Prefecture and commune
|Canton||Toulon-1, 2, 3 and 4|
|Intercommunality||Métropole Toulon Provence Méditerranée|
|• Mayor (2020–2026)||Hubert Falco|
|42.84 km2 (16.54 sq mi)|
|• Density||4,200/km2 (11,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||0–589 m (0–1,932 ft) |
(avg. 1 m or 3.3 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
The Commune of Toulon has a population of 176,198 people (2018), making it France's 13th-largest city. It is the centre of an urban unit with 580,281 inhabitants (2018), the ninth largest in France. Toulon is the third-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille and Nice.
Toulon is an important centre for naval construction, fishing, wine making, and the manufacture of aeronautical equipment, armaments, maps, paper, tobacco, printing, shoes, and electronic equipment.
Prehistory to the Roman era
Archaeological excavations, such as those at the
In the 2nd century BC, the residents of Massalia (present-day Marseille) called upon the
Arrival of Christianity and the Counts of Provence
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2019)
Toulon was Christianized in the 5th century, and the first cathedral built.
Royal port (15th–18th centuries)
In 1486, Provence became part of France. Soon afterwards, in 1494, Charles VIII of France, with the intention of making France a sea power on the Mediterranean, and to support his military campaign in Italy, began constructing a military port at the harbor of Toulon. His Italian campaign failed, and in 1497, the rulers of Genoa, who controlled commerce on that part of the Mediterranean, blockaded the new port.
In 1524, as part of his longtime battle against Emperor Charles V and the Holy Roman Empire, King François I of France completed a powerful new fort, the Tour Royale, Toulon, at the entrance of the harbour. However, a few months later the commander of the new fort sold it to the commander of an Army of the Holy Roman Empire, and Toulon surrendered.
In 1543, Francis I found a surprising new ally in his battle against the Holy Roman Empire. He invited the fleet of
In 1646, a fleet was gathered in Toulon for the major Battle of Orbetello, also known as the Battle of Isola del Giglio, commanded by France's first Grand Admiral, the young Grand Admiral Marquis of Brézé, Jean Armand de Maillé-Bréze of 36 galleons, 20 galleys, and a large complement of minor vessels. This fleet carried aboard an army of 8,000 infantry and 800 cavalry and its baggage under Thomas of Savoy, shortly before a general in Spanish service.
In 1790, following the
In 1820, the statue which became known as the Venus de Milo was discovered on the Greek island of Milo and seen by a French naval officer, Emile Voutier. He persuaded the French Ambassador to Turkey to buy it, and brought it to Toulon on his ship, the Estafette. From Toulon it was taken to the Louvre.
1849, during the brief Second French Republic, Georges-Eugène Haussmann was named Prefect of the Var. During his year as prefect, he began a major reconstruction of the city, similar to what he would later do in Paris. He tore down large parts of the old fortifications and built new boulevards and squares. The new Toulon Opera House, the second-largest in France, opened in 1862.
In 1867, on the orders of Napoleon III General François Achille Bazaine arrived in Toulon without an official welcome after abandoning the Mexican military campaign and Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico.
In August 1935, a year before the reign of the Popular Front, violent uprisings of the workers of the Toulon shipyards opposed the policy of austerity. This resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries; a state of emergency was imposed.
During World War II, after the
In 1974, Toulon became again the préfecture, or administrative centre, of the Var.[
The old town of Toulon, the historic centre between the port, the Boulevard de Strasbourg and the Cours Lafayette, is a pedestrian area with narrow streets, small squares and many fountains. Toulon Cathedral is there. The area is also home of the celebrated Provençal market, which takes place every morning on the Cours Lafayette and features local products. The old town decayed in the 1980s and 1990s, but recently many of the fountains and squares have been restored and many new shops have opened.
Fountains of Old Toulon
Fontaine du Dauphin, Place Paul Comte. The fountain, on the wall of the Bishop's residence, appears in the drawings of Toulon made for Louis XIV in 1668.
Fontaine des Trois Dauphins, Place Puget (1782)
Fontaine de l'Intendance, Place Amiral Sénès, (1821)
The Fontaine-Lavoir de Saint-Vincent, Place Saint-Vincent (1832), replaced the original fountain built in 1615. It had a fountain for drinking water and two basins, for washing clothes, one for washing and one for rinsing.
View of downtown Toulon and Mediterranean Sea from Mount Faron
The Old Town of Toulon is known for its fountains, found in many of the small squares, each with a different character. The original system of fountains was built in the late 17th century; most were rebuilt in the 18th or early 19th century and have recently been restored.
Upper Town of Georges-Eugène Haussmann
The upper town, between the Boulevard de Strasbourg and the railway station, was built in the mid-19th century under
Harbour and Arsenal
Toulon harbour is one of the best natural anchorages on the Mediterranean and one of the largest harbours in Europe. A naval arsenal and shipyard was built in 1599, and a small sheltered harbour, the Veille Darse, was built in 1604–1610 to protect ships from the wind and sea. The shipyard was greatly enlarged by
Le Mourillon is a small seaside neighbourhood to the east of Toulon, near the entrance of the harbour. It was once a fishing village, and then became the home of many of the officers of the French fleet. Mourillon has a small fishing port, next to a 16th-century fort, Fort Saint Louis, which was reconstructed by Vauban. In the 1970s the city of Toulon built a series of sheltered sandy beaches in Mourillon, which today are very popular with the Toulonais and naval families. The Museum of Asian Art is in a house on the waterfront near Fort St. Louis.
Mount Faron (584 metres (1,916 feet)) dominates the city of Toulon. The top can be reached by cable car from Toulon or by a narrow, terrifying road that ascends from the west side and descends on the east side. The road is one of the most challenging stages of the annual
At the top of Mount Faron is a memorial dedicated to the 1944 Allied landings in Provence (Operation Dragoon), and to the liberation of Toulon.
Beginning in 1678,
Toulon has a number of museums.
The Museum of the French Navy (Musée national de la marine) is located on Place Monsenergue, next on the west side of the old port, a short distance from the Hotel de Ville. The museum was founded in 1814, during the reign of the Emperor Napoleon. It is located today behind what was formerly the monumental gate to the Arsenal of Toulon, built in 1738. The museum building, along with the clock tower next to it, is one of the few buildings of the port and arsenal which survived Allied bombardments during World War II. It contains displays tracing the history of Toulon as a port of the
The Museum of Old Toulon and its Region (Musée du vieux Toulon et de sa région). The Museum was founded in 1912, and contains a collection of maps, paintings, drawings, models and other artifacts showing the history of the city.
The Museum of Asian Arts (Musée des arts asiatiques), in Mourillon. Located in a house with garden which once belonged to the son and later the grandson of author Jules Verne, the museum contains a small but interesting collection of art objects, many donated by naval officers from the time of the French colonization of Southeast Asia. It includes objects and paintings from India, China, Southeast Asia, China Tibet and Japan.
The Museum of Art (Musée d'art) was created in 1888, and contains collections of modern and contemporary art, as well as paintings of Provence from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century. It owns works by landscape artists of Provence from the late 19th century (
The Memorial Museum to the Landings in Provence (Mémorial du débarquement de Provence) is located on the summit of Mount Faron, this small museum, opened in 1964 by President
The Museum of Natural History of Toulon and the Var (Musée d'histoire naturelle de Toulon et du Var) was founded in 1888, has a large collection of displays about dinosaurs, birds, mammals, and minerals, mostly from the region.
The Hôtel des arts was opened in 1998, presents five exhibits a year of works by well-known contemporary artists. Featured artists have included Sean Scully, Jannis Kounellis, Claude Viallat, Per Kirkeby, and Vik Muniz.
Other points of interest
Toulon is subtropical, featuring a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), characterised by abundant and strong sunshine, dry summers, and rain which is rare but sometimes torrential; and by hot summers and mild winters. Because of its proximity to the sea, the temperature is relatively moderate.
The average temperature in January, the coldest month, is 9.3 °C (49 °F), the warmest of any city in metropolitan France. In January the maximum average temperature is 12.7 °C (55 °F). and the average minimum temperature is 5.8 °C (42 °F).
The average temperature in July, the warmest month, is 23.9 °C (75 °F), with an average maximum of 29.1 °C (84 °F). and an average minimal temperature of 18.8 °C (66 °F).
According to data collected by Météo-France, Toulon is the city in metropolitan France with the most sunshine per year: an average of 2,856 hours a year from 1999 to 2008, compared with 2,695 hours a year for Nice and 2,472 hours for Perpignan. This is due to the wall of mountains that largely protects Toulon from the weather coming from north. With an yearly average temperature of 16.2 °C (61 °F), it is also one of the warmest cities in metropolitan France.
