La Garde, French Riviera

La Garde is a French commune located in the department of Var in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. La Garde is located in the Var, east of Toulon, in the urban area of Toulon of which it is a suburb, between Marseille and Nice.

City in 1056 under the name of Guarda, the castle was a fief of the bishops of Toulon at the XIII century, the lordship of Castellane at the XV and the lordship of Glandevès and finally Thomas. Today, only the chapel and a corner tower remain.

Vigil of Toulon in the Middle Ages, La Garde underwent numerous invasions but also the Wars of Religion. It was sacked in 1707 by Savoy troops when it was known as La Garde lès Toulon.

To “punish” the city of Toulon for having surrendered to the English, Napoleon Bonaparte transferred the district of Sainte-Marguerite to the village of La Garde. This is why there is an annex town hall in this district, a little far from the administrative center of the town. On the other hand, in the 19th the Pradet district broke away from La Garde and became an independent municipality. Jean Aicard, poet and scholar from Provence, lived in La Garde. From the rock of Andesite (an old dyke excavated by erosion), the cobblestones of Toulon were extracted at the end of the 19th. At the beginning of the 20th, in 1927, Abel Gance filmed part of his film “Napoléon” at La Garde.

During the Second World War, La Garde receivedNovember 1942 a small Italian garrison at the gendarmerie: it withdrew in October 1943and the town was occupied by German forces. Fighting took place on 23 and August 24, 1944, during the Allied offensive between the German (Kriegsmarine and Wehrmacht) and Allied (9 DIC and African commandos) forces, notably around the rock and at Thouar.

Former prosperous agricultural center, La Garde became a working-class suburb of Toulon from the middle of the first third of the 20th. In the years preceding and following the Second World War, the municipality remained for a long time on the left (mandates of Michel Zunino and Maurice Delplace), then, becoming more and more residential thanks to the multiplication of allotments, changed in 2001, especially as serious internal dissensions had weakened the left four years earlier. Today it is a university town thanks to the presence of USTV and SeaTech, prosperous thanks to the Toulon-Est activity area.

Culture heritage

The Chateau du Clos
Former property of the Lords of La Garde, the Château du Clos was known by the name of Château Samson. It was sold by Baron de La Garde to Pierre Toucas, trader in Toulon, in 1751. The main building flanked by four towers has been altered several times, to the point of losing its primitive character. It belonged to the family of Senator Dupuy-de-Lome. The castle was occupied in 1948 by the Women’s Learning Center and today it is a Fémina home.

The old town hall
The first town hall was located in the old hospital of the Holy Spirit, it was completely burned by the troops of the Duke of Savoy, in 1707, during the siege of Toulon. The Council of the Community then settled in this house which belonged to Henry-Masseillais, on October 9, 1707. The room was restored and embellished in 1729 (date inscribed on the pediment of the door). The guardian councilors met there until 1884. In the common room also stood the boys’ school.

The old seigniorial windmill
The old seigniorial windmill was part of a complex, with area and miller’s house. Today it is improperly called “dovecote”. Already in ruins in 1794, it had not worked for a long time. It was restored during the 1970s.

The bell tower of the Church of the Nativity
The bell tower, with a square base, ends in a platform with parapets and is pierced with semicircular windows. The four bells, which have been installed since 1887, were baptized. They all have an inscription after the historical indications of use

The so-called “pump” fountain
This pump fountain was built in 1834 on the site of Bon Puit by municipal decision, Mr. Laurent Agarrad, notary, being mayor of La Garde. It was erected near one of the two wells which supplied drinking water to the old village since the Middle Ages.

The Sainte-Marguerite castle
Pons de Fos, lord of La Garde, had a castle built in Sainte -Marguerite in the 11th century. The Fos family remained its owner until April 10, 1212 when the seigneurial rights passed to Etienne, bishop of Toulon. Later, the bishopric gave it in exchange to Honoré de Castellane, in 1478, then it was inherited in 1527 to Pierre de Thomas. It will remain in the same family until 1767. The occupants of the fortified castle of Sainte-Marguerite defended themselves valiantly, in 1707, against the troops of the Duke of Savoy during the siege of Toulon. From September 1793, the fort was occupied by the republican troops of General Lapoype who closed, in the East, the device of the siege of Toulon delivered to the English. Its cannons helped the Romulus to escape the pursuit of English ships on February 13, 1814. The Free French Forces fought fiercely around the fort for the liberation of Toulon. Today, the ancient Castrum has practically disappeared, it has become a military fort, the seat of Cross-Med, which opens its doors to you during Heritage Days.

The chapel of Sainte-Marguerite
Built in the first half of the 17th century, restored in 1775, The Chapel of Sainte-Marguerite was a parish until 1789 before being sold as national property in 1798. The last owner François-Mistral, wine merchant, the graciously ceded in 1807 to Monseigneur Champion de Circe, bishop of Aix and Arles, so that it was exclusively intended for Catholic worship. It was erected in the chapel of Bon Secours, in 1868. Laëtitia Bonaparte, mother of the future emperor, came to pray there in 1793.

Saint-Charles Borromée chapel
This neo-Gothic funeral chapel was erected from 1850 to 1852 by Thérèse Pauline Lagotellerie to serve as a tomb for her husband Charles Farnous. It was built on the plans of the architect B. Fontaine. On the facade, we notice the statues of Sainte Thérèse, on the right, and Charles Borromée, on the left. In the tympanum the bas-relief representing Charles Borromée caring for the plague victims of Milan, in 1537, is the work of the sculptor Pradier as well as the disconcerting Pietà in the sanctuary. The chapel of Saint-Charles Borromée belonged to Victor Clappier in 1870, who bequeathed it to the Archbishop of Digne. She was saved from the destruction decided by the Germans during the war, thanks to the energetic attitude of the parish priest of Avignon. It was purchased for the symbolic franc by the municipality in 1984.

The Saint-Maur chapel
The Saint-Maur chapel was founded in the first half of the 17th century on the site of an oratory dedicated from time immemorial to Saint-Maur, in a place where, according to tradition, the Guardians mistreated the Saint in 542 then that he was passing there with his companions. This temporary chapel was frequented for 50 years from 1778 to 1828. Nothing remains of it, except the flat capitals of the portal barely protruding from a wall in the house at the front. The chapel received the reliquary bust of Saint-Maur on April 22, 1714, offered by the lord of Monthusson. The chapel was completely destroyed in 1834 because it threatened to collapse.

The old Mussou room
First local of the Fanfare Mussou bought by six members of the association, August 21, 1896, to allow the musicians to meet, after the mayor Eugène Blanc deprived them of a rehearsal place following a conflict. Mr. Grégoire Laure advanced the amount necessary for this purchase and received a life annuity. Jean Aicard, who ardently defended the association, was appointed honorary president on September 5, 1896, the day of the inauguration. The building was sold on October 17, 1931 to pay part of the current Mussou room. You can admire the beautiful wrought iron balcony decorated with a lyre, emblem of the association, as well as two small lyres on each corner.

The old Notre-Dame church (12th century)
The Romanesque architecture of transition, the old Notre-Dame church was perfectly integrated into the defensive system of the village. Former parish church of Notre-Dame until 1782 and burial place of the lords of La Garde, it was enlarged, in 1480, by the chapel of Saint Jean-Baptiste, in the North, (now disappeared) and the ogival chapel of Notre- Dame de l’Annonciade, to the south, where Elisabeth de Forbin founded a chapel in 1537, originally topped by a heavy bell tower which parish priest Martin had destroyed during its restoration in 1866 because it threatened to fall. It was completely devastated in 1793 during the siege of Toulon. The poet Jean Aicard saved it from the peak of the quarrymen by having it classified as a historic monument in 1916. It was restored from 1983 to 1989 and saved again thanks to the mobilization of the population,

The old prison
Over the centuries, the old prison has served as a place of incarceration for different people. Let us cite two important facts for example: In 1721, during the plague epidemic, a woman from Toulon, dressed in old clothes, and her child were locked up there. They stayed there for 40 days. On September 10, 1792, the Count of Rochemaure, Major General of the Navy, was imprisoned there before being victimized in Toulon.

