Friday, April 27, 2012

Toulon


This morning we set off on our trip to Toulon, France for an Amlin Cup semi final rugby match tomorrow night between Toulon and Stade Francais. Our trip took us through miles and miles of the Rouissillon and Languedoc vineyards and past the cities of Perpignan, Montpellier and Aix en Provence before finally reaching Toulon. What started out as cloudy and very windy turned in to beautiful sunshine as we reached the port area of Toulon. After some difficulty finding the hotel parking, we were happy to get checked in.

Immediately, we set off to explore the port and get something to eat. At the autostrade stops in Spain, the food is quite good and in fact they will cook up fresh food for you. At our first stop in France, for coffee, we were faced with vending machines. We jumped right back in the car and drove on to the next rest stop. The same thing. However, by this time we just decided to take the plunge. After all that, the vending machine espresso was drinkable. Thinking about lunch we passed a rest stop with a McDonald's. This is France!Further along we stopped and had a grilled sandwich on virtually uncooked bread. All this made food a priority in Toulon. We strolled along the waterfront, passing huge yachts and tour boats, while across the harbour we could see the ferries to Corsica and some naval vessels. Finally, we stopped for a local beer and raspberry crepe. Weird but lovely.

There is a large pedestrian only shopping area, which we wandered around, discovering that the same items were quite a bit cheaper in Spain. But the browsing was most enjoyable.

It was back to the port for dinner where we shared a gigantic nicoise salad and then had duck and frites. The servings were huge and could easily have served four people. I can see how obesity has become a problem in France. As we were having our coffee I recognised a man, who passed us. Tonight the restaurant had several rugby types dining. Who was this person wearing a rugby jersey? After passing the restaurant again on our after dinner walk, it came to me that he was a rugby referee. Again racking my brains I knew he was from Ireland. It was Alain Rolland who refereed the rugby world cup semi final and gave Sam Warburton, the Welsh player a red card, thus enabling France's victory. I was just glad that I had figured out who he was. I'm sure we will see him tomorrow night at Stade Mayol.

Tomorrow will be a busy naval day as Toulon is the headquarters of the French fleet. We have much exploring to do at the naval museum and the port.




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