Port Fréjus lies at the eastern end of the town. A trendy Mediterranean place for boat owners and Yacht Charters, it is about halfway between the famous Mediterranean towns of St-Tropez and Cannes.
Transformed and rebuilt
Constructed in 1989, the Frejus port is one of the most recently built marinas in the entire French Riviera. You can tell this because of the modern layout of both the port and some parts of the town, close to the marina.
People often say Fréjus looks like a new holiday resort. But we must not forget that on 2 December 1959, the town was utterly devastated by the collapse of the Malpasset Dam, after heavy rainfall. The dam gave way, unleashing a 40-metre high wave into the valley. The enormous surge of water destroyed everything in its path, including much of the city. The town looks almost like a lunar landscape, in photos taken at the time. This terrible disaster cost 423 lives. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, a total transformation took place, rebuilding and improving the area.
Port Fréjus was created with the idea of effectively connecting the waterfront to the town centre. The current marina has little in common with the original ancient harbour. The well-designed Mediterranean layout can accommodate smaller boats, with 15 pontoons. There are 672 berths available in the marina for boats and yachts up to 15 m in length, including 29 visitor moorings for short stays. The port also has 30 pontoon berths for larger yachts with a maximum size of 30 m x 7 m, located close to the port entrance.
The history of Fréjus has inspired various inland marina extension projects. There is now a small canal, creating berths and moorings for as many as a 100 boats of up to 15 m in length. However, the berths are only suitable for boats with a low air draft due to a small bridge.
The origin of the town lies with the Celtic-Ligurian tribe who made their home close to the natural harbour of Aegytna. It is not known when the first settlement began, but it is considered to be before 43 BC. A comment appears in correspondence between Plancus and Cicero around 49 BC. Julius Caesar wished to create a stronghold in the area to overthrow Massilia (modern Marseilles), and founded the city as “Forum Julii” meaning “Market of Julius’. He named the port ‘Claustra Maris’, which means “Sea Barrier”.
The town became one of the most critical ports in the Mediterranean. It was the only naval base for the Roman fleet in Gaul. Significant monuments from Roman times are still visible today including the amphitheatre, aqueduct, lighthouse, baths and theatre. An impressive wall surrounded Forum Julii, spanning an area of 35 hectares.
Around 6,000 inhabitants lived protected within, under Roman rule. The defensive wall was 3.7 km in length, and the remains are still visible today on Mont Auriasque and Cap Capelin.
Fréjus became a famous market town for crafts and agricultural production. Fish farming and the mining of green sandstone and blue porphyry quartz contributed to a thriving local economy. In the 4th-century, Fréjus became the second-largest diocese of France. The first church was built in 374, but the first bishop was not ordained there until Saint-Léonce in 433.
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