Average rainfall is 665 millimetres per year. The driest month is July with 6.6 mm (0.26 in), and the wettest is October, with 93.9 mm (3.70 in). It rains on less than 60 days per year (an average of 59.7 days) and the amount of precipitation is very unequal in the different seasons. In February, the month with the most rain, it rains 7.1 days, but with only 88.3 millimetres (3.48 inches) of rain, while in October there are 5.9 days of rain. July, with 1.3 days of rain, is usually the driest month, but the driest month can fall anywhere between May and September. Autumn is characterized by torrential but brief rains; in winter there is more precipitation, spread out over longer periods.
Because of the proximity to the sea, freezing temperatures are rare; an average of 2.9 days a year, and lasting frosts (when the maximum temperature remains less or equal to zero) are non-existent. Snow is also very rare (barely 1.5 days per year on average) and it is even more rare for the snow to last during the day (0.3 days a year on average).
One distinctive feature of the Toulon climate is the wind, with 115 days a year of strong winds; usually either the cold and dry Mistral or the Tramontane from the north, the wet Marin; or the Sirocco sometimes bearing reddish sand from Africa; or the wet and stormy Levant from the east. (See Winds of Provence.) The windiest month is January, with an average of 12.5 days of strong winds. The least windy month is September, with 7 days of strong winds. In winter, the Mistral can make the air feel extremely cold, even though the temperature is mild.
The climate is dry and the humidity in Toulon is usually low. The average humidity is 56 percent, with little variation throughout the year; the driest months are July and August with 50 percent, and the most humid months are November and December with 60 percent.
|Climate data for Toulon (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1936–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||20.9
|Average high °C (°F)||13.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||9.9
|Average low °C (°F)||6.6
|Record low °C (°F)||−7.2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||70.5
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||6.0||5.6||4.8||6.0||4.3||2.7||0.9||1.6||4.5||6.8||7.9||6.3||57.5|
|Average snowy days||0.6||0.3||0.2||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.4||1.5|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||155.8||171.5||227.8||244.8||286.9||328.6||367.3||334.3||261.2||191.6||149.7||134.6||2,854.1|
|Source 1: |
|Source 2: Meteo climat (sun 1981–2010), Infoclimat.fr (humidity and snowy days 1961–1990)|
|Source: EHESS and INSEE (1968–2017)|
Toulon has a
Toulon figures prominently in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. It is the location of the infamous prison, the bagne of Toulon, in which the protagonist Jean Valjean spends nineteen years in hard labour. Toulon is also the birthplace of the novel's antagonist, Javert. One portion of the wall of the old bagne, or prison, where Jean Valjean was supposedly held still stands to the right of the entrance of the Old Harbour.
In Anthony Powell's novel What's Become of Waring the central characters spend a long summer holiday in Toulon's old town. Powell himself stayed at the Hotel du Port et des Negociants on two occasions in the early 1930s and writes in the second volume of his memoirs The naval port, with its small inner harbour, row of cafés along the rade, was quite separate from the business quarter of the town. A paddle steamer plied several times a day between this roadstead and the agreeably unsophisticated plage of Les Sablettes.
The last half of
Toulon is served by the
Local food highlights include:
- cuisine from the Mediterranean and from Provence
- the cade toulonnaise, a local speciality composed of chickpea flour and which is equivalent to the Soccaof Nice
- the Chichi Frégi, a type of donut from Provence.
- Smash Sandwiches, a common sandwich available from street vendors throughout Toulon.
