A week in Provence

I have just returned from a week-long holiday in the south of France. I stayed in Le Dramont, which is a small hamlet next to Saint Raphaël in the Var department. I love this part of France and I am hoping to move there when I retire in a few years. I love the smell of the stone pines, the sound of the cicadas chirping and the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore. It was very relaxing.

The Dramont Beach was the main site for the Allied Landing, known as Operation Dragoon, in southern France on 15 August 1944. Many people know about The Normandy Landing on 6 June 1944 but very few know about the Provence Landing which contributed to the defeat of the Nazis and the liberation of France.

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At the summit of the Cap Dramont, there is a semaphore which was built in 1562 on the ruins of a watchtower. It is accessible through a path in the forest known as the Pirates Path. It was disarmed in 1944 but was reactivated in 1966 and is still being used for coastal surveillance. As it is military land, it is not possible to visit it, but not far from it there is a belvedere where we can enjoy the magnificent view.

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Le Dramont’s main landmark is a small island L’île D’or which is situated just a few metres off the shore and is accessible by swimming or by boat. View from the side, there is a rock in the shape of a gorilla. It is said to have inspired Hergé to write L’ile Noir, the seventh adventure of Tintin.

It was sold in 1897 to an architect who, legend has it, lost it to Doctor Auguste Lutaud in a drunken game of card in 1912. The new owner was quite an eccentric character and decided to build a tower with red rocks from the Massif de l’Esterel.  He then proclaimed himself King of The Gold Island and issued his own money and stamps. He organised a huge party on 25 September 1913 and regularly organised big parties. He died in 1925, after a twelve-year reign and his ashes were deposited in a rock on the island.

After his death, the island ran into disuse until the 1960s when it was bought by Francois Bureau. He died in 1994 leaving the Island to his heirs. His children and grandchildren still holiday on the Island but welcome visitors now and then.

Although it was quite a short holiday, I had a very enjoyable time. The temperature was very high as in the rest of Europe, but I was able to cool down in the pool or in the sea. There are many secluded pebble beaches, which are accessible either by boat, or by the forest path.

 

 It is my favourite part of France and I highly recommend it to you. There are many hotels and campsites, where you can stay for a reasonable price even at the height of the season. I can’t wait to go back there myself!

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