South Of France Travel Guide 2015 Part 1
There is a time in your life when all your friends seem to be getting married, nowadays there are a lot of destination weddings and is a perfect excuse for a holiday as well as being there for your friend’s big day. This year I travelled to Toulon on the beautiful South of France coast with a bunch of friends for one of my dearest friend’s wedding. I have been to this part of France before however this time we stayed in a different location and did very different things and I wanted to share with you what I did on my trip with some tips:
Accommodation – Since there was a large group of us options were limited to where we could stay with so many of us. However, we were able to find this characteristic french villa complete with private swimming pool, bar area, large BBQ and enough bedrooms to hold 14 people comfortably. Situated in La Garde which is not far from Toulon airport we flew straight from City Airport to Toulon late on Friday night to make the most of our weekend. A couple of things to check when you book a villa:
- Make sure that sheets and towels are included. I know it is a silly thing but we were offered the option of sheets for an additional cost which meant we had to bring our own with us.
- Bring or buy loads of bug spray – we were caught out as there were loads of mosquitos around and if you want to sit outside at night and enjoy al fresco dining then bug spray and bug incense is a definite must, you’ll thank me later.
- Have the option to pay for a cleaner to come and clean the properly for you after you leave don’t think that you want to spend your holiday cleaning, we had this option and it was great.
Hidden Beaches – The beauty of staying in random places in France is discovering beaches or places to hang out, catch some sun and go swimming in the sea. A short walk from our accommodation was two beaches, one sand and one we were told was ‘rocky’. So one free morning we decided to venture down and see how rocky a beach could be. We walked off the main road through alleys in-between a small little cluster of houses all around this concrete jetty where people were jumping off, sunbathing and boating off of.
What a little gem of a place and probably not somewhere in the guide books or somewhere we would have found if we were not staying in our accomodation. Always find out where the local beach is to where you stay, you might uncover a gem of a beach / concrete platform to hang out at.
If the beach is rocky then I would suggest bringing some swimming shoes or shoes with thick soles, it was a little painful on the soles of your feet, but that wasn’t a deterrent and that morning we felt like we hit the jackpot.
Toulon port – Toulon is a city unlike everywhere I had been in the south of France previously, I never expected Toulon to be so built up and have lots of things going on.
The port itself is a large stretch along the water with lots of boat taxis going to neighbouring islands such as Porquerolles and Prot Cros which are beautiful islands with clear blue water which is perfect for a day trip.
The port itself is also a major French naval base with a naval museum at one end, there are several shops selling souvenirs and plenty of restaurants to grab a bite or a drink lining the rest of the sea line.
We didn’t eat at any of these places as we were a little convinced that most of these places are catering for mainly tourists and we wanted something more authentic, however it was a great place to stop and have a look at some souvenirs and a cold drink while watching the boats come in and out.
Toulon market – The main street leading down to the port in Toulon is turned into a bustling market everyday except Monday, selling fresh fruit, vegetables and provencial produce such as soap, lavender or woven basket bags which I bought to bring home for friends and family. The street is hustling and bustling with people and the incredible sights and smells make French markets one of my favourite in the world.
Don’t ignore the stores on either side of the market as they are usually only open when the market is in full swing and they have some great produce. I bought my woven basket bags in a small shop on the side of the market as there was more choice then in the market and she gave me a good price, so don’t always assume that you get the best price on the market stalls.
Cable car to Mont Faron / Toulon war memorial – One of the highlights of going to Toulon we were told was the large cable car ride which travels to the highest point overlooking the town where there is a zoo and a war memorial.
At the time of our visit the cable car was under maintenance and not running however we decided to make the long winding journey up to see some incredible views and whatever was up there. The war memorial is in an old war building with lots of old war artefacts, it isn’t big and you have to pay a small entry fee to help up keep the site however it did provide some amazing vantage points.
We then settled in a cafe outside to have a cold drink before taking the long winding journey back down hill.
For more information about the town of Toulon visit the Toulon official tourism website
or visit them in Toulon town centre, the staff are really friendly and have some great ideas for days out if you haven’t planned anything.
Have you been to Toulon or anywhere in the South of France? Let me know where you visited while you were in the area and what you did. – Part 2 of the South of France Guide is coming very soon stay tuned.