While walking his dog on boulevard Amiral-Vence, Guy is challenged by an imposing display. Placarded at the foot of the large abandoned white building which dominates the Super Toulon district, a building permit. A residential residence must emerge in place of the former Hôtel de la Tour Blanche, closed since 2006. “Pff, we’ll believe it when we see it, gets angry our retiree. If you knew the number of projects, hotels, nursing homes or housing that should have been done here and that were buried immediately after being unveiled…”
And yet, this time, everything suggests that the appearance of construction machinery on the slopes of Faron is only a matter of weeks. At stake: the partial rehabilitation of the building, the construction of 68 luxury apartments, but also an underground car park. All this, therefore, with a breathtaking view of the harbour, on the site of an establishment which was one of the most luxurious in the department in the 1970s.
A building permit purged of all appeals
“The White Tower is under agreement to sell with Sagem”, confirms Gérard Cerruti, who has been at the head of the Hôtel de la Tour Blanche company since 2008. For details, the former president of the Union patronale du Var returns the ball to the future buyer. And Charles Ignatoff, managing director of Sagem, a mixed-economy company which plays the role of promoter-developer here, is quick to tell us a little more about the schedule.
“The building permit was filed last spring and purged of all appeals, he explains. We are currently working with the consulting firm on business consultation. We hope to be able to start marketing within two months.”
The opening date of the residence would be still “being determined”. Just like the cost of the project, which should have been launched much earlier. But “Covid and Ukraine have greatly delayed the construction permit examination and the call for tenders”grins Charles Ignatoff.
The game is worth the candle, however, if we are to believe the DG. “It’s a flagship operation, both in terms of urban planning and architecture. In Toulon, it’s an emblematic place, a bit like the Tour d’Argent in Paris. Everyone remembers a wedding or a baptism held there.” Not to mention the memories of the stars who have paraded there since its construction in 1958 (see elsewhere).
Part of an aparthotel
For the president of the local interest committee of “Super Toulon”, nostalgia is however not in order. “Everyone is happy that things are finally moving, assures Véronique Lautier. We will just be vigilant about the consequences of the work on the surrounding homes, because we are all on the same rock and there is still a question of digging a car park on three levels! But the promoter agreed to initiate a preventive summary (1).”
Same satisfaction displayed on the side of the town hall. “It’s private, we don’t have to intervene on this file but we can only welcome itexplains Mohamed Mahali, elected in charge of urban planning. For years, this site has been a wart planted in the middle of a superb neighborhood. In addition, the project is supposed to mix luxury apartments and “hotel apartments”, which would keep the spirit of the place.”
With or without VIP, the new story of the White Tower finally seems ready to begin.
1. In order to avoid any dispute after completion of the work on the previous condition of the neighboring structures, the client shall have the condition of the neighboring buildings noted by a legal expert.
All of showbiz took advantage of his swimming pool
August 1965. Sylvie Vartan, in concert in Toulon, gives a long interview filmed on the terrace of the Hôtel de la Tour Blanche. On his deckchair placed by the pool, facing the harbor and under the song of the cicadas, the artist offers a magnificent advertisement for the establishment built seven years earlier.
The one who is then the wife of Johnny Hallyday is not the only star to have tasted the pleasures of the Toulon establishment. Actors, singers, painters, poets, ministers, sports champions, stars of the small screen…: the complete list of VIPs who have passed through these foothills of Faron would not fit in this article.
Let us quote all the same, pell-mell, Bob Marley, Brigitte Bardot, Luis Mariano, Aragon, Jean Marais, Joe Dassin, Michael Schumacher, Dalida, Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, Louis de Funès, François Mitterrand, the King of Spain Juan Carlos or even General de Gaulle… who came for the baptism of his grandson.
The cable car built in stride
Some have left their signature on the guestbook, others lasting memories. “Jean Gabin and Fernandel made me goat“, remembered in 2010, in our columns Christian Brouste, first director of the establishment. “The two could not see each other. They tried to avoid each other. If they ran into each other, they didn’t talk to each other.”
When, in 1954, the financier Louis Valéry Roussel had bought a retirement home in the middle of the olive trees, no one could imagine what would happen next. That a hotel-restaurant would see the light of day four years later. As well as a cable car. Then a housing estate of villas and, finally, years later, under the control of Christian Brouste and the Frantel group, a complex of one hundred rooms which would become the first major hotel in the Var from the 1970s to the 1980s!
However, it was partly due to a lack of sufficient customers that the aging establishment ended up closing its doors in the early 2000s.