Med Cruise: Day 6 – Toulon

I would find it very difficult to visit somewhere without having done some basic research into it.  I was amazed reading some reviews of our cruise that one passenger gave it a low rating because “there’s nothing to do in Toulon”.  It’s the main French naval base, and having been heavily bombed in WW2 much of its buildings were hastily erected to provide  a lot of housing quickly – in other words its not very pretty architecturally.  The clue for me was the word “gateway”.  Anywhere that styles itself “gateway to blah blah” is usually an indication that you want to getaway from it as soon as possible.  Toulon calls itself “gateway to the Cote d’Azur”.  On top of all that, it was a Sunday when we visited, so many places would be closed.  This was the best day to go for one of the organised shore excursions.

Our first stop was the pretty little post of Sanary sur Mer.  The market there was yet another feast for the senses – I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time on this cruise blog extolling the joys of the variety and freshness of the local produce, so I’ll try to resist posting yet another picture of glossy tomatoes.  I bought some delicious fresh macaroons, a punnet of sweet and sharp strawberries, and couldn’t resist joining the queue for this local delicacy, Cade.  It was a sort of chickpea flour pancake, cooked in a wood smoke oven, served with a little salt and pepper.  The texture reminded me of potato bread.

A passing local advised us to climb to the top of the tower, accessible behind the hotel.  It’s free to enter, but quite a few steps and ladders to climb.  The view over the little harbour, with the old-fashioned painted boats – pointus, the pointed ones – was just exquisite.

Our next stop was the seaside resort of Bandol, weekend retreat of choice for the residents of nearby Marseilles.  There was a display of classic British cars (Les Anglaises) along the promenade, and the island off the coast belonged to M Ricard, inventor of the eponymous aperitif.  We had a welcome sit-down in the shade and enjoyed tapas of mussels and aubergine, followed by a gentle stroll in the sunshine enjoying delicious ice-creams from a dizzying choice of flavours.  I went for lavender, this being Provence, while Roger tried a salty caramel.  During the ice-cream purchasing process, he managed to drop a 5 euro note, which a passer-by retrieved and returned to us.  Back on the coach, and we were back on board at 13.30.  The trip had cost 32 euros – they’re not cheap, shore excursions, but this was definitely one we were glad we had taken.

I managed a short session in the gym, and then had a GnT in the Lookout Bar as we set sail. At dinner, there was a crepe station set up, so we enjoyed freshly prepared crepes Suzette for dessert.  I even managed to catch the evening show in the Ocean Theatre, which was very good, high professional standard.

Cruise Tip Of The Day: Check where you’re going to be on a Sunday, as shops and other attractions may be closed.  And look out for the words “Gateway to….”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: