• © OT Sanary

    © OT Sanary

  • VPCC


  • © VPCC

    © VPCC

  • © Hyeres Tourisme

    © Hyeres Tourisme


What’s up in Var-Provence?


Located along the Mediterranean Coast, between beautiful hills and dreamy sandy beaches, Var-Provence offers many assets. Do you know that Var-Provence is the sunniest area of France and the second largest tourist area after Paris? Var-Provence is also the second most forested area of France while offering 400km (249miles) of coastline! 


New exclusive shore excursions

The Var Provence Cruise Club (VPCC) has engaged a partnership with Tourist Authorities to develop new shore excursions to experience from the VPCC ports, gateways to Provence and French Riviera. As result of this work, new excursions exclusively dedicated to cruise passengers are available in 2017.

Among them: 

- Tour of the Opera House of Toulon: the fabulous building and its treasures – made in the spirit of the Second French Empire style – are now open to visitors… but only for groups of cruise passengers! Lucky them. 

- Visit of the “Tour Royale”: likewise, only cruise guests can enter inside the emblematic 16th century’s tower of Toulon and discover its rock-cut architecture and its fascinating History.   

- The “Domaine d’Orvès” is an outstanding place where a typical “Bastide” stands amid a majestic Provençal garden (awarded the “Outstanding Garden” label by the French Ministry of Culture), just a few kilometres away from Toulon city-centre cruise terminal. The landlord – daughter of the famous French painter Pierre Deval – opens the doors of her secret garden to cruise passengers for a journey dedicated to Nature, Art, Gastronomy, and Botanic.


2017: the year of renewal for major touristic sites

Want to experience new touristic sites in Var-Provence? 2017 is the year to do so! 

The Abbaye of La Celle (12th century) reopened after important renovation works and welcomes visitors right next to a Michelin-star restaurant managed by the famous French cook Alain Ducasse.

The “WW2 Memorial of the Landing of Provence” located at the top of Mount Faron, Toulon, is also turning into a modern, up-to-date museum and will reopen in Spring 2017. The museum, inaugurated in 1964 by the General De Gaulle, tells the story of the operations that lead to open up a second front on French soil, involving 2 000 warships and as many aircraft.  

Excursions to the island of Porquerolles can now combine Art and Nature since the prestigious “Carmignac Art Foundation” chose the island to settle its new museum dedicated to Modern art paintings and sculptures. The museum, nestles in a wild, unspoiled Mediterranean site, will welcome its first visitors in Autumn 2017. 

At least but not last, French authorities just confirmed that the “F1 Grand Prix of France” will return to the racing circuit Paul Ricard (also called “the Castellet Circuit”) from 2018. In the meantime, the internationally renowned racing circuit has developed new attractions to discover the innovative and high-tech tracks: karting sessions, driving lessons in GT cars or Segway tours are some of the activities to experience as a family.

Every tour and many ideas for tour operators are detailed in the VPCC’s kit “Ideas for excursions: experience Var-Provence!” which can be downloaded on or sent by email upon request. 

New infrastructures

The Ports of Toulon Bay (Toulon and La Seyne-sur-Mer) that accommodate 50% of the calls are clearly the leaders of the Var-Provence ports, mainly due to the quality of their infrastructures. La Seyne-sur-Mer has a brand-new cruise terminal since May 2016, while Toulon reshaped its own with new designs and furniture during summer 2016.

The port of Sanary-sur-Mer implemented the ISPS code in 2016 and keeps working on its guests’ well-being: a mooring buoy will be installed offshore in 2017 to protect the environment (Posidonia meadow in particular), but also to enhance the quality and efficiency of the operations. Also, a new dedicated pontoon with a bigger restricted area will be operational in front of the Tourist Office in 2018. This way, Sanary-sur-Mer will offer to travellers a high-quality security system while keeping its identity and the charm of its typical Mediterranean marina.      

Boom of typical Provençal ports

A 2016 was an exceptional year in Var-Provence in terms of call and passenger volume (278 calls, 362 479 pax),  with an incredible boom of smaller ports. For instance, Saint-Raphaël had a 14% rise from 2015 and Sanary +124% in terms of pax.Luxury and upscale cruise lines are fond of these beautiful typical ports that offer new perspectives: they are easy to access by tenders, close to major touristic sites and some of them, like Le Lavandou, are protected from the Mistral and East Winds. This enthusiasm continues in 2017 since the ports of Cavalaire and Fréjus will accommodate their first cruise ships!

To meet the growing demand, the Var Provence ports develop new high quality services. Le Lavandou – cradle of French neo impressionism -  is working on an artistic tour that will be launched in 2017. It will include a 2km coastal path (called “The painters’ path”) and the visit of Théo Van Rysselberghe’s former studio. The port is also creating a tour with the shopkeepers of Bormes-les-Mimosas, the medieval hilltop village located next door, to highlight local arts and crafts.

Bandol has become the 5th Var Provence port to adopt the Label “Cruise Friendly” (after Toulon, La Seyne, Sanary and Saint-Raphaël): 64 shopkeepers and leisure providers from Bandol committed to ensure a warm welcome to cruise passengers, providing them discounts or welcome gifts, and adapting their opening hours to cruise calls. In total, 294 partners have been granted the Label “Cruise Friendly” but the VPCC is currently working to extend its brand to other ports (Le Lavandou, Saint-Tropez, Hyères) and to the region’s most visited hinterland sites (Bormes-les-Mimoss, Le Castellet).    


Big events to come

The Ports of Toulon Bay (Toulon/La Seyne) are going to welcome the prestigious MedCruise General Assembly in October 2017. 

In line with the MedCruise tradition, all regular and associate members will have a first-class opportunity to discuss the developments in the region, while they will also devote time in B2B meetings and interactive workshops with cruise line executives. About 200 guests are expected in Toulon for 4 days of creative exchange program and fun!



Anne-Marie BLUM
Var Provence Cruise Club
Cruise Promotion and Marketing Manager
Phone : +33 (0) 494 228 060

Point of interest