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The town is situated on the French Riviera just north of Toulon, between La Seyne-sur-Mer and Saint-Tropez. It lies along the Estéron river. Its inhabitants are called "Sixfournais". It was founded in the 11th century when a hospice was founded under Saint Peter's protection, around which a settlement grew up that took its name from this saint and four other local saints whose relics were venerated there: St Roch (or Rocco), St Bartholomew (Barthelemy), St Catherine and Ste Martha. The village grew due to its position on the way to Provence; it had a harbour where ships could shelter from storms coming in from sea. In 1481, it became an independent republic with its own flag ("red cross over white background"). It had 22 villages dependent for defense against pirates or Saracens; these included Menton (now part of France) as well as Les Arcs & La Turbie - both now part of Monