Skip to main content
France, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Frejus, View of St Raphael with the Notre Dame de la Victoire de Lepante church reflecting in the sea at dusk

Frejus, France

Although today it is cut off from the sea, Fréjus was the second-largest naval port in the Roman empire in the 1st Century B.C. The town’s name descends from Forum Julii, the retirement center for the 8th Legion. The Roman ruins in the area are what draws most visitors today, and the massive pillars of the aqueducts, sections of walls and the crumbling remains of the tree-shaded theater and amphitheater are picturesquely situated and satisfying. In the town center, a central square faces the medieval stone cathedral and its adjacent cloisters, with impressive doors, handsomely carved woodwork and elaborate ceilings. Outside town, the 1889 Palladian Villa Aurelienne sits amid 60 acres of Mediterranean gardens. Fréjus suffered a terrible flood in 1959 when runoff from unprecedented rains swept down the mountains and broached the dam at Malpasset. The ruined site is a reminder of man’s fragility in the face of Nature’s power. On another hilltop, the small, octagonal Chapel of Notre Dame de Jerusalem is richly decorated with stained glass windows and colorful frescoes designed by the artist Jean Cocteau and completed after his death.