Nice to Marseille – a 2 day Coastal Road Trip (Part 2)
According to our Michelin route planner, the fastest way from St Tropez to Toulon was via D58 with a driving time of one hour and 20 minutes. It was a straight forward drive although we thought if it was during the day, we would have been able appreciate the scenic views a lot more with a few stops here and there. We joined A570 in Hyeres then the A57 into Toulon.
From the highway we followed the exit sign to Toulon Centre. Ibis Budget was our hotel for the night and ideally located in the city centre and has paid parking directly located next to it. After we checked in and dropped off our bags, we tried to make use of the time left before retiring for the night. There are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby and Toulon Harbour is just a 10 minute walk, this area is where you catch the ferry to Corsica. We had a pleasant stroll around the harbour but time was ticking away and shops were calling their last orders for the night. We grabbed a Chinese to-go along with a nice bottle of French wine on the way back to the hotel. What a long day!
Breakfast was on offer by the hotel but we opted to have it in town to feel the Toulon vibes, why not? We checked out and left our bags in the car and headed to the colourful Cours Lafayette Market, a large outdoor market space. This is a must visit in Toulon, a market where you can buy lots of French and European produce like fruits, vegetables, cheese and general knickknacks . We had our breakfast in one of the cafes and thoroughly enjoyed the scene as it unfolded into a bustling venue. If you want to stock up on essentials, check out Carrfour Toulon Mayol which is a big grocery shop packed with almost everything you could possibly need.
After a brisk appreciation walk around the town centre it’s time to be back on the road again, we need to arrive in Marseille by 15:00 for us to return the hire car. If you’re staying longer in Toulon, there are heaps of things to do like the cable car ride up to Mount Faron, Plage du Mourillon (beach), Musée Mémorial du Débarquement, Opéra de Toulon, Island trip to Corsica to just name a few.
Weather was not on our side this morning. It was cold and a bit windy although patches of sun trying to break through the grey cloud base. Our next destination is Cassis! The people from the car rental centre in Nice said it’s mandatory to visit Cassis. From Toulon we jumped on the D559, the coastal road. There are two options to get to Cassis, continue on D559 or traverse to D142, the famous Route Des Cretes, a picturesque and narrow coastal road which features France’s highest cliff along the Mediterranean shore. Although we took the latter, the views were still spectacular. Highlights were quaint little villages along with breathtaking vineyards. This stretch has plenty of roundabouts to negotiate!
Cassis was indeed a lovely town! The next time we make it across to the South of France maybe we’ll stay here for a couple of days and explore properly. Due to the bad weather, we didn’t have much time to appreciate the area, so we decided to return the next day (following blog) by train.
Between Cassis and Marseille is another spectacular drive, the D559 (Col de la Geneste) runs partially through the National Park. It’s a winding road but there are numerous lay-bys for a photo opportunity. Arriving in Marseille was a challenge but we managed to get our bearings and arrived on time at the rental centre offices in one piece. Several French drivers displayed much verbal and animated appreciation of our driving skills whilst on this road trip, and we can’t wait to get back to wish them the same! A Renault 16 this time perhaps instead of the Twingo? (We can only wish)!
If you ask our honest opinion if we want to do this road trip again in the future? It’s a big YES from us though next time it’ll be for a week or more.