Toulon/Provence (La Seyne), France
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Toulon has been the great bastion of the French navy since 1494, when Charles VIII chose its superb harbor as the site for a naval shipyard. Today, Toulon is homeport for the French navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carrier "Charles de Gaulle." The city is also the capital of the Var and provides an excellent gateway to the riches of Provence and the Cote d'Azur. To the north and west are medieval Provencal hilltop villages and superb vineyards. To the east lie the fabled coves and beaches of the Cote d'Azur, the setting for the legendary resort of St. Tropez. And everywhere there is the miraculous fusion of sky and sea that forms the essence of Southern France.
Toulon's Upper Town bears more than a strong resemblance to Paris - in the 1840s, the prefect of the Var was that same Baron Haussmann who gave the City of Light its elegant boulevards and architecture. Haussmann first tried his hand at urban renewal here in Toulon.