Malpasset Fréjus : Fréjus Tourism

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83600 Fréjus

Historical heritage

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The Malpasset Dam is known for the disaster it caused in December 2, 1959. Today it is the end point of hike leading up to the ruins.

The decision to build a dam in the Var was taken just after the Second World War. It was urgent to establish a reserve of water for crop irrigation in the Var, a department in which rainfall is very irregular.

Valley Reyane is chosen : here a torrent, dry in summer and in spate during the winter, flows. The dam was built under the direction of Andrew Coyne, a specialist in the arch dam. It was opened in 1954. It allowed the irrigation of the plain near Fréjus.

Unfortunately, during the years that followed, the rains were insufficient and expropriation problems made ​​it impossible to fill the dam. But in 1959, were torrential rains and water rose too quickly in the dam for the controls to be performed normally.

The dam gave way on December 2nd, 1959 at 9:13 p.m.. A huge wave of 40 meters, then rushed down the valley at a speed of 70 km/h, destroying everything in its path until it flowed into the sea in Fréjus, 20 minutes later.

The disaster killed 423 people, and destroyed 2.5 km of railway tracks, 500 farms and 80,000 hectoliters of wine.


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