Harbour Tour in Toulon
The first highlight in Toulon is the trip to the local mountain Mont Faron. The second, unforgettable highlight is the the harbour tour. Such harbour trips can be booked straight at the old harbour of the city. But the first trips do not take place until the afternoon. This is also the reason why I recommend to do the trip to the Mont Faron in the forenoon. A harbour tour takes a good hour and costs 5-10 €. But attention! Those who want to have the harbour tour for example at 02.00 p.m. should not be there just 5 minutes in advance but better access the boat half an hour before the tour starts.
The ships navigate in anticlockwise direction around the port basin. Those who get a seat at the right side will continuously have a perfect view to the land, the harbour and the ships. Those who arrive too late will have to sit at the left side and will have to look over the heads of the people in order to see the same attractions.
The harbour tours are really comprehensive. They pass a complete marina complex, then continue alongside the western basin, then they pass the civil southern harbour and finally return at the western part with a view to the submarine complexes. Specially the trip alongside the marina is very impressive, as one gets there the gorgeous ships of the French fleet presented like in a parade.
During the trip, there are numerous explanations made by the captain. The captain tells a story, the technical data and the significance of each single ship that is seen. Unfortunately, the whole speech is in French language. Thus, those who cannot understand French will rather be annoyed by the speech.
By looking at the first picture, one could think a small military ship would dock at a land deck. But in fact, one sees the figurehead of the French marine that is the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. The small corvette in the foreground is only positioned there in order to protect the aircraft carrier.
During the tour alongside the marina, one sees the fleet of Toulon in file. Another picture shows a destroyer with a huge panoramic radar (the big football on the ship).Then, some very mighty war ships follow: by looking at the frigates one can get really scared.
At the end of the marina there is a further aircraft carrier of the French Mediterranean fleet as also some submarines stationed. At the western part of the port basin there is the ship that is visible on the adjacent picture. It is a cable ship of the France Telekom. What the hell is a cable ship? As main load, this ship carries a cable of a length of hundreds of kilometres that is sunk in an interplay with similar ships in the Atlantic Ocean in order to generate some telecommunication channels between the American and the European continent. At the back part of the ship there is a big bobbin with which the cable is put into the ocean.
The harbour trip also leads one alongside
some civil terminals. The views to the fortifications Fort Balaguier and Fort de l'Evguilette are also fascinating. The trip ends at the western port basin, where one only sees some doubtful territories and basins where the French atomic submarines are sheltered.
The harbour tour of a little more than one hour should be done in any case if visiting Toulon. The views to each of the ships, the city and the mountains in the heartland are really fascinating and one discovers that the whole port basin is much bigger than it seems to be by looking at it from the coast.
Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz