Travel through history
Fréjus' 2000 year history interspersed with majestic monuments closely and fascinatingly links the past and present. Founded by the all-powerful Romans by Julius Caesar, traversed by Siéyès and the French Revolution, paid a call by Napoleon Bonaparte and now in the centre of the world with the its naval troops. Here, history reads like an open book or a hand caressessing worn stones.
The Episcopal Group
The episcopal group in Fréjus is a set of four exceptional monuments.
The cathedral marks the entry of the bishopric in the region in the year 374, gradually changing over the years. The baptistery, an important witness to the expansion of Christianity, marked many souls with its blessing and the eyes fixed on its marble and granite columns still admire its beauty and its era.
The cloister is an open book that represents the world in the 14th century: its decorated woodwork is unique in France. The Episcopal Palace, now the town hall, proudly displays its medieval façade and secretly preserves the treasures of its past.
The Roman aqueduct
42 km long, 481 m fall, 36 arches in only 20 years of construction, the Roman aqueduct in Fréjus is an exceptional structure. For the curious, lovers of antiquity or contemplative poets it was and continues to be a source… of admiration. Victor Hugo himself wrote: “The new and complete aqueduct was probably beautiful two thousand years ago, but it was no more beautiful than this gigantic collapse spread over the plain, running, falling, rising. Ivy and bramble hang from all these magnificences of Rome and time”.
Designed by the Greeks and then copied by the Romans, the Roman theatre in Fréjus is a space dedicated to art where actors, poets and musicians of antiquity performed. A popular gathering place, the Roman theatre in Fréjus is still with us 2000 years later, bruised by being abandoned, emaciated by the passage of time, but ennobled by the history it reveals and safeguards. Refurbished to allow it to return to its original function, the Roman theatre today boasts a contemporary structure combining iron with the vestiges of a great civilization.
Proudly erected on the outskirts of the city, Fréjus’ Roman amphitheatre stands out as one of its emblematic monuments. Now able to welcome some five thousand spectators and more than double that of its heyday, it is the testimony of a great people that loved games, entertainment and gladiator fights.
Of Italian Renaissance inspiration, there are 2 Palladian villas (in reference to the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio) in France including Villa Aurélienne in Fréjus. Built at the end of the 19th century, it takes its name from the Roman Via Aurelia, whose route is nearby. The Villa overlooks a huge wooded park and delights in the heterogeneity of its influences (ancient, classical, oriental). A holiday residence originally, it now lends itself to the excitement of summer cultural festivities.
A large model of the Roman city of Forum Iulii, realized in 2006, welcomes you in the entrance hall of the museum. The collections are presented in four rooms of the 13th and 16th century of the Episcopal Group in Fréjus. In each of them, through objects from archaeological digs carried out from the 17th to the 20th century, aspects of the history, urban planning, economy and daily life of the city during the Roman era is covered.
The Missiri Mosque
Like a mirage, the Missiri Mosque rises up in the Fréjus landscape , bursting with ochre, breaking into the azur blue sky. Unusual monument that is unique in France, it is faithful to the architecture of the mosques in West Africa. But it is a mosque in name only: it was more a reception and meeting place which, for a while, gave the Senegalese riflemen that landed in 1917, the cordial atmosphere of the country which they had left.
Chapelle Notre Dame de Jérusalem
Warm and contemporary, the Notre Dame de Jérusalem chapel otherwise known as Chapelle Cocteau is among the range of eclectic monuments around the heart of the city.
There are sensual curves drawn by Cocteau, dancing and hugging the rhythm of sunbeams tinged with stained glass. Between the drawings of a poet soon swept away by disease and the works of the artists who succeed him, visitors can explore a world peopled with naive and delicate looking holy characters.
Barrage de Malpasset
On 2 December 1959, tearing the night apart, a 40 meter high wave broke through Malpasset dam and stormed down the valley until it reached Fréjus. Built as a tribute to the glory and wealth of the region, the dam sadly resulted in disaster and despair. Nestled in the Reyran valley, the dam is still visible as the petrified testimony of the greatest civilian disaster of the 20th century.
