I am loosening my helmet to wipe the sweat from my face while putting my sunglasses back in place. I take a few sips from my water bottle while enjoying the view on world’s third largest bay, after Hong Kong and San Francisco: the bay of Toulon along the French Riviera. From the top of the 584-metre high Mont Faron, the view on France’s forgotten city and massive military harbour is merely splendid: the naturally protected harbours, the rooftops of the narrow medieval streets, the surrounding summits toped of by fortifications, and some of the most beautiful beaches of France.
The sun burns my skin and makes me sweat as much as the continuously climb up over a winding stony path zigzagging its way up to the top of the Mont Faron. The scent of pine trees enters my nose when I take a deep breath before making our way down. Not the convenient way on the asphalt but via the downhill mountain bike track.
Last time we climbed up this mountain, I punctured the tire of my enduro mountain bike in the first bend down! Not prepared enough, I had to walk all the way down with my bike gently rolling next to me on the road. I had to set something straight with this mountain… So today, with an extra chamber in my backpack, I am about to give it another go!
Helmet tight, here I go again! The first part of the trail winds on the top of the Mont Faron and is basically flat, perfect to discover the peak and explore the views from all sides of the mountain. I pass families who took the cable car up to visit the zoo.
The fun part starts with a few stairs down the dirt path. It gets rockier and requires quite a bit of technique to conquer. Focused on not puncturing, I make my way down slowly and controlled on the steep parts or faster on the few horizontal sections. It is hard to divide my attention between the trail and the stunning views on Toulon. Sharp bends after sharp bends, the harbour gets closer among pine trees and to the sound of cicadas.
It is always faster to go down than up! Still, once I merge with the asphalt road again, I have a few more bends to enjoy, this time releasing the handles of my brakes and feeling the warm wind on my bare arms. I am soon rolling into the centre of Toulon that we are about to discover after a well deserved shower and Mediterranean meal.
Claire & Marcella
- Refer to the website of the tourist information office to choose your points of interests in and around Toulon.
- More of our articles refer to Toulon:
- Toulon being mostly off the beaten path, Airbnb is a good option to find accommodation.
- Toulon is easily reached either by train from Paris (4 hours with the TGV) or by plane (1 hour from the Marseille Provence airport or 30 minutes from the Toulon-Hyères airport).
- Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area! Only the mountain biking loop is shown here as the regular road was taken from Toulon to get to the bend where the bike up starts (follow “téléphérique du Mont Faron”). Read the map counter-clockwise to see the way up, then on the top of the Faron and back down (12.5 kilometres not including the way to the starting bend). Click here for a short tutorial and learn how to download this GPS track and use our interactive maps offline on your phone without any roaming fees.