Fréjus, with a population of nearly 50,000 (which triples in the summer months), is a very big town compared to the hamlets of the massifs. But the Mediterranean ambiance takes the edge off any sense of urban pressure. The Roman founders must have also felt the call to what the locals term la farnienté (pronounced far-NYEN-tay), which is borrowed from Italian and means loafing around). Some of the many ruins scattered about suggest that, along with its sister town Saint Raphaël which is right next door, Fréjus was a Roman vacation resort.
Fréjus dates from the first century AD , when it was a stop along the Aurelian Way between Italy and Spain. It was then called Forum Julii. Later it became a center of the early church and a fourth-century bishopric.
Today, Fréjus has 29 protected historic monuments from both the Roman and medieval periods, including the remains of a Roman arena, an aqueduct and a theater as well as a medieval baptistry that is one of the oldest in France.
Save them all for a rainy day and go to the beach! About a mile and a half outside the town center of Fréjus, the beach is a long expanse of soft white sand, 90 m/300 feet wide and more than a mile long. For the Med beyond the Camargue, this is very wide indeed.
There are plenty of places to arrange windsurfing, parascending and power boat rentals. Fréjus has a particularly good diving center and one of the only systems of wetland lagoons between the Camargue and the Italian border.
Fréjus' old town, a five-minute drive from the beach, is a complete change of pace from the flash of the coast. Its winding, cobbled streets and medieval stone houses are more like the rustic Provence of the interior. Even in the crowded summer months, the old town is relatively calm – and the shops are full of wonderful surprises.
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