Toulon is a city in southern France and a large military harbour on the Mediterranean coast, with a major French naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, Toulon is the capital of the Var department in the former province of Provence. The Commune of Toulon has a population of 165,514 people (2009), making it the fifteenth-largest city in France. It is the centre of an urban area with 559,421 inhabitants (2008), the ninth largest in France. Toulon is the fourth-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille, Nice and Montpellier. Toulon is an important centre for naval construction, fishing, wine making, and the manufacture of aeronautical equipment, armaments, maps, paper, tobacco, printing, shoes, and electronic equipment. The military port of Toulon is the major naval centre on France's Mediterranean coast, home of the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle and her battle group. The French Mediterranean Fleet is based in Toulon. During World War II, after the Allied landings in North Africa (Operation Torch) the German Army occupied southern France (Case Anton), leading to the scuttling of the French Fleet at Toulon (27 November 1942). The city was bombed by the Allies in November of the following year, with much of the port destroyed and five hundred residents killed. Toulon was captured by the Free French Forces of General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny on 28 August 1944. In 1974 Toulon became again the préfecture, or administrative centre, of the Var. Five years later the University of Toulon opened. Toulon was one of four French cities where the extreme-right Front National won the local elections in 1995. The Front National was voted out of power in 2001. The old town of Toulon, the historic centre located between the port, the Boulevard de Strasbourg and the Cours Lafayette, is a pedestrian area with narrow streets, small squares and many fountains. Toulon Cathedral is located here. The area is also home of the celebrated Provençal market which takes place every morning on the Cours Lafayette, which features local products. The old town had decayed in the 1980s and 1990s, but recently many of the fountains and squares have been restored, and many new shops have opened. The Old Town of Toulon is known for its fountains, found in many of the small squares, each with a different character. The original system of fountains was built in the late 17th century; most were rebuilt in the eighteenth or early 19th century, and have recently been restored. Mount Faron (584 metres) dominates the city of Toulon. The top can be reached either by a cable car from Toulon, or by a narrow and terrifying road which ascends from the west side and descends on the east side. The road is one of the most challenging stages of the annual Paris–Nice and Tour Méditerranéen bicycle races.
At the top of Mount Faron is a memorial dedicated to the 1944 Allied landings in Provence (Operation Dragoon), and to the liberation of Toulon. Beginning in 1678, Vauban constructed an elaborate system of fortifications around Toulon. Some parts, such as the section that once ran along the present-day Boulevard de Strasbourg, were removed in the mid-19th century, so the city could be enlarged, but other parts remain. One part that can be visited is the Porte d'Italie, one of the old city gates. Napoleon Bonaparte departed on his triumphant Italian campaign from this gate in 1796. Toulon has a Mediterranean climate, characterised by abundant and strong sunshine, dry summers, and rain which is rare but sometimes torrential; and by hot summers and mild winters. Because of its proximity to the sea, the temperature is relatively moderate. The average temperature in January, the coldest month, is 9.3 °C (49 °F), the warmest of any city in metropolitan France. In January the maximum average temperature is 12.7 °C (55 °F). and the average minimum temperature is 5.8 °C (42 °F). The average temperature in July, the warmest month, is 23.9 °C (75 °F)., with an average maximum of 29.1 °C (84 °F). and an average minimal temperature of 18.8 °C (66 °F). According to data collected by Météo-France, Toulon is the city in metropolitan France with the most sunshine per year: an average of 2,856 hours a year from 1999 to 2008, compared with 2,695 hours a year for Nice and 2,472 hours for Perpignan. The reason is the wall of mountains that largely protects Toulon from the weather coming from north. Average rainfall is 665 millimetres per year. The driest month is July with 6.6 mm (0.26 in)., and the wettest is October, with 93.9 mm (3.70 in). It rains on less than 60 days per year (an average of 59.7 days) and the amount of precipitation is very unequal in the different seasons.