Thursday, January 1, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 175

Toulon, France

My grandson who is serving an LDS mission in southern France sent this postcard showing parts of the city of Toulon near where he was living at the time.   He has since been transferred to another area.  The palm trees, pools and large hotels along the coast pictured on the card suggest that Toulon is a tourist destination much like Nice. 

Greater Toulon has a population of approximately 600,00 and is the fourth largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille, Nice and Montpellier.  It is noted for naval construction, fishing, wine making, manufacturing, armaments, maps, paper, tobacco, printing, shoes and electronic equipment.  The French Mediterranean Naval Fleet is based in Toulon.

Historical archaeological excavations have shown that this section of the coast has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era.  There were Greek colonists who established trading depots as early as the 7th Century BC.  The Romans were called upon to help establish order and peace during the 2nd century BC.  They named the town Telo Martius.  One of the results of the Roman presence was the establishment of dye manufacturing centers that produced the purple color used in imperial robes.  The purple dye was made from a variety of sea snail and acorns.   In later years as the town became a shelter for trading ships the name changed from Telo to Tholon, Tolon, and finally to present day Toulon. 

Toulon was Christianized in the 5th century and the first cathedral was built.  As  barbarians invaded the region and the Roman power diminished the town became the target of pirates and the Saracens. 

Provence became part of France in 1486 with Toulon becoming a military port soon after.  There is a fort, The Tour Royale, dating from the 1500s that is still standing.  In the 1980s and 1990s the old town had deteriorated but it has since been revitalized and has a pedestrian area with narrow streets, small squares and many fountains.  There is also a public market held daily that features local products.  This is a sunny warm locale with moderate temperatures ranging from a high of about 84 degrees F in the summer to a cool but comfortable 42 degrees F in the winter. 

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