With her 34,000 inhabitants, Draguignan is one of the largest towns in the hinterland of Department du Var. This quintessentially Provencal town - around one hours drive northward from Résidence Les Marronniers - has a sleepy character, whose old town remains undisturbed by the towns' transit traffic.
The Romans established Draguignan as a military station to protect the Via Appia that ran from Frejus to Riez.
Origin of the name 'Draguignan'
The origin of the name Draguignan is a topic of much discussion in archeological circles: One camp suggests that the name comes from the Roman Draconius. While the other refers to a tale about a dragon in the Quartier de Saint-Hermentaire that had fled from the flooding Gorges de la Nartuby.
Two pilgrims on their way from Ampus to the Abbé de Lérins came by the dragon and were threatened by it. In their hour of need, the pilgrims called upon Saint Hermentiare who fought the dragon and drove it off the rocks.
The place where all this happened became know as Le Pays du Dragon, which later became Draguignan.
Due in part to a Jewish settlement, Draguignau became one of the most important towns in the area during the Middle Ages. A building in the Rue de la Juiverie once housed a synagogue.
Capital of the Provence
After the revolution, Draguignau became the capital of the Provence - a carefully crafted provocation to attach Toulon.
Only in 1974, was this step undone and the capital of the department was handed back to Toulon. Draguignan had to reluctantly accept its new, subordinate status.
The wide boulevards and streets in the town were built in the middle of the nineteenth century under the command of Baron Haussmann, a civil planner, who at the time was residing in Draguignan.
A few years later, Baron Haussmann was engaged by Napoleon III to redesign the boulevards and parks of Paris. His work destroyed much of the medieval city. It is estimated that he transformed sixty percent of the buildings in Paris.
The American Cemetery and the Memorial
The military cemetery Rhone is the home to more than one thousand graves of American soldiers who were killed in action, during operation Dragoon in 1944. On the breast plate of the cemetery's memorial, the names of the fallen soldiers are inscribed.
The cemetery is open daily to the public from 09.00 (9am) to 17.00 (5pm) except 25 December and 1 January. A member of staff is on duty in the Visitors' Building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.
Please download the booklet below, produced by the American Battle Monuments Commission that discusses the cemetery and its services in detail.
- Cemetery Booklet [1.47 MB, PDF]
Musée Municipale de Draguignan
Paintings, from the seventeenth to nineteenth century from Rembrandt, Rubens and Renoir and sculptures from Camille Claudel have been collected by the museum and are on display to the public. The museum also offers a collection of archeological finds and porcelain from the region.
Musée de L'Artillerie de Draguignan
Based in the School of Artillery, the Musée de L'Artillerie de Draguignan preserves French Artillery heritage, traditions and culture. On display is a wide range of artillery, for example, cannons dating from 1730 to 1945, ammunition and uniforms of soldiers.
The museum offers a videotaped documentary that introduces visitors to 'the great History of the French Artillery' from its origin to the mid-20th century.
Further Information about Draguignan
For more information, please contact Maison de Pole Touristique de la Dracenie (see below). They will be only too pleased to assist you further and to send you tourist information via snail mail.
Maison de Pole Touristique de la Dracenie
2, av Lazare Carnot