Draguignan Tourist Attractions
Draguignan lies about 27km/17mi inland of Fréjus, north of the Massif des Maures and the Valley of the River Artuby which borders these mountains.In the fifth century the area was Christianized by Hermentarius, the first Bishop of Antibes. According to legend the Bishop had won the confidence of the inhabitants by killing a dragon which had threatened the whole countryside and laid it to waste. The name of the town also recalls this episode; it appears to be derived from "dragon" and the legendary monster figures in the arms of the town.In the 17th century when Anne of Austria was acting as a Regent for her under-aged son Louis XIV, the town was surrounded by a stout defensive wall. During the French Revolution Draguignan was the district capital and then the capital of the Département of Var.
The broad streets south of the Old Town of Draguignan, which are unusual in a small town, were laid out by Baron Haussmann who was largely responsible for the infrastructure of Paris (he was Prefect there from 1853 to 1870).
Tour de l'Horloge
Ursuline Convent Museum
Not far northwest of the clock tower, in the Rue de la République in Draguignan, stands a former 17th C Ursuline convent which was later the summer residence of the Bishop of Fréjus.It now houses a museum which has a number of treasures (Rembrandt: "Child blowing soap-bubbles"; Franz Hals: "Kitchen Interior", as well as paintings by Van Loo, J. Parrocel and Ziem, and a sculpture by Camille Claudel. Also notable are ceramics (Moustiers, Sèvres), furniture, French and Flemish 17th C painting, an illuminated manuscript (with pictures) of the "Roman de la Rose", the most important work of courtly poetry in France (12th C) and an illustrated Bible in Latin with 2,000 engravings which dates from 1493 and which came from a workshop in Nuremberg.
Entrecastaux castle and the village of Lorgues are outside of Draguignan.
The little town of Lorgues, 13km/8mi southwest of Draguignan, is a center for the production of olives and olive oil; it has a beautiful Old Town and a fine boulevard lined with plane-trees. In the Classic Collegiale St-Martin (parish church; 17th C.) can be seen a statue of the Virgin which is attributed to Pierre Puget.
Entrecastaux, situated to the west of Draguignan (31km/19mi via Salernes, or about 20km/12mi from Le Thoronet) has an impressive castle with severe architecture; this dates essentially from the 17th C. and was the seat of the Comte de Grignan, the stepson of Madame de Sévigné. The castle, which is open to the public, was renovated after the Thirty Years War and contains furniture and objets d'art from many countries. The spacious park was laid out by Le Nôtre who was also responsible for the park of Versailles. Entrecastaux itself, a medieval, typical Provençal village, with narrow streets and house facades, is a protected monument. Worth seeing are the fortified church of St-Sauveur, the 17th C. washing place and Notre Dame de l'Aube which dates from the 12th C.