Toulon the Beautiful?

Place de la Liberté

From Chez Lofficier

Well, at least more beautiful than it used to be!

JM and I haven’t been back there for about six-year and we’ve noticed a major improvement in the way it looks downtown.

Of course, there are still places I would hesitate to walk at night, but that is true in any city. But, apart from that, the whole downtown area now is full of shops and restaurants where one wants to go. And, you can see ongoing upgrading of many of the remaining places.

The photo above is the Place de la Liberté in the center of town and the view is from my in-laws’ balcony, so you can see that they are right in the middle of the action. The whole plaza is surrounded by cafés with terraces and only a few minutes walk away are many more.

JM and I were thrilled to find an outstanding Indian restaurant halfway between the apartment and our hotel where we enjoyed a delicious lunch for less than twenty euros for the two of us. We would have gone back if we could have found time, but unfortunately most of the friends and relatives we had meals with were a bit too afraid to eat something so “foreign!”


Toulon Harbor and big boat!

The harbor has always been spectacular. It is the largest natural harbor in Europe, I believe, and we always try to take one of the harbor tours while we’re there. We found it amazing to be shown all the military ships with a full rundown of their armaments. We thought that in the States these days, we would be arrested for taking the kinds of photos we were encouraged to take in Toulon.

So, while the parent situation is stressful and we were worried about the dogs, we did wind up having time for a few fun activities. Next report on our trip to Bandol.

Ciao for now.


Radio Silence






All Aboard!


I was quiet last week, because we were going to Toulon on Monday, and I didn’t want to announce to the world that Chateau Shmoo was going to be empty for several days. I know I share pretty much my whole life here, but I’m also not stupid and realize that some things are better not announced in advance.

We had invited some friends for lunch on Saturday, and I woke up with a  bit of a sore throat, which didn’t seem too bad. However, by the time we came back from walking the dogs, the side of my face has swelled up. making me resemble a dysfunctional chipmunk! Why is it that these things always happen on weekends or holidays? Going to the ER was out, as the people who were coming live near Toulouse and were already en route.

I decided to run to the pharmacy to see if they could give me something. To the best of what we could determine, I seemed to have an infected salivary gland. Luckily, our pharmacist is a sweetie, and gave me six days worth of antibiotics without a prescription.

Unfortunately, this meant that I was not the greatest company at lunch, and, I couldn’t actually eat. I think I’ve hosted better meals from a social point of view.

Sunday there were no disasters, so we left to take the dogs to the kennel we had found on Monday morning, hoping for the best. The place we had chosen, near Cepie, seemed fine when we checked it out. We had more reservations once we were actually there with the dogs. First, the lady who runs it had a cat in her house. My dogs love to chase cats, so that seemed like a shaky thing to start with. Second, Peaches was terrified of all the other dogs, and spent most of the time standing in front of me with the patented Dracula Face; daring anyone to approach either of us!

Shmoo took off running, thinking this looked pretty cool. To keep the dogs from following us, we put them in the house and left, hoping it would be all right.

We got to Carcassonne 20 minutes later and got a phone call from the kennel. Shmoo had jumped the electrified fence around the swimming pool in an effort to escape. We had told her about Steve McShmoo, but I guess people never believe you until they see it for themselves. She had caught him, but now JM and I were in a panic. We couldn’t stand the thought of anything happening to the dogs, so I decided I would not go to Toulon, and would go back to pick them up. I started to unpack all my carefully packed stuff from our suitcase and put it in a tote bag.

I called the kennel to tell her, but she reassured me; told me that now that she understood the situation she wouldn’t leave Shmoo alone where he could escape. JM and I spent ten minutes or so going round in circles, and finally we decided we would chance it and leave things as they were, so I called back to say we were going to go.

By that time, we were mentally and emotionally exhausted, and the train hadn’t even arrived in the station! Still, sometimes you just have to go on blind faith that things will work out for the best.

Once we were in the train, there was no going back. I decided to put the best face I could on things and try to have fun. Or at least to not be miserable.

Our train from Carcassonne took us to Montpellier, where we changed for the train to Toulon. I love French trains. They are comfortable and clean. It was a little over four hours from here to Toulon, and it cost us less than taking the car would have if you factored in the cost of gasoline, tolls and parking in Toulon. Parking in Carcassonne was 6€ a day, half or less than parking downtown Toulon. And, there is the added factor that it is way more relaxing. I could read, eat, go to the toilets without stopping at a service station, or even sleep if the desire took me.

And, once in Toulon, our hotel was directly across from the station and a three-minute walk to JM’s parents place. So it would have been hard to get simpler than that. The train station is also the  hub for all the buses that go anywhere in the Toulon region, so even to go outside of town was not a problem for us, and was also ridiculously cheap. It cost us 2€ to go to Bandol, several towns away along the coast.

That part was really a no-brainer, at least. Okay. Time for a break. More to come a bit later.


Ciao for now.