A little history...

nancy has a stiff neck", "Gaby is going to lie down in the grass", "the hunter is starving". These cryptic messages were announcing the Provence landings. Code name: Operation Dragoon.

Operation Dragoon was launched 70 days after the Normandy landings. The operation involved a naval assault and an air assault. Although the German troops expected the landings to be imminent, they were unaware of the date and were surprised on the night of 14 August.

Provence was liberated in less than two weeks, although the estimated duration of the operation was two months. In all, from the landings on the coast of Provence to the movement of troops inland, Operation Dragoon mobilised 900,000 men and lasted more than three months. Faced with the Allied breakthrough on the beaches of Cavalaire-sur-Mer, Hitler even said: "This is the darkest day of my life".

Débarquement de Provence

The landing beaches

It all began on the night of 14 to 15 August when the African commandos arrived on the beach at Canadel.

Then on the beach at Cavalaire-sur-Mer and on the vast Pampelonne beach in Ramatuelle, the troops of the American 3rd D.I. arrived. In Sainte-Maxime, the Nartelle beach was the landing point for the 45th American Infantry Division and the Dramont beach for 20,000 Texan GIs from the 36th Division. The southern part of Pampelonne beach in Ramatuelle was cleared to make way for a landing strip.

All these beaches, from La-Croix-Valmer to Saint-Raphaël, were the scene of an extraordinary military action that enabled French and Allied troops, as well as local Resistance fighters, to surprise the enemy and allow the liberation of the département.

The Memory Lane

Good to know!

The town of Saint-Raphaël has created a Memory Trail to retrace the D-Day landings in Saint-Raphaël, which will be inaugurated on 14 August 2023.
From the Delayen esplanade to the Pointe de l'Observatoire at Le Trayas, this trail offers a chance to (re)discover thehistory of the Allied landings in Provence.

Find out more about the Saint-Raphaël Memory Trail

Le Trayas

Sites and events

Numerous testimonies, from the commemorative stele at the Mont-Faron Memorial to the American cemetery in Draguignan, ensure that those who fought for freedom are not forgotten. Museums such as the Musée de la Marine in Toulon, the Musée de l'Artillerie in Draguignan and the Musée des Troupes Marines in Fréjus (recently completely renovated) also make reference to the Provence Landings. Group outings, tours and commemorations are also organised throughout the year.

The French government also recognises 10 national memorial sites run by the Ministry of the Armed Forces, including 3 in the Var:

  • The Memorial to the D-Day Landings and the Liberation of Provence at Mont-Faron
  • Rayol-Canadel National Necropolis
  • Boulouris National Necropolis

Dive into the heart of D-Day with hybrid reality

From 2024, to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the "Route du Débarquement de Provence" application will enable you to relive the key events as if you were there!

Based on the same principle as Archistoire, archive images will be superimposed on the real thing to give you a perfect view of how the operations unfolded, while walking on the same ground as the Allied troops.

A 360° view to find out all about those who liberated the Var.

Application Route du Débarquement

Find out more

Download our brochure "Le Var - Land of Freedom".

Activities and events

results
Map
Close

See also...

Discover the cultural wealth of the Var.