The Var (department number 83) is located in southeastern France in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.
The Var department has an estimated population of 898,441 (approximate in 1999) and is named after the Var River, although the river does not actually flow through the department. The capital of the Var is the city of Toulon, with the larger towns of Brignoles and Draguignan within the immediate area.
Agriculture features heavily in Var. The department is famous for its wine production - the town of Bandol in particular for its red wine. Other important agricultural products include olives, figs - the Var produces 80% of France's figs, and honey (800 tonnes a year). Var is also France's largest grower of cut flowers, producing some 500 million stems a year.
Why you should visit Var for your next holiday in France
Everything beautiful – landscape, beaches, resorts, climate, even the people – can be found in the Var. As part of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, the department enjoys the reputation of being one of the most exclusive areas of France.
With 341,000 hectares of forest, the Var is the second most wooded department of France after Landes. The 432 kms of coastline is made up of fine sand, rocky caps and wild creeks. Magnificent natural sites including Verdon Canyon are there to be explored.
With such a diverse landscape, all activities are catered for from windsurfing or rock climbing to pleasurable strolls in the Provencal countryside.
The department enjoys an idyllic climate of long warm summers with temperatures reaching 35C and mild winters. From June onwards there is practically no rain. The only unfriendly aspect is the mistral, a dry cold wind from the north, which can last from three to nine days at any time in spring or autumn, bringing sharp falls in temperature.
What to see in Var
Located on the desirable Azure coast, Toulon has a very Mediterranean feel, with all the colours, sights and smells characteristic of Provence. The city has everything to offer both in terms of art and nature.
Brignoles is a large market town lying slightly to the west of the centre of the Var department of Provence in the south-east of France. It was once a major mining centre and supplier of natural marble. These days, however, the town relies more on the supply of peaches, honey, olives and olive oil for its economy.
Every April, the town hosts one of the largest wine fairs in France called the Foire de Brignoles.
Brignoles has an authentic old quarter, where you can find the narrow, shady winding streets all around the town are the massive vineyards which produce the ever popular Côte de Provence wines.
As well as its old quaint side, the town is also a thriving and bustling modern centre with a variety of shops. Centrally situated in the Var, Brignoles is ideally placed for further exploration of this beautiful region.
This Provencal town is dominated by the Horloge Tower and has a Provence Arts and Popular Traditions museum. Draguignan oozes Provencal charm and is a nice place to sit in a local café and while away some time. The city is only 42 km from St. Tropez, and 80 km from Nice.
Tucked away at the tip of a peninsula, St Tropez holds court to the rich, the beautiful, the famous and the curious. Over the last 10 years it has smartened up its act considerably but some parts still feel a bit tacky. Although a bustling popular town with tourists, there is no railway station.
Despite expensive yachts continuing to outnumber the fishing boats in the village harbour, life carries on in the Place des Lices with the morning market. The tiny streets, lit up at night, include the usual exclusive shops, and on a warm evening there is the walk up to the ramparts.
There are nearby beaches including Pamplona and Tahiti, some of which are served by frequent mini buses from St Tropez. Parking charges by the sand are high.
St Raphaël with its sandy beach, promenade and Art Nouveau buildings is simpler, old style chic. A short drive away inland is Fréjus, known for its two historic Roman sites.
How to get to Var
The region is easily accessible by air from most countries. The main international airports are Marseilles and Nice. Low cost airlines operate to both from the UK. Air France travels from major London airports directly to Toulon, located in the Var.
Calais to Toulon is approx 1135 km and will take approximately 10 hours. Roads along the Cote d'Azur do become very busy in the summer months.
High speed TGV trains take about 3 hours from Paris to Marseilles and also serve Toulon, Cannes and Nice.