Var (department)

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Calanque du Petit Canereit-Massif de l'Esterel.jpg
Frejus - panoramio (2).jpg
Tour de l'Horloge de Draguignan vue depuis le bd des Remparts.JPG
Porquerolles panorama.jpg
From top down, left to right: Massif de l'Esterel, Fréjus, Draguignan and Porquerolles
Proposition de drapeau pour le Var.svg
Blason departement Var.svg
Location of Var in France
Coordinates: 43°30′N06°20′E / 43.500°N 6.333°E / 43.500; 6.333
Country France
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Prefecture Toulon
Subprefectures Brignoles
   President of the Departmental Council Jean-Louis Masson [1] (LR)
  Total5,973 km2 (2,306 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2020) [2]
  Rank 22nd
  Density180/km2 (470/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Department number 83
Arrondissements 3
Cantons 43
Communes 153
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries and lakes, ponds and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Var (French: [vaʁ] , Occitan: [ˈbaɾ] ) is a department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in Southeastern France. It is bordered on the east by the Alpes-Maritimes department; to the west by Bouches-du-Rhône; to the north of the river Verdon by the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department; and to the south by the Mediterranean Sea. It had a population of 1,076,711 in 2019. [3]


The Var department takes its name from the river Var, which flowed along its eastern boundary, until the boundary was moved in 1860 and the department is no longer associated with the river.

Toulon is Var's largest city and administrative capital, known as the prefecture. Other important towns in Var include Fréjus, Saint-Raphaël, Draguignan, Brignoles, Hyères and La Seyne-sur-Mer. Var is known for the harbour of Toulon, the main port of the French Navy, for its seaside resorts, the most famous of which is Saint-Tropez, for some fine examples of Romanesque and other medieval architecture, such as Le Thoronet Abbey and the Fréjus Cathedral, for its wines, particularly the wines of Bandol, as well as for its motorsport race track Circuit Paul Ricard, located in Le Castellet.


Early years

The department of Var was created at the time of the French Revolution, on 4 March 1790, from a portion of the former royal province of Provence.

Toulon, the historical capital city of Var, was returned that title in 1974. Fontaine Federation Toulon 3.jpg
Toulon, the historical capital city of Var, was returned that title in 1974.
Napoleon arriving in Frejus, 1799 NAPOLEON Debarquement Frejus.jpg
Napoleon arriving in Fréjus, 1799

Its capital was originally Toulon, but this was moved to Grasse in 1793 to punish the Toulonnais for yielding the town to the British in 1793. Subsequently, the capital was moved to Brignoles in 1795, then to Draguignan in 1797. It was not returned to Toulon until 1974.

19th century

In 1815, following the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo the department was occupied by Austrian troops until November 1818. In 1854 the first railroad reached Toulon.

With the creation of the new department of Alpes-Maritimes in 1860 and following the annexation by France of Nice, the eastern part of the department, corresponding to the arrondissement of Grasse, was moved to the new department. This move also shifted the river Var, which had given the department its name, to the new department.

In 1884 a cholera epidemic struck Toulon. The leader of the fight against the epidemic was Georges Clemenceau, a doctor and a member of the National Assembly for the Seine department. He was later elected a member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Var department from 1888 to 1893 and Senator from 1902 to 1920, during which time he also served as Prime Minister of France.

Recent times

The First World War (1914–1918) stimulated growth in shipyards and military industries in the region, but weakened the agricultural and food industries. In 1942 the German Army moved from Occupied France into the zone libre , which included the Var department. The French Fleet was sabotaged in Toulon Harbour to keep it from falling into German hands. The Maquis Vallier, a group of maquis resistance fighters, was active. On 15 August 1944 American and Free French forces land at Saint-Tropez, Sainte-Maxime and Saint-Raphaël. The Free French fleet arrived at Toulon on 13 September.

In the 1960s about 100,000 French citizens were repatriated from Algeria following the Algerian War of Independence and settled in the Var department. In 2014, Fréjus Mayor David Rachline became the first Senator from Var elected under the National Front (later National Rally) banner; alongside Stéphane Ravier from neighbouring Bouches-du-Rhône, the two became the first National Front members of the Senate under the Fifth Republic.


The Var department has a surface area of 6,032 km2. It had 420 km of coastline, including the offshore islands. 56% of its surface area is covered with forest. Its geological formations are divided into two regions; one composed of limestone to the northwest of a line between Toulon and Draguignan and of crystalline rock (quartz) to the southeast.

The department is in the foothills of the French Alps and largely mountainous. Major mountains include:

The plateau of Canjuers (French: Plan de Canjuers) in the northeast of Var gradually rises from 500 to 1,000 metres. In the south and west there are several plateaus, such as the plateau of Siou Blanc to the north of Toulon, which rise from 400 to 700 metres in altitude.


Verdon Gorge 796297037 90bb1a206f b gorges du Verdon.jpg
Verdon Gorge
Iles d'Hyeres Plage-de-la-courtade.jpg
Îles d'Hyères

The department of Var has a Mediterranean climate, slightly warmer, drier and sunnier than Nice and the Alpes-Maritimes, but is also less sheltered from the wind. Toulon has an average of 2899.3 hours of sunshine each year. [4] The average maximum daily temperature in August is 29.1 °C, and the average daily minimum temperature in January is 5.8 °C. [4] The average annual rainfall is 665 mm. [4] Winds exceeding 16 m/s (57.6 km/h) blow an average of 116 days per year in Toulon, [4] compared with 77 days per year at Fréjus further east. [5]


Population development since 1801:

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
YearPop.±% p.a.
Figures before 1861 refer to the old department of Var. Sources: [6] [7]

Principal towns

In 2019, the population of Var was 1,076,711, of whom 51% live in the agglomeration (urban unit) of Toulon, the prefecture and most populous commune. [8] As of 2019, there are nine communes with more than 20,000 inhabitants: [3]

CommunePopulation (2019)
La Seyne-sur-Mer62,232
Fréjus 55,750
Draguignan 39,433
Saint-Raphaël 36,027
La Garde25,505
La Valette-du-Var24,087
† part of the Toulon agglomeration


In the 2017 French presidential election, Marine Le Pen of the National Front won a majority of the vote in Var in the first round, with François Fillon of The Republicans placing second. Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! won a majority in the second round.

In the 2022 French presidential election, Le Pen of the National Rally (formerly National Front) won a majority in Var in both rounds.

Departmental Council of Var

The Departmental Council of Var comprises 46 seats. In the 2021 departmental election, 26 seats were won by The Republicans (LR), 13 by miscellaneous right candidates, 3 by the Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI), 2 by the National Rally (RN) and 2 by miscellaneous centre candidates. Var currently has no left-wing departmental councillors.

Since 2022, La Garde Mayor Jean-Louis Masson (LR) has been President of the Departmental Council of Var. His governing majority comprises all councillors except the two elected under the National Rally banner, who form the opposition.

Representation in Paris

Members of the National Assembly

In the 2017 legislative election, Var elected the following representatives to the National Assembly:

ConstituencyMember [9] Party
Var's 1st constituency Geneviève Levy The Republicans
Var's 2nd constituency Valérie Lacroute La République En Marche!
Var's 3rd constituency Jean-Louis Masson The Republicans
Var's 4th constituency Sereine Mauborgne La République En Marche!
Var's 5th constituency Philippe Michel-Kleisbauer Democratic Movement
Var's 6th constituency Valérie Gomez-Bassac La République En Marche!
Var's 7th constituency Émilie Guerel La République En Marche!
Var's 8th constituency Fabien Matras La République En Marche!

In the 2022 legislative election, Var elected the following representatives to the National Assembly:

Var's 1st constituency Yannick Chenevard La République En Marche!
Var's 2nd constituency Laure Lavalette National Rally
Var's 3rd constituency Stéphane Rambaud National Rally
Var's 4th constituency Philippe Lottiaux National Rally
Var's 5th constituency Julie Lechanteux National Rally
Var's 6th constituency Frank Giletti National Rally
Var's 7th constituency Frédéric Boccaletti National Rally
Var's 8th constituency Philippe Schrek National Rally

Members of the Senate

In the 2020 Senate election, Jean Bacci, Michel Bonnus, Françoise Dumont and André Guiol were elected from Var. All sit with the Senate Republicans group, except Guiol who sits with the European Democratic and Social Rally group.


The principal industry of Var is tourism, thanks largely to the big summer influx of tourists to the South of France and the Mediterranean coast in particular, but also inland to the Verdon River Canyon and hilltop villages and vineyards.


Bormes-les-Mimosas Bormes 029.jpg
Cascade de Sillans Cascade de Sillans.jpg
Cascade de Sillans
Saint-Tropez Saint Tropez Ville.jpg

Popular tourist attractions in Var include:


The construction industry employs 28,000 workers in the Var of which 4,000 work alone and 4,500 companies employ the remaining 24,000 salaried workers. Industry generates an annual turnover of €2.5 billion. Of this, €500 million is derived from public works. [10]


800 km2 or 13% of the total area is dedicated to agriculture, on which 40,000 people (14% of the Var working population) depend for their livelihoods. The department also has 10 km2 of horticultural land (of which 4 km2 are covered). Var is France's largest grower of cut flowers, producing some 500 million stems a year. Livestock farming is mainly sheep (50,000) and goats (4,200). Vines and viticultural related activities account for 345 km2 of farmland. The 450 domaines or coopératives and the 4 AOCs ( appellation d'origine contrôlée ) produce 150 million litres of wine a year. Var leads the world in the production of rose wine.

Other important agricultural products include olives (cultivated on 42 km2 of land—a quarter of all French olive groves—and processed in 40 mills), figs (the Var produces 80% of France's figs), and honey (800 tonnes per year). There are also 9 km2 of market gardens.

Agricultural turnover in Var is 610 million per year, of which 45% is sales of wines and 42% of horticultural products. [11]

In 2008 the Var department received approximately €15 million in farm subsidies under the EU Common Agriculture Policy, an average of about €6,000 per recipient farm. This compares with an average across France as a whole of over €18,000 per farm. [12]


See also

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  2. "Téléchargement du fichier d'ensemble des populations légales en 2020". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 29 December 2022.
  3. 1 2 Populations légales 2019: 83 Var, INSEE
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Normales et records météorologiques - Infoclimat". Retrieved 2023-11-06.
  5. "Normales et records météorologiques - Infoclimat". Retrieved 2023-11-06.
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  7. "Évolution et structure de la population en 2016". INSEE.
  8. Comparateur de territoires, INSEE. Urban unit of Toulon corrected for Ceyreste and La Ciotat, that are in Bouches-du-Rhône.
  9. Nationale, Assemblée. "Assemblée nationale ~ Les députés, le vote de la loi, le Parlement français". Assemblée nationale.
  10. Var Matin. Monday 9 June 2008.
  11. Var Matin and Le Magazin du Conseil général du Var.