Indochina War Memorial
The outskirts of the city are home to the heavy toll of past wars in Indochina. The Memorial is a place for contemplation, dedicated to soldiers and civilians that died for France and were brought back home. There are a total of 24 thousand graves in the adjoining necropolis, in a perfect circle with modern and solemn architecture. Imbued with the patriotic sacrifice, once you enter the circle you will be overcome with emotion .
Statue of General Agricola
General Agricola stands in the historic heart. Rippling muscles, military uniform of the famous 20th Legion, ladies and gentlemen, come and admire the harmonious perfection! Julius Agricola, better known for having been governor of Great Britain than for having been born in Fréjus, just missed out on the title of Roman Emperor! Standing on his pedestal, his youth and strength shape the sculpture, but the dark iron that forged it reveals the dark destiny that was ahead of him.
Musée des Troupes de Marine
Le Musée des Troupes de Marine de Fréjus vous invite à découvrir l’histoire de la France d’outre-mer et des Troupes de Marine. Les armes, qui ont donné ses empires coloniaux à la France, nous révèlent leur histoire au fil des vitrines. C’est d’ailleurs l’armement qui sert de fil conducteur à la visite du Musée des Troupes de Marine dont les multiples collections font un beau témoignage de l’ingénierie de l’Armée à travers les siècles.
Fermé temporairement pour travaux.
Black Army Memorial
Monument to the glory of the African army that died for France in the First World War, the Black Army Memorial sculpture pays homage to the contingents from the French colonies that were in Fréjus from 1915. The work is immersive: solemn setting, serious faces. Full of symbols, it is the sense of the sacrifice that is perceived through the stylized bodies andthe faces looking to the sky. The epitaph, by Léopold Sédar Senghor, says: “Passersby, they fell fraternally united so that you could stay French”.
Musée d’Histoire Locale
The museum of local history is a return to the beginning: it is about respecting ancestral traditions, farm work, and the people that loved the land which they shaped in their image. Provence offers you everything authentic and you want more! Discover or rediscover the small and great histories of Provence and Fréjus in the 19th and 20th centuries at the Musée d’histoire locale. You will get a feel for the day to day lives of our elders, with all its toil, sorrows and shared happiness.
The Roman pools
Unique in France, the remains are in an unusual place, the Roman pools in Fréjus are a recent discovery found less than ten years ago. In mysterious dark obscurity you reach an archeological crypt where several fish ponds and their water filling system worthy of the Roman’s engineering skills are revealed.
The arch and pillars still standing, Porte d’Orée is adorned with its finest shades of sandstone that lightens and darkens in rhythm with the sun, coexisting with brick, the Roman’s favourite building material. Unique testimony of the presence of ancient baths in Fréjus, its misleading name does not make it a door, even less a gilded one, but one of the arches in the large cold bath room.
Pagode Hông Hien Tû
You are in happy Fréjus. Yet crossing a beautiful park the Hông Hiên Tu pagoda invites you on a spiritual Buddhist journey. Respecting the traditional architecture of Vietnamese Buddhism and adorned everywhere with sacred statues, its shimmering colours add to its exoticism.
Built at the request of Indochinese soldiers based in Fréjus in 1915, the pagoda allowed them to practice their religion with dignity. The oldest pagoda in Europe, it still remains active today.
Porte des Gaules
The Porte des Gaules, now filled with stone and history, reveals its beauty through wild caper bushes that pierce it from all sides. Nowadays impenetrable, with its monumental pillars it nevertheless unfailingly testifies to the greatness of the Roman city of which it was one of the four principal entrances. It would appear to be a romantic illustration in which nature and old stones covet and unite. And as if by magic, the Porte des Gaules disappears and reappears depending on whether we see it or deign to look at it.
The Roman rampart
The Roman rampart in Fréjus is a “beautiful ruin” as Victor Hugo wrote. Remains trapped in a smothering of intertwined branches, it is still visible right in the middle of a garden. Follow the path in the park and your discovery will be punctuated by walls, towers, and arches, all from this Roman wall. This stone colossus which encircled and protected Forum Iuli (Fréjus) was the first testimony to the grandeur of the city that a stranger saw upon arrival.
Today completely filled in, the ancient port of Fréjus, the remains of which were listed as a Historical Monument in 1886, is located inland. The entrance to the port was marked by a construction known as the “Lanterne d’Auguste”.