As you can see above, Toulon has a very protected harbour, and because of this Toulon has the principal French naval base. There are two cruise ports - near the old town (left on the picture above) there is a newer port for three ships under 300 metres, and larger ships go to the La Seyne-du-Mer port (right side) across the bay.
If you do go to the la Seyne-du-Mer dock, the cruise ships usually provide a passenger ferry or free bus service that takes you to the main part of Toulon. On a pleasant day, the ride across the bay gives you good views of the Navy ships (above), and the boat drops you on the town waterfront.
If your ship comes into the cruise port in town, walk down the dock, heading to the left as you come to the land. Walk along the waterfront until you come to the famous statue, called 'The Genie de la Navigation' (the Navigation Genius). Famous sailors are pictured on the statue base.
The townspeople of 1847 when it was first placed there seemed to think it was a bit of a joke, and it had the nickname of "Cul-vers-ville", meaning 'ass to city' - an easy word play on the surname of a commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean squadron, Admiral Jules de Cuverville. The town hall was also right behind his bare bum. Others thought the pointed finger was a gesture while he was calling, "Quick! Bring me a shirt!"
Because of the French Navy, Google Earth has blurred all the coastal parts of the bay. You can see this on the map beside.
Toulon is a town where you really need a plan. On my first visit I walked the waterfront, and looked at the streets back of it - thought they were rather boring and a bit seedy, so went back to the ship. I missed a lot!
I don't advocate the 'little train' in many towns, but the one in Toulon seems to give a good over-view of the city and takes you to all the places I will mention (and more), as well as giving you the history as you go. It travels around the old town and also out to the old fort, the beaches and lovely gardens. To catch it, walk on the waterfront north past the Genie de la Navigation statue to a wide opening in the buildings (beside).
There is a great street market, every day except Monday - opening at 7:30 a.m. and closing soon after noon. It sells clothing, shoes, and oddities, as well as fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses and flowers. It is just off the waterfront on Rue de Lafayette, about half way from the cruise port to the statue.
See the Cathedral of Toulon by walking about three blocks up Rue de Lafayette from the waterfront and turning left. The church is right there (beside right).
Visit a French mall! It is near the cruise pier, so very handy to visit. Just as you come off the cruise pier and head for the waterfront you will see pillars ahead where you can walk through to the street behind (below left). Across the street you will see a street to a below ground parking garage, and above it the sign 'Centre Mayol'. The 'o' can't be properly seen, so it looks like May - something blue - L......... Below this sign is the mall entrance. Some of the exits to this mall make it tricky to find your way, so it pays to come back to this one when your shopping is done!
A Longer Walk in Toulon
Walk out to see the beaches - this is a great area for photography, with lovely beaches and sea views. As you come off the cruise pier, go to the main road and turn right. I have put a circle on the map, labelled 'green circle' because there are two circles. Find the larger of the two, with grass and palm trees. On the corner there is the rugby stadium, and across from it an apartment building that is curved. Leave the circle on the street to the right of this curved building. Walk straight about five blocks until you come to a corner with a building that has long vertical windows, and a grouping of about five palm trees on grass. Turn right here.
Walk until the street turns, and on your left there are several streets. Pick a narrow pretty one that has large flower baskets - or, if you are off season, there are white basket hangers that hold a basket on each side. It is called Rue Lamalogue. As you can see, there are wide pedestrian walkways and no car parking.
Walk straight until you come to the attractive beaches and park areas.
Fort St. Louis is to your right, and the beaches to your left. The walk is about 2.6 km / 1.6 miles return from the green circle to this point. The Little Train goes here, and you can hop on to return to the pier.
I hope you enjoy Toulon! There is not a lot to do, but the port can be very pleasant. From the waterfront you can also do boat tours of the bay.