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Toulon France French Destinations

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Toulon is not exactly the most attractive town on the Cote d'Azur but it is the most important naval base in France and the base for the French navy's Mediterranean fleet. Still, compared to nearby Marseille France > , Nice or Cannes, the centre looks like it came off the worst during WWII raids and seems to have done little to dress itself up since.

The history of Toulon is also bound up with that of the navy. It was founded as a Roman colony and became part of France in 1481. Henri IV set up an arsenal here and then Vauban enlarged the port in the 17th century. Napoleon Bonaparte helped to expel the English from Toulon during a siege in 1793, thereby making a name for himself before going on to greater things. Convicts were sent to Toulon to do hard labour during the Revolution or before being deported to the colonies in ships that left from the port

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There is not much to attract the tourist to Toulon in the way of museums as the Musée de Toulon's art and natural history collection is unexciting and rather dull. The Musée de la Marine in the old arsenal building fares slightly better, if only because the building itself is good looking. All in all, Toulon is a normal working town that just happens to be on the same bit of coast as several popular holiday destinations. Do not expect to find any of Cannes' glitz, St Tropez's glamour or Marseille's charm in this town.

If you do get stranded here, however, all is not lost. The town makes a refreshing change to the pretentious and overcrowded tourist centres of the other Cote d'Azur hotspots, and you can talk a long walk up to the Mont Faron overlooking the port if you get fed up of the town itself. The view does better justice to the town than the town itself, in fact. You can go on boat excursions around the rade, the quay lined bay, with a French commentary about WWII events, or on longer trips out to Cannes and St Tropez.

Hotels are so much cheaper than further along the coast it almost makes sense to stay in Toulon and commute to the beaches. The central Little Palace at 6 8 rue Berthelot (04 94 92 26 62) has rooms from €40 55 and the Hôtel des Allées, 18 allées Amiral Courbet (04 94 91 10 02) has rooms for under €30.