I’m in Toulon for a couple of weeks. The south of France is quite different from Vendee. It’s sunnier and warmer, for two things. I’m happy to be here in June, before it really gets hot.
Toulon is a big naval center and is used to rebuild older warships. It’s not pretty but I guess someone has to do it. It looks like this guy just arrived. As you can imagine it was heavily bombed in WWII. The Germans used the port, so they left things pretty much alone. The Allies bombed the port and oopsie, quite a few civilian buildings, right at the end of the war. These rather nice Hausmannien knockoffs were generally replaced by concrete, straight-up low-bid concrete.
There are some nicer areas, mainly outside the center of town. The top photo was taken from the terrace of the hillside house where I am staying. The beach is on the peninsula that sits opposite the main town. There are no bathers because there is no sand; this beach is all rocks. Apparently George Sand used to winter in a house on the opposite side of the peninsula — pre-bombardment, of course, so the city would have been more attractive. In any case back then the peninsula was an island. She probably never went into town.
This is one of the more pleasant corners of the city center. It’s old-school, with plazas and some actual character. This is perhaps the most welcoming part of the city. It has a daily market, little cafes, even, as you can see, a guy who will fix your guitar or violin for you, if you need that. Though I don’t have a photo here — I should take one to show you — once in a while you can see how gritty the town must have been, back when the navy was larger and the sailors were less health-minded than the ones I see here now. It’s enough to give you just a whiff of Pepe Le Moko.