Legion of Honour
The Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte and retained by all French governments and régimes. The order's motto is Honneur et Patrie, its seat is the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur next to the Musée d'Orsay, on the left bank of the Seine in Paris; the order is divided into five degrees of increasing distinction: Chevalier, Commandeur, Grand officier, Grand-croix. During the French Revolution, all of the French orders of chivalry were abolished, replaced with Weapons of Honour, it was the wish of Napoleon Bonaparte, the First Consul, to create a reward to commend civilians and soldiers. From this wish was instituted a Légion d'honneur, a body of men, not an order of chivalry, for Napoleon believed that France wanted a recognition of merit rather than a new system of nobility. However, the Légion d'honneur did use the organization of the old French orders of chivalry, for example the Ordre de Saint-Louis; the insignia of the Légion d'honneur bear a resemblance to those of the Ordre de Saint-Louis, which used a red ribbon.
Napoleon created this award to ensure political loyalty. The organization would be used as a façade to give political favours and concessions; the Légion d'honneur was loosely patterned after a Roman legion, with legionaries, commanders, regional "cohorts" and a grand council. The highest rank was not a Grand Cross but a Grand aigle, a rank that wore the insignia common to a Grand Cross; the members were paid, the highest of them generously: 5,000 francs to a grand officier, 2,000 francs to a commandeur, 1,000 francs to an officier, 250 francs to a légionnaire. Napoleon famously declared, "You call these baubles, well, it is with baubles that men are led... Do you think that you would be able to make men fight by reasoning? Never; that is good only for the scholar in his study. The soldier needs glory, rewards." This has been quoted as "It is with such baubles that men are led." The order was the first modern order of merit. Under the monarchy, such orders were limited to Roman Catholics, all knights had to be noblemen.
The military decorations were the perks of the officers. The Légion d'honneur, was open to men of all ranks and professions—only merit or bravery counted; the new legionnaire had to be sworn into the Légion d'honneur. It is noteworthy that all previous orders were crosses or shared a clear Christian background, whereas the Légion d'honneur is a secular institution; the badge of the Légion d'honneur has five arms. In a decree issued on the 10 Pluviôse XIII, a grand decoration was instituted; this decoration, a cross on a large sash and a silver star with an eagle, symbol of the Napoleonic Empire, became known as the Grand aigle, in 1814 as the Grand cordon. After Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the French in 1804 and established the Napoleonic nobility in 1808, award of the Légion d'honneur gave right to the title of "Knight of the Empire"; the title was made hereditary after three generations of grantees. Napoleon had dispensed 15 golden collars of the Légion d'honneur among his family and his senior ministers.
This collar was abolished in 1815. Although research is made difficult by the loss of the archives, it is known that three women who fought with the army were decorated with the order: Virginie Ghesquière, Marie-Jeanne Schelling and a nun, Sister Anne Biget; the Légion d'honneur was visible in the French Empire. The Emperor always wore it and the fashion of the time allowed for decorations to be worn most of the time; the king of Sweden therefore declined the order. Napoleon's own decorations were captured by the Prussians and were displayed in the Zeughaus in Berlin until 1945. Today, they are in Moscow. Louis XVIII changed the appearance of the order. To have done so would have angered the 35,000 to 38,000 members; the images of Napoleon and his eagle were removed and replaced by the image of King Henry IV, the popular first king of the Bourbon line. Three Bourbon fleurs-de-lys replaced the eagle on the reverse of the order. A king's crown replaced the imperial crown. In 1816, the grand cordons were renamed grand crosses and the legionnaires became knights.
The king decreed. The Légion d'honneur became the second-ranking order of knighthood of the French monarchy, after the Order of the Holy Spirit. Following the overthrow of the Bourbons in favour of King Louis Philippe I of the House of Orléans, the Bourbon monarchy's orders were once again abolished and the Légion d'honneur was restored in 1830 as the paramount decoration of the French nation; the insignia were drastically altered. In 1847, there were 47,000 members, yet another revolution in Paris brought a new design to the Légion d'honneur. A nephew of the founder, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, was elected president and he restored the image of his uncle on the crosses of the order. In 1852, the first recorded woman, Angélique Duchemin, an old revolutionary of the 1789 uprising against the absolute monarchy, was admitted into the order. On 2 December 1851, President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte staged a coup d'état with the help of the armed forces, he made himself Emperor of the French one year on 2 December 1852, after a successful plebiscite.
