Turn your back on modern times—the gargantuan, pink, holiday high-rises that crowd the Fréjus–St-Raphaël waterfront—and head uphill to Fréjus-Centre with its maze of narrow streets lined with butcher shops, patisseries, and neighborhood stores barely touched by the cult of the lavender sachet.

Fréjus (pronounced fray-zhooss) has the honor of having some of the most important historic monuments on the coast. Founded

in 49 BC by Julius Caesar himself and named Forum Julii, this quiet town was once a thriving Roman shipbuilding port with 40,000 citizens. In its heyday, Roman Fréjus had a theater, baths, and an enormous aqueduct that brought water all the way from Mons in the mountains, 45 km (28 miles) north of town. Today you can see the remains: a series of detached arches that follow the main Avenue du Quinzième Corps (leading up to the Old Town).

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