Passis castle
The Château de Passis, a very fine seigneurial hotel from the beginning of the 17th century bought in 1748 by Charles Joseph Paul de Thomas, Baron de La Garde, from the Marck-Tripoli-Panisse-de Passis family. In 1700, the castle housed the audience and the junior justice justice office. In the entrance, on the portico, we notice the coat of arms of the Thomas family. During the war, the building belonged to the painter Dieudonné Jacobs.

The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin
The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin has Saint Maur as its secondary patron. Its facade is in Louis XV style and the interior of Tuscan order. A plan was drawn up by Honoré Vaccon in 1778 and implemented by the Toulon architect Joseph Bourgarel. The direction of the works was entrusted, in 1784, to Vottier, engineer of the city of Toulon. Devastated by revolutionary armies during the siege of Toulon, it served as a stable and even a firing range. Abandoned until 1822, it was restored and returned to worship in 1828. It contains the reliquary bust of Saint Maur, in gilded wood, from the 18th century and the bas reliefs of the preaching pulpit of the painter Bernard Senequier. Its bell tower was crowned with a bell tower in the year 2000. Since then, it has undergone major renovations: painting the interior of the Church with magnificent frescoes by a Gardean artist, repairing the floors.

The Sainte Agathe chapel
In 1580, the Sainte Agathe chapel already belonged to the Bousquet family. Jean-François, lawyer and consul of Toulon, founded with his daughter Suzanne a chapel under the name of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Refuge, July 28, 1653. Every day masses were said there at dawn. Messire Honoré Puget was its rector in 1692, Father Andisson in 1727, Father Lion in 1757 and Father Donat in 1761. Today it is a private home.

The public fountain
The population has been demanding for several years the element most necessary for life: water, which it lacked especially in summer. By municipal decision of February 17, 1861, the execution of the construction works of this public fountain was voted, as well as the request for financing by a loan repayable in 29 years. The fountain and the underground gallery which supplied it from the Pas de Méounes caraire were built from 1861 to 1867.

The public washhouse
Built in 1949 in place of the old Astrologin house, which was destroyed in August 1944 during the liberation of La Garde, the public washhouse has its history. It was not reserved for anyone in particular, everyone could wash their clothes there, but there were strict rules of good use to use the two washing and rinsing tubs. If the washing operations were very difficult, “Les Bugadières” forgot their tiredness by telling true or false stories, and often jokes. It was sort of the forum of the old village.

The Piquet room
Grains were weighed there in the village in order to obtain a common tax: the Piquet. After an assembly of notables met to deliver the notebooks of grievances to the Great Voters, Guardians angry with the dear life revolted on March 22, 1789 and set fire to the premises which were destroyed. To calm this first revolutionary act, Mr. Vitton, mayor, fixed the price of foodstuffs. The demonstrators were successful. An edict of the king dated August 23, 1789 granted amnesty to the Provencals who had taken part in the troubles. It was too late the Revolution was underway. This room also served as a classroom for the boys.

City Hall
Built on the initiative of the municipality of Eugène Blanc, on the plans of the Department’s architect, the entrepreneur S. Barthélémy commissioned the construction of the Town Hall. The building had the town hall in its center, flanked to the right of the boys ‘school and to the left of the girls’ school. The pupils were welcomed there for the first time on June 29, 1884. The building as a whole was received on November 25, 1884. Light did not reach the teachers’ accommodation until 1917.

