FREJUS, a town in the department of the Var in S.E. France. Pop. (1906) 3430. It is 28 m. S.E. of Draguignan (the chief town of the department), and 22 m. S.W. of Cannes by rail. It is only important on account of the fine Roman remains that it contains, for it is now a mile from the sea, its harbour having been silted up by the deposits of the Argens river. Since the 4th century it has been a bishop's see, which is in the ecclesiastical province of Aix en Provence. In modern times the neighbouring fishing village at St Raphaël (2 m. by rail S.E., and on the seashore) has become a town of 4865 inhabitants (in 1901); in 1799 Napoleon disembarked there, on his return from Egypt, and reembarked for Elba in 1814, while nowadays it is much frequented as a health resort, as is also Valescure (2 m. N.W. on the heights above). The cathedral church in part dates from the 12th century, but only small portions of the old medieval episcopal palace are now visible, as it was rebuilt about 1823. The ramparts of the old town can still be traced for a long distance, and there are fragments of two moles, of the theatre and of a gate. The amphitheatre, which seated 12,000 spectators, is in a better state of preservation. The ruins of the great aqueduct which brought the waters of the Siagnole, an affluent of the Siagne, to the town, can still be traced for a distance of nearly 19 m. The original hamlet was the capital of the tribe of the Oxybii, while the town of Forum Julii was founded on its site by Julius Caesar in order to secure to the Romans a harbour independent of that of Marseilles. The buildings of which ruins exist were mostly built by Caesar or by Augustus, and show that it was an important naval station and arsenal. But the town suffered much at the hands of the Arabs, of Barbary pirates, and of its inhabitants, who constructed many of their dwellings out of the ruined Roman buildings. The ancient harbour (really but a portion of the lagoons, which had been deepened) is now completely silted up. Even in early times a canal had to be kept open by perpetual digging, while about 1700 this was closed, and now a sandy and partly cultivated waste extends between the town and the seashore.
See J. A. Aubenas, Histoire de Fréjus (Fréjus, 1881); Ch. Lenthéric, La Provence Maritime ancienne et moderne (Paris, 1880), chap. vii.
(W. A. B. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)