The most successful of the city's clubs are the
The city hosts the final four of the annual
Toulon's main football team is
|Rugby union||Top 14||Stade Mayol|
Toulon St-Cyr Var Handball
|Championnat de France de handball féminin|
Palais des Sports
Hyères-Toulon Var Basket
|Basketball||LNB Pro A|
Palais des Sports and Espace 3000
Sporting Club Toulon
|Football||Championnat National||Stade de Bon Rencontre|
|Sporting Treiziste Toulonnais||Rugby league||National Division 1||Stade Delaune|
Toulon is the birthplace of:
- Gilbert Bécaud (1927–2001), singer
- Boris Bede (born 1989), gridiron football player
- Jean Blondel (born 1929), political scientist
- Jacques Borsarello (born 1951), violist
- Robert Busnel (1914–1991), basketball player
- Capucine, actress
- François Étienne Victor de Clinchamp (1787–1880), painter and author
- Émile Colonne (1885–1990), operatic baritone
- Lúcio Costa (1902–1998), architect and urban planner
- Mireille Darc (1938–2017), actress
- Kaba Diawara (born 1975), footballer
- Laurent Emmanuelli (born 1976), rugby union prop, returning to play for RC Toulon in 2009–10
- Matar Fall (born 1982), footballer
- Henri Ghys (1839–1908), composer and pianist
- Anne Golon (1921–2017), author, wrote a series of novels about a heroine Angélique
- Josuha Guilavogui, footballer
- aeronautical engineer, test pilotand writer
- Loïc Jean-Albert (born 1978), expert parachuter
- Maryse Joissains-Masini (born 1942), Mayor of Aix-en-Provence
- Jacques Le Goff (1924–2014), historian
- Ève Lavallière (1866–1929), stage actress
- Félix Mayol (1972–1941), singer and entertainer, and namesake of RC Toulon's stadium
- Alain Mucchielli (born 1947), physician
- Sabine Paturel (born 1965), singer and actress
- Gabriel Péri (1902–1941), journalist and politician
- LiLi Roquelin, singer-songwriter
- Raimu (1883–1946), actor
- Brigitte Roüan (born 1946), film director and actress
- Cyril Saulnier (born 1975), tennis player
- Sébastien Squillaci (born 1980), French International footballer
- Didier Tarquin (born 1967), cartoonist and scenarist
- Charles Thanaron (1809–1886), capitaine de frégate in the French Navy, member of the Dumont d'Urville second expedition
- Jean Tournier (1926–2004), cinematographer
- Joëlle Wintrebert (born 1949), writer
- Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon – Port Royal (1481–1789). Tallandier: Paris, 2002.
- Aldo Bastié, Histoire de la Provence, Éditions Ouest-France, 2001.
- Cyrille Roumagnac, L'Arsenal de Toulon et la Royale, Éditions Alan Sutton, 2001
- Jean-Pierre Thiollet, Le Chevallier à découvert, Paris, Laurens, 1998
- Maurice Arreckx, Vivre sa ville, Paris, La Table ronde, 1982; Toulon, ma passion, 1985
- "Répertoire national des élus: les maires" (in French). data.gouv.fr, Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises. 13 September 2022.
- "Populations légales 2020". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 29 December 2022.
- "Toulon". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
- "Toulon". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
- "Toulon" Archived 27 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine (US) and "Toulon". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020.
- "Toulon". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
- Comparateur de territoire: Unité urbaine 2020 de Toulon (00757), Commune de Toulon (83137), INSEE, retrieved 16 June 2022.
- Aldo Bastié, Historie de la Provence, Éditions Ouest-France, 2001.
- A legend which states that a certain Cleon accompanied St. Lazarus to Gaul and was the founder of the Church of Toulon, is based on a 14th-century forgery that was ascribed to a 6th-century bishop named Didier.
- "Horatio Lord Nelson Signed Document Toulon Court Martial | Raab". The Raab Collection. 31 July 1803. Retrieved 7 July 2023.
- Cyrille Roumagnac, L'Arsenal de Toulon et la Royale. p. 43
- Toulon disorders Archived 4 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine New York Times 9 August 1935 (archive). Retrieved 24 November 2019.
- for the history of the Old Town, see Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon – Port Royal (1481–1789). Tallandier: Paris, 2002.
- André-Jean Tardy, Fontaines Toulonnaises, Les Editions de la Nerthe, Toulon, 2001.
- Haussmann was only prefect of the Var for one year, but the prototypes for boulevards, apartment buildings and parks he built in Paris were copied in many large French cities.
- Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon – Port Royal (1481–1789. Tallandier: Paris, 2002.
- Michel Vergé-Franceschi, Toulon – Port Royal (1481–1789). Tallandier: Paris, 2002.
- See the page about the Museum on the official site of the Museums of the Var Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine (in French)
- See the site of the Museums of Toulon on the Toulon City Web Site (in French) Archived 10 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- Lameteo.org comparative climate statistics for cities of France. See also: http://climat.meteofrance.com Archived 27 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- "Toulon (83)" (PDF). Fiche Climatologique: Statistiques 1991–2020 et records (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
- "Moyennes 1981/2010: Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur" (in French). Météoclimat. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- "STATION Toulon" (in French). Météoclimat. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- "Normes et records 1961–1990: Toulon – La Mitre (83) – altitude 24m" (in French). Infoclimat. Archived from the original on 8 October 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet Toulon, EHESS (in French).
- Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
- "Jumelages: Toulon et ses villes jumelées" (in French). Mairie d'honneur de Toulon. 21 October 2014. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "Partner und Freundesstädte". Stadt Mannheim (in German). Archived from the original on 8 November 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- Toulon travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Toulon : between military tradition and touristic modernity – Official French website (in English)
- Official website
- The Tourism Office of Toulon web site