The Saint-Maur oratory
This small stone building set device was built in the late seventeenth century, the plan of its massif is a rectangle of 90 cm on its longest side, its height is four meters. The Saint-Maur oratory was previously located on the edge of the property of Mr. Gaillard, former mayor of La Garde, on the beginning of Avenue Abel Gance, on the left going towards Toulon. The population went there in procession for rogations. It was moved and rebuilt here in 1981. There are two little angels on the arched part. A garland of fruit and leaves and an angel’s head under the niche, which can still be seen, adorned it.

The hospital of the Holy Spirit
Towards the end of the 12th century, Pope Innocent III founded a hospital for the poor in Rome under the invocation of the Holy Spirit. Most of the towns and villages in Provence had their hospitals at the start of the 13th century. The lords of La Garde built one, the hospital of the Holy Spirit, near the rue de La Brèche. In 1657 the municipality bought the hospital to make it the common house. It was burnt down by the Duke of Savoy’s troops in 1707. Another hospital was built here. Disfigured by numerous modifications, it became a charity office and part of it served as a school until 1839.

Justin-Mussou square
Originally Place du Piquet, it was the scene of a violent popular revolt in 1789. In November 1892 the mayor Eugène Blanc declared: “I have the honor to ask you to give the name of Justin Mussou instead du Piquet to perpetuate the memory of the man who organized and directed for over 30 years a body of music in our country. Justin Mussou was the founder in 1851 of the first Gardian association which was then called the Apollo Society. In 1888 after the death of its chief president, it will take the name of Fanfare Mussou then Harmonie Mussou in 1996. Entirely rehabilitated, the Salle Mussou still today hosts the Harmonie Mussou for its rehearsals and concerts.

The second ramparts
The population of the village having increased in the XVth century, houses were built outside the first ramparts, then the village was surrounded by a new non-fortified enclosure, that is to say a simple wall, called the second ramparts. The developed length of this trapean shape is approximately 865 meters and its surface approaches 4 hectares, within which seven doors gave access.

The West gate of the first ramparts
The first ramparts constituted in the 11th century, a strong irregular enclosure affecting as a whole a circular figure whose diameter was about 150 m. In several places they exceed 8 m high and their thickness is around 1.50 m. Of the two doors giving access to the village, only this one remains, the West door of the first ramparts called “Porte du couchant”, very well preserved. We notice its hinges of stone under nipples, but hollow, to receive the hinges of the wooden door which protected the city. We see on the left the loopholes which were used to defend the entry.

The clock tower
Leaning against the wall of the first rampart, the clock tower was built in 1777 by the entrepreneur Angaurran de Toulon on part of a house belonging to Joseph Gasquet. The clock and the bell tower were manufactured by Petitjean, master locksmith and clockmaker in Signes. The bell was melted in the garden of Maur Grué by Galopin, founder in Aix. Broken by a shrapnel during the liberation in 1944, it is the Donat Charles de La Garde company which will replace it with the current one, melted in Annecy by the Pacard establishments. The bell tower lost the 1777 vintage weather vane there. The current dial from 1856 is the work of a certain Vanderbergh, clockmaker in Toulon.

The southwest tower of the castle
It is the only vestige, with a few sections of wall, of what was the former home of the lords of La Garde. It is because the southwest tower of the castle was transformed into a windmill in the 1820s that it still stands proudly today. The thickness of its walls is 2 m at the base and its outside diameter of 8 m. The construction of the castle is prior to the 12th century, its plan formed an irregular quadrilateral flanked by three round towers. Two tanks dug in the middle of the yard received rainwater. The living area was made up of around twenty furnished rooms decorated with around fifty paintings. The castle was inhabited by the descendants of the Thomas until 1792.

The east gate of the first ramparts called “Porte du Levant”
The ramparts which defended the village in the Middle Ages are formed of large andesite stones of blue-green color, arranged in regular courses in the facing. In the massif, stones of all shapes and sizes are drowned in mortar that has become as hard as they are. The sandstone has been extracted on site, but according to tradition, the sand brought on the back of a mule by the inhabitants, comes, in part, from Almanarre beach in Hyères. At this location was the east gate of the first ramparts called “Porte du Levant”.

The old lordly loft
Of good construction, the old manor dovecote already existed in 1580. Its diameter at the base hors d’oeuvre is 7 meters, its height of 5 meters. In 1885, one could still see, against the circular wall, a very large number of plaster cubicles for pigeons. It was integrated into the second ramparts. Other dovecotes remain on the municipal territory: one at the Holiday Center without accommodation Henri-Wallon, the other in the district of La Planquette.

Related Post

The well of Hyères
Located at the start of the old road from La Garde to Hyères, the Hyères well was built before 1580. Its diameter in the work is 2.10 meters and its depth is 7 meters. Its wall is entirely made of regulated device stones. In 1894, it was equipped with an attached wash house and a manual pump before being restored in 1990. It is claimed that this well never dries up, even during periods of drought.

The folk group of La Garde was created in 1963 as part of the Amicale laïque, then baptized La Farigouleto on May 26, 1966. Having become autonomous in 1970, the group bought and fitted out this building which has served as its headquarters and that we call it “Le Fougau” Many events of Provençal culture take place there and, in particular, the Santon Fair during the month of December.

The Restanques
The Restanques were the former property of Jean-François Bousquet, trustee and consul of Toulon in 1634, who held it from his ancestors long before 1584. It was sold to Olive Marius, mayor of La Garde from 1857 to 1868, before becoming the property of the Nepetto-Mauche families. It was bought by Madame Julien who transformed it into an inn in 1958. It was for a long time a wine property whose domain extended beyond the railway. Now a private home again, it houses, in the old cellar, the Vine and Wine Museum of the association “Les Gardéens de vieux souche”.

The cooperative wine cellar
In 1884, the Provencal vineyard was almost entirely destroyed by phylloxera. A few years later it was rebuilt on American carrier plants. In 1905, the wine accumulated again in the vats but its poor sales caused misery among the wine-growers. In order to absorb the surpluses of the harvests, the keeper winegrowers had this cooperative cellar built in 1908. The wine-growing area extended over more than 3000 ha to reach, in the boom years, a production of 17,000 hl brought by nearly 300 winemakers. In 1962, a final extension of the premises housed modern machinery. However, despite numerous initiatives to enable it to survive, the cooperative winery ceased all activity in 1996.

The Justin-Mussou room
The members of the association wishing to have a room large enough to organize various events, the land belonging to Mr. Julien was chosen to build it. The latter agreed to sell it at half its value and Mr. Georges Elluin donated the amount of money necessary for this purchase. The construction was entrusted to the Gatty company which agreed to large payment facilities. The association contracted a loan and organized various actions to finance it. The Justin-Mussou hall was officially inaugurated on October 27, 1927. For decades it was the privileged place for all cultural, artistic, festive and convivial events of the Guardians. It still belongs to the Mussou Harmony.

Natural heritage

The town is concerned with two ZNIEFF of 2 generation:

Guard and Pradet maps
La Garde’s plan in fact constitutes a vast basin surrounded by a set of small massifs. This site, validated in 2010, covers 277 ha. The zone which concerns the municipalities of Garde and Pradet, is the subject of file ZNIEFF 930012494 – Plans of Garde and Pradet in the National Inventory of Natural Heritage.

Pointe Sainte-Marguerite
The zone which benefits from a particular microclimate, is a privileged place having allowed the installation and the maintenance of a vegetation with thermophilic affinities both spontaneous and exotic. The site validated in 2010 covers 3 ha of the commune of Garde. It is the subject of file ZNIEFF 930020237 – Pointe Sainte-Marguerite in the National Inventory of Natural Heritage.

