. We thought that the little train had two beach stops. We failed to hop off at the first and only stop. So we ended up riding a round trip and then walking about a mile back to the beach. This wasn't a huge deal, although it was starting to get hot and the kids ( adults too, but we kept positive), were not happy about having to walk. It was a grumpy trek to the Mourillon Beach, but once we got there, we knew that we had made the right decision.
Mourillon Beach was lovely. It was much nicer than the beaches that we have here in California. The beach and adjacent park, were both super clean and well maintained. The ocean water was clear and warm. The only downside, is that the beach was rocky, rather than soft sand, but we didn't let that get in the way of fun afternoon.
My favorite part of the beach was sunbathing and listening to all of the families near me, all speaking French. I didn't understand a word of it, but I loved eavesdropping and being removed from my own culture.
Before we left, we took a little walk on the rocks.
And some of Dan's panorama shots. I always love how these turn out.
Since we didn't hop off the train the first time around, we still had a return ticket to catch the train at the beach stop. After an afternoon playing in the sun, we were very relieved to not have to make the mile walk back to the ferry. If you do use the little train shuttle, my tip is to arrive early. Very few people got off at the beach stop, so we were lucky to grab seats. It seems like most people used the train for a tour of the city ( it was narrated in English), rather than as a shuttle for the beach. Also, just as we missed it the first time, the beach stop is a quick one. They don't hang around!
Toulon is a tourist destination and the city is working hard to be a welcoming destination. Everyone that we encountered, including the locals not working in tourism, were very friendly. On the ferry ride back, we were asked to fill out a survey.
We had a terrific time in Toulon. First rate!