Barrage de Malpasset and Saint Tropez

Blick auf Saint-Tropez

Today's destination was the beautiful port of Saint-Tropez. Because the journey via the coastal road is very time-consuming, we left Nice early in the morning.

Malpasset Dam

On the way to Saint-Tropez we first visited a dam ruin. The Barrage de Malpasset (French Barrage = dam) was a dam in Provence north of Fréjus. It was completed in 1954 and, with its reservoir through the River Reyran, served to supply water and irrigate a nearby plain. On December 2, 1959, at 9:13 p.m., the dam collapsed without much warning, sending a tidal wave about 40 meters down into the valley. Unfortunately, about 421 people died.

Ruine des Barrage de Malpasset
Ruins of the Malpasset Dams

We approached the former dam (Site de Malpasset, coordinates: 43° 30′ 44″ N, 6° 45′ 24″ E) from the north. In good weather, the unpaved paths are also passable without a jeep. However, we would like to point out that we drove through open barriers and we cannot guarantee that they will always be open. However, it is also possible, and after heavy rainfall, to even recommend driving from the south. There is also a parking lot from which you can walk to the dam in about 2 kilometers. You walk through the former riverbed of the Reyran mountain stream and come out at the foot of the dam.

Im ehemaligen Staubecken
In the former reservoir

The wall was almost completely eroded by the force of the water. Only a few parts of the wall on the right bank (seen in the direction of flow) remained almost intact. Fragments of the wall, some the size of a house, lie several hundred meters downstream. The Barrage de Malpasset was a double-curved equal-angle dam with a variable radius about 66 m high above the foundation level, about 222 m long at its crown and had a construction volume of 47,857 m³ (source: Wikipedia). What surprised us was that there were hardly any steel inserts in the ruin. Actually, the entire dam was just concrete and rock. How could you build something like that? There's more iron in the foundation for our garage! However, the cause was later determined to be an undiscovered fissure in the rock. Water is said to have penetrated unnoticed and the resulting pressure lifted the wall from its foundation.

Port Grimaud

After exploring the 'engineering' of the French, we continued to Port Grimaud. This lagoon settlement was designed by architect François Spoerry in 1964 and has been touted by many as the Venice of Provence. However, before we explored the village, we packed our bathing suits together. We finally wanted to cool down in the Mediterranean at 24°C outside temperature. Unfortunately the water was just way too cold. It really hurt the first time you put your feet in. But now that we've been here, at least it went in waist-deep for a moment.

Then we looked at the port village of Port Grimaud. Its brightly whitewashed, tiled houses were all built on stilts in the water of the bay. You can explore the many small canals yourself with an electric motor boat. But this was too expensive for us at €25 for 30 minutes. So we just sat down on a bench and ate our lunch. We enjoyed the view of the great yachts. Don't plan a lot of time for a visit. Many paths ended for us at a gate or private path.

Port Grimaud
Port Grimaud

Saint Tropez

We continued to our actual destination for the day: Saint-Tropez. We parked in one of the large parking lots right by the port. However, these are also quite expensive, but you can be sure that your car will still be standing at the end of the day. First we went to the old police station "Gendarmerie Nationale". This building is known from the Louis de Funès films "Gendarme of Saint-Tropez".

Gendarmerie Nationale
National Gendarmerie

Then we strolled through the harbor. This port area is primarily characterized by numerous artists who either paint directly on site or sell their pictures. We were a little disappointed by the yachts that were docked. The port in Cannes or Monaco offers more.

Anyone who is in Saint-Tropez should not miss a visit to La Citadelle. Although this was closed at the time of our visit, the circular route offers some beautiful vantage points. For example, on the west side we had a beautiful view of the villas that stand along the coast.

Are you still looking for a suitable hotel on the Côte d'Azur?

You can find a hotel that suits your budget through the various online travel agencies such as Agoda,,,Expedia,,, opodo, or

Blick auf Saint-Tropez
View of Saint Tropez


My name is Christian and I was born in the green heart of Germany and studied computer engineering in Ilmenau, Thuringia. Since 2021, I live with my wife Christin and our son in Merseburg and work in Leipzig as a product manager. What I love about travelling is flying, discovering delicious food and drink, and staying in great hotels. I am a travel enthusiast and always on the lookout for the next adventure. I have been posting about my experiences on the road since 2007.

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