Parks and gardens
La Garde has several landscaped green spaces which help to provide everyone with a quality living environment.

The Thouars Forest
The Thouars Forest is an emblematic site of the Cité du Rocher. Walking and botanical trails allow you to indulge in walking while contemplating plant species specific to Mediterranean lands. Discover the 12 hectares of nature by downloading the brochure.

The Veyret Garden
The Veyret Garden, near the Cousteau College, is very popular with young people and families who find it a place of relaxation with a playground and a green pond.

The Allende Garden
The Allende Garden, between the Town Hall and La Poste, is a green space which includes a fountain and games for children. Its umbrella pines offer shade and freshness in summer.

The Toddler’s Garden
The Garden for toddlers, located opposite the Toy Library and the Maison de la Petite Enfant, rue Jean Bartolini, this garden is suitable for children under 3 who can have fun in complete safety.

Place Louise Michel
Place Louise Michel near the Zunino schools and the Gardinous drop-in center is popular with parents and children who meet there to play after school.

The Savels Park
The Savels Park is a green lung of a hectare and a half located in the heart of the city which combines respect for the environment and enhancement of the natural heritage. Mediterranean species (sage, lavender, rosemary, bicentennial olive trees, vines, oaks, lemon trees, carob trees, jujube trees…) respect the original character of the site and allow good water management.

This creation, geared towards sustainable development, responds to Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration (1992): “Human beings are at the center of concerns relating to sustainable development. They have the right to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature. ”

Allotment gardens
They are located in the Plan, allow 42 families in difficulty to grow fruit and vegetables in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.

The Nature Park
At the heart of the Plan between La Garde and Le Pradet, the future Nature Park will extend over 130 hectares, including 90 hectares in La Garde. This Sensitive Natural Area (ENS) classified as a natural area of fauna and flora interest represents a decisive challenge for the coming years. The objective is to sustainably preserve the quality of the sites, landscapes, natural environments and flood expansion fields and to safeguard natural habitats. The whole, of course, arranged so that the public can come and admire all the riches of the fauna and flora of this remarkable area.

The coast
Stretching over 3 km, the coastline is rich in fauna and flora typical of Mediterranean shores. The coastal and underwater trails give you access to these wonders to preserve. Far from tourism, Magaud beach and San Peyre cove with its small fishing port are confidential places available.

Coastal path
From Saint-Mandrier to Hyères, creeks, peninsulas, coves, bays, coves and small beaches follow one another to offer walkers a range of landscapes. Between the Royal Tower (Toulon) and the Magaud Cove (La Garde), the path offers an exceptional panorama over the Bay of Toulon, the Giens peninsula, the Cap de Carqueiranne and Saint-Mandrier. Along the way, you will admire the 16th century Royal Tower, the first cannon tower built on the edge of the harbor, the Saint-Louis port, its pointed peaks and its multicolored sheds…

The walk is also bucolic since on your way, you will be able to contemplate Mediterranean species such as the Judas tree or the acanthus. The arrival at the Magaud Cove is an invitation to picnic by the water or have lunch on the terrace in the shade of the canisses.

Magaud beach
High cliffs on which pines have hung. Below, a dream beach with small pebbles and crystal clear water. Well known to the Guardians who jealously guard its secret, Magaud Beach is the spirit of authentic Provence by the sea. The underwater path is within reach of palm so that everyone can familiarize themselves with the ecosystem and thus better protect it. Please note: swimming is supervised during the summer period * by the fire brigade.

The underwater trail
Since 2007, the underwater trail, open from the first week of June to the last week of August, has allowed you to discover the animal and plant species of the seabed. During your hike with mask and snorkel, discover the fauna and flora of the Mediterranean from the surface. Buoys, equipped with descriptive panels, present a type of environment and its animal and plant population.

All the biotopes are very well represented here: rocky scree, overhangs, caves, sandy bottom, posidonia meadows, all on bottoms never exceeding more than 8 meters. Frequent rocky ascents allow the less experienced to possibly catch their breath. The practice of spearfishing with a harpoon is prohibited in this area.

Festivals and events

The plant fair
Each year, La Garde celebrates throughout the month of April, the arrival of spring. With family and friends, take part in the traditional Plant Fair as well as the large Thouars picnic organized by the town. Every first Sunday of April, the plant fair envelops its heart of the city with its colorful and fragrant stands filled with flowers, trees and shrubs, crafts and delicacies. The opportunity to stroll and make its spring purchases from nurserymen and horticulturalists while benefiting from the advice of expert gardeners. During this day under the sign of the almond tree, emblematic tree of the city, exhibitions honor this tree with delicate petals as well as all of the plant heritage of the Gard.

Thouars Festival: walking and picnic in the hill
All nature lovers are invited to appropriate the Thouars hill to share with the family a friendly day punctuated by musical entertainment. The opportunity to walk along the botanical paths to discover Mediterranean species and recently rehabilitated residential ruins. And for tired legs, shuttles will be available to get to the top of the hill or get back to the vehicles.

The Medieval Nocturnes
On the occasion of the medieval nocturnes, the Cité du Rocher plunges several centuries back and lives to the rhythm of the Middle Ages. Discover the life of the villagers in the 14th century. A true journey to the time of the valiant knights.

The AOB Fair
The Garlic, Onion and Boudin Fair welcomes every year thousands of visitors fond of Provencal flavors. Organized on the last Sunday of August by the city of La Garde, this event reveals new surprises with each edition. For one day, the heart of the city of La Garde lives to the rhythm of the AOB Fair. Each year, thousands of people flock to discover more than 300 stands where not only garlic braids, onions and sausages stand, but also local and regional products, crafts, wine, second-hand clothes, a garage sale… The quality of the stalls is a delight for visitors who leave with loaded arms. Young and old can also discover farm animals, pony rides, animal exhibition and sale, inflatable games, riding school, etc.

The Winter festival
Coming from all over the department, visitors take advantage of the many events every year and shop for the end of year celebrations in chalets overflowing with delicacies and gifts. Handicrafts and local products, entertainment, concerts… All the ingredients for a moment of happiness and relaxation will be there during the magical month.

French Riviera
The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. There is no official boundary, but it is usually considered to extend from Cassis, Toulon or Saint-Tropez on the west to Menton at the France–Italy border in the east, where the Italian Riviera joins. The coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. The Principality of Monaco is a semi-enclave within the region, surrounded on three sides by France and fronting the Mediterranean. Riviera is an Italian word that corresponds to the ancient Ligurian territory, wedged between the Var and Magra rivers.

The climate of the Côte d’Azur is temperate Mediterranean with mountain influences on the northern parts of the departments of Var and Alpes-Maritimes. It is characterized by dry summers and mild winters which help reduce the likelihood of freezing. The Côte d’Azur enjoys significant sunshine in mainland France for 300 days a year.

This coastline was one of the first modern resort areas. It began as a winter health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. With the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, it became the playground and vacation spot of British, Russian, and other aristocrats, such as Queen Victoria, Tsar Alexander II and King Edward VII, when he was Prince of Wales. In the summer, it also played home to many members of the Rothschild family. In the first half of the 20th century, it was frequented by artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon,h Wharton, Somerset Maugham and Aldous Huxley, as well as wealthy Americans and Europeans. After World War II, it became a popular tourist destination and convention site. Many celebrities, such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot, have homes in the region.

The eastern part (maralpine) of the Côte d’Azur has been largely transformed by the concreting of the coast linked to the tourist development of foreigners from North Europe and the French,. The Var part is better preserved from urbanization with the exception of the agglomeration of Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël affected by the demographic growth of the maralpin coast and the agglomeration of Toulon which has been marked by urban sprawl on its part West and by a spread of industrial and commercial areas (Grand Var).

Tags: France