An Imperial crown was added. During Napoleon III's reign, the first American was admitted
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Toulon is a city in southern France and a large military harbour on the Mediterranean coast, with a major French naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, Toulon is the capital of the Var department; the Commune of Toulon has a population of 165,514 people, making it the fifteenth-largest city in France. It is the centre of an urban area with the ninth largest in France. Toulon is the fourth-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille and Montpellier. Toulon is an important centre for naval construction, wine making, the manufacture of aeronautical equipment, maps, tobacco, printing and electronic equipment; the military port of Toulon is the major naval centre on France's Mediterranean coast, home of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and her battle group. The French Mediterranean Fleet is based in Toulon. Archaeological excavations, such as those at the Cosquer Cave near Marseille, show that the coast of Provence was inhabited since at least the Paleolithic era.
Greek colonists came from Phocaea, Asia Minor, in about the 7th century BC and established trading depots along the coast, including one, called Olbia, at Saint-Pierre de l'Almanarre south of Hyères, to the east of Toulon. The Ligurians settled in the area beginning in the 4th century BC. In the 2nd century BC, the residents of Massalia called upon the Romans to help them pacify the region; the Romans began to start their own colonies along the coast. A Roman settlement was founded at the present location of Toulon, with the name Telo Martius – Telo, either for the goddess of springs or from the Latin tol, the base of the hill – and Martius, for the god of war. Telo Martius became one of the two principal Roman dye manufacturing centres, producing the purple colour used in imperial robes, made from the local sea snail called murex, from the acorns of the oak trees. Toulon harbour became a shelter for trading ships, the name of the town changed from Telo to Tholon and Toulon. Toulon was Christianized in the 5th century, the first cathedral built.
Honoratus and Gratianus of Toulon, according to the Gallia Christiana, were the first bishops of Toulon, but Louis Duchesne gives Augustalis as the first historical bishop. He assisted at councils in 441 and 442 and signed in 449 and 450 the letters addressed to Pope Leo I from the province of Arles. A Saint Cyprian and biographer of St. Cæsarius of Arles, is mentioned as a Bishop of Toulon, his episcopate, begun in 524, had not come to an end in 541. In 1095, a new cathedral was built in the city by Count Gilbert of Provence; as barbarians invaded the region and Roman power crumbled, the town was attacked by pirates and the Saracens. In 1486 Provence became part of France. Soon afterwards, in 1494, Charles VIII of France, with the intention of making France a sea power on the Mediterranean, to support his military campaign in Italy, began constructing a military port at the harbor of Toulon, his Italian campaign failed, 1497, the rulers of Genoa, who controlled commerce on that part of the Mediterranean, blockaded the new port.
In 1524, as part of his longtime battle against Emperor Charles V and the Holy Roman Empire, King François I of France completed a powerful new fort, the Tour Royale, Toulon, at the entrance of the harbour. However, a few months the commander of the new fort sold it to the commander of an Army of the Holy Roman Empire, Toulon surrendered. In 1543, Francis I found a surprising new ally in his battle against the Holy Roman Empire, he invited the fleet of Ottoman Admiral Barbarossa to Toulon as part of the Franco-Ottoman alliance. The residents were forced to leave, the Ottoman sailors occupied the town for the winter. See Ottoman occupation of Toulon. In 1646, a fleet was gathered in Toulon for the major Battle of Orbetello known as the Battle of Isola del Giglio, commanded by France's first Grand Admiral, the young Grand Admiral Marquis of Brézé, Jean Armand de Maillé-Bréze of 36 galleons, 20 galleys, a large complement of minor vessels; this fleet carried aboard an army of 8,000 infantry and 800 cavalry and its baggage under Thomas of Savoy, shortly before a general in Spanish service.
King Louis XIV was determined to make France a major sea power. In 1660, his Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert ordered Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban to build a new arsenal and to fortify the town. In 1707, during the War of the Spanish Succession, Toulon resisted a siege by the Imperial Army led by Duke Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia of Savoy and Prince Eugene. However, in 1720, the city was ravaged by the black plague. Thirteen thousand people, or half the population, died. In 1790, following the French Revolution, Toulon became the administrative centre of the département of the Var; the leaders of the city, were royalists, they welcomed the arrival of a British fleet. At the siege of Toulon, the British were expelled by a French force whose artillery was led by a young captain, Napoleon Bonaparte. To punish Toulon for its rebellion, the town lost its status as department capital and was renamed Port-de-la-Montagne. During the Napoleonic Wars, from 1803 until 1805 a British fleet led by Admiral Horatio Nelson blockaded Toulon.
In 1820, the statue which became known as the Venus de Milo was discovered on the Greek island of Milo and seen by a French naval officer, Emile Voutier. He persuaded t
National Order of Merit (France)
The National Order of Merit is a French order of merit with membership awarded by the President of the French Republic, founded on 3 December 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle. The reason for the order's establishment was twofold: to replace the large number of ministerial orders awarded by the ministries, it comprises about 187,000 members worldwide. The National Order of Merit replaced the following ministerial and colonial orders: Ordre de l'Étoile d'Anjouan Ordre du Nichan El-Anouar Ordre de l'Étoile Noire Ordre du Mérite social Ordre de la Santé publique Ordre du Mérite commercial et industriel Ordre du Mérite artisanal Ordre du Mérite touristique Ordre du Mérite combattant Ordre du Mérite postal Ordre de l'Économie nationale Ordre du Mérite sportif Ordre du Mérite du travail Ordre du Mérite militaire Ordre du Mérite civil Ordre du Mérite Saharien French citizens as well as foreign nationals and women, can be received into the order for distinguished military or civil achievements, though of a lesser level than that required for the award of the Legion of Honour.
The President of the French Republic is the Grand Master of the order and appoints all its members by convention on the advice of the Government of France. The order has a common Chancery with the Legion of Honour; every Prime Minister of France is made a Grand cross of the order after 24 months of service. The Order has five classes, the same as the Légion d’honneur: Three ranks: Knight: to be of a minimum age of 35, have a minimum of 10 years of public service, "distinguished merits" Officer: minimum of 5 years in the rank of Knight Commander: minimum of 5 years in the rank of Officer Two dignities: Grand Officer: minimum 3 years in the rank of Commander Grand Cross: minimum 3 years in the rank of Grand Officer Knight - wears the Medal on the left chest Officer - wears the Medal with rosette on the left chest Commander - wears the necklet on the neck for men and women Grand Officer - wears the Medal with rosette on the left chest, plus the Star on the right side of the stomach; the medal and the plaque of the Order were designed by the French sculptor Max Leognany.
The medal of the order is a six-armed Maltese asterisk in gilt enamelled blue, with laurel leaves between the arms. The obverse central disc features the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend République française; the reverse central disc has a set of crossed tricolores, surrounded by the name of the order and its foundation date. The badge is suspended by a laurel wreath; the star is worn by Grand Officier respectively. The central disc features the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend République française and the name of the Order, in turn surrounded by a wreath of laurel; the ribbon for the medal is a solid blue field. For the grade of Officier and above, a rosette is centered in the field. For the grades of Commandeur, Grand Officier, Grand-Croix, the rosette is centered bar of silver; the individuals listed below have been admitted as members of the National Order of Merit: List of Foreign recipients of the Ordre national du Mérite Order Ribbons of the French military and civil awards State decoration Sources France Phaléristique
National Assembly (France)
The National Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic, the upper house being the Senate. The National Assembly's members are known as députés. There are 577 députés, each elected by a single-member constituency through a two-round voting system. Thus, 289 seats are required for a majority; the assembly is presided over by a president from the largest party represented, assisted by vice-presidents from across the represented political spectrum. The term of the National Assembly is five years; this measure is becoming rarer since the 2000 referendum reduced the presidential term from seven to five years: a President has a majority elected in the Assembly two months after the presidential election, it would be useless for him/her to dissolve it for those reasons. Following a tradition started by the first National Assembly during the French Revolution, the "left-wing" parties sit to the left as seen from the president's seat, the "right-wing" parties sit to the right, the seating arrangement thus directly indicates the political spectrum as represented in the Assembly.
The official seat of the National Assembly is the Palais Bourbon on the banks of the river Seine. It is guarded by Republican Guards; the Constitution of the French Fifth Republic increased the power of the executive at the expense of Parliament, compared to previous constitutions. The President of the Republic can decide to dissolve the National Assembly and call for new legislative elections; this is meant as a way to resolve stalemates where the Assembly cannot decide on a clear political direction. This possibility is exercised; the last dissolution was by Jacques Chirac in 1997, following from the lack of popularity of prime minister Alain Juppé. The National Assembly can overthrow the executive government by a motion of no confidence. For this reason, the prime minister and his cabinet are from the dominant party or coalition in the assembly. In the case of a president and assembly from opposing parties, this leads to the situation known as cohabitation. While motions de censure are periodically proposed by the opposition following government actions that it deems inappropriate, they are purely rhetorical.
Since the beginning of the Fifth Republic, there has only been one single successful motion de censure, in 1962 in hostility to the referendum on the method of election of the President, President Charles de Gaulle dissolved the Assembly within a few days. The government used to set the priorities of the agenda for the assembly's sessions, except for a single day each month. In practice, given the number of priority items, it meant that the schedule of the assembly was entirely set by the executive. This, was amended on 23 July 2008. Under the amended constitution, the government sets the priorities for two weeks in a month. Another week is designated for the assembly's "control" prerogatives, and the fourth one is set by the assembly. One day per month is set by a "minority" or "opposition" group. Members of the assembly can ask oral questions to ministers; the Wednesday afternoon 3 p.m. session of "questions to the Government" is broadcast live on television. Like Prime Minister's Questions in Britain, it is a show for the viewers, with members of the majority asking flattering questions, while the opposition tries to embarrass the government.
The history of national representation for two centuries is linked to history of the democratic principle and the uneven road that it had to go before finding in the French institutions the consecration, its own today. Although the French have periodically elected representatives since 1789, the mode of appointment and the powers of these representatives have varied according to the times, the periods of erasure of the parliamentary institution coinciding with a decline in public liberties. In this respect, the names are not innocent; the name of National Assembly, chosen in the fervor of 1789, just reappears - if we except the short parenthesis of 1848 - in 1946. In the meantime, more or less reductive appellations "Instituted by the Constitution of the year III in August 1795," Chamber of deputies of the departments "," House of Representatives "," Legislative body "," Chambers of deputies ", etc.) which show, to varying degrees, the reluctance or the declared hostility of some governments or governments to the principle
The Senate is the upper house of the French Parliament. Indirectly elected by elected officials, it represents territorial collectivities of the Republic and French citizens living abroad; the Senate enjoys less prominence than the directly elected National Assembly. The Senate is housed inside the Luxembourg Palace in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, it is guarded by Republican Guards. In front of the building lies the Senate's gardens, the Jardin du Luxembourg, open to the public. France's first experience with an upper house was under the Directory from 1795 to 1799, when the Council of Ancients was the upper chamber. There were Senates in both the First and Second Empires, but these were only nominally legislative bodies – technically they were not legislative, but rather advisory bodies on the model of the Roman Senate. With the Restoration in 1814, a new Chamber of Peers was created, on the model of the British House of Lords. At first it contained hereditary peers, but following the July Revolution of 1830, it became a body to which one was appointed for life.
The Second Republic returned to a unicameral system after 1848, but soon after the establishment of the Second French Empire in 1852, a Senate was established as the upper chamber. In the Fourth Republic, the Senate was replaced by the Council of the Republic, but its function was the same. With the new Constitution of the Fifth Republic enforced on 4 October 1958, the older name of Senate was restored. In 2011, the Socialist Party won control of the Senate for the first time since the foundation of the Fifth Republic. In 2014, the centre-right Gaullists and its allies won back the control of the Senate. Under the Constitution of France, the Senate has nearly the same powers as the National Assembly. Bills may be submitted by either house of Parliament; because both houses may amend the bill, it may take several readings to reach an agreement between the National Assembly and the Senate. When the Senate and the National Assembly cannot agree on a bill, the administration can decide, after a procedure called commission mixte paritaire, to give the final decision to the National Assembly, whose majority is on the government's side, but as regarding the constitutionnal laws the administration must have the Senate's agreement.
This does not happen frequently. This power however gives the National Assembly a prominent role in the law-making process since the administration is of the same side as the Assembly, for the Assembly can dismiss the administration through a motion of censure; the power to pass a vote of censure, or vote of no confidence, is limited. As was the case in the Fourth Republic's constitution, new cabinets do not have to receive a vote of confidence. A vote of censure can occur only after 10 percent of the members sign a petition. If the petition gets the required support, a vote of censure must gain an absolute majority of all members, not just those voting. If the Assembly and the Senate have politically distinct majorities, the Assembly will in most cases prevail, open conflict between the two houses is uncommon; the Senate is the representative of the territories and defends the regions and mayors, see the article 24 of the Constitution. The Senate serves to monitor the administration's actions by publishing many reports each year on various topics.
Until September 2004, the Senate had 321 members, each elected to a nine-year term. That month, the term was reduced to six years, while the number of senators progressively increased to 348 in 2011, in order to reflect the country's population growth. Senators were elected in thirds every three years; the President of the Senate is elected by Senators from among their members. The current incumbent is Gérard Larcher; the President of the Senate is, under the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, first in the line of succession—in case of death, resignation or removal from office —to the presidency of the French Republic, becoming Acting President of the Republic until a new election can be held. This happened twice for Alain Poher—once at the resignation of Charles de Gaulle and once at the death of Georges Pompidou; the President of the Senate has the right to designate three of the nine members of the Constitutional Council, serving for nine years. Senators are elected indirectly by 150,000 officials, including regional councillors, department councillors, municipal councillors in large communes, as well as members of the National Assembly.
However, 90 % of the electors are delegates appointed by councillors. This system introduces a bias in the composition of the Senate favoring rural areas; as a consequence, while the political majority changes in the National Assembly, the Senate has remained politically right, with one brief exception, since the foundation of the Fifth Republic, much to the displeasure of the Socialists. This has spurred controversy after the 2008 election in which the Socialist Party, despite controlling all but two of France's regions, a majority of departments, as well as communes representing more than 50 % of the population, still failed to achieve a majority in the Senate. The
Var is a department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in Southeastern France. It takes its name from the river Var, which flowed along its eastern boundary, until the boundary was moved in 1860; the Var department is bordered on the east by the department of Alpes-Maritimes, to the west by Bouches-du-Rhône, to the north of the river Verdon by the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and to the south by the Mediterranean Sea. Toulon is the largest city and administrative capital of Var. Other important towns in Var include Fréjus, Saint-Raphaël, Brignoles, Hyères and La Seyne-sur-Mer. Var is known for the harbour of the main port of the French Navy; 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. Its capital was 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 to Draguignan in 1797.
It was not returned to Toulon until 1974. 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 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 elected a member of the National Assembly for the Var department from 1888 to 1893 and Senator from 1902 to 1920, during which time he served as Prime Minister; the First World War 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 one hundred thousand French citizens were repatriated from Algeria following the Algerian War of Independence and settled in the Var department; the department of Var has a surface area of 6,032 km2, 420 km of coastline, including the offshore islands. 56% of it is covered with forest. Its geological formations are divided into two regions; the department is in the foothills of the French Alps and mountainous. Major mountains include: Massif des Maures and Massif de l'Esterel, along the coast, are made of quartz rock; the Sainte-Baume mountain ridge, in the west.
Mountain of Lachens, in the northwest of the department, the highest point in the Var. The plateau of Canjuers in the northeast of Var 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; the Canyon du Verdon, the gorges of the Verdon River, is a popular place for hikers and nature lovers. The Îles d'Hyères is a group of three islands off Hyères The islands are named Porquerolles, Port-Cros, Île du Levant. Together, they make up an area of 26 km2, they can be reached by boat from either Toulon. The department of Var has a Mediterranean climate warmer and sunnier than Nice and the Alpes-Maritimes, but less sheltered from the wind. Toulon has an average of 2899.3 hours of sunshine each year. The average maximum daily temperature in August is 29.1 °C, the average daily minimum temperature in January is 5.8 °C. The average annual rainfall is 665 mm. Winds exceeding 16 m/s blow an average of 116 days per year in Toulon, compared with 77 days per year at Fréjus further east.
In 2007, the population of Var was estimated at 990,000, of whom nearly half live in and around Toulon. In 2004–2005, the population of the urban area of Toulon was estimated at 403,743 persons, of whom 160,639 lived in Toulon itself: 60,188 in La Seyne-sur-Mer; the population of other important towns, according to the 2004–2005 estimate: Fréjus – 49,100 Saint-Raphaël – 32,200 Draguignan – 35,500 Brignoles – 15,540 The principal industry of Var is tourism, thanks to the big summer influx of tourists to the Mediterranean coastal towns, to the Verdon River Canyon and hilltop villages of Var. Popular tourist attractions in Var include: The port and beaches of Saint-Tropez The seaside village of Sainte-Maxime, with waterfront promenade and restaurants, a ferry service to Saint-Tropez; the beach of Cavalaire-sur-Mer, the longest sand beach on the coast. Boat tours of the harbour, of Toulon, the main anchorage of the French Navy. Wind-surfing offshore of the peninsula of Giens Le Thoronet Abbey, one of the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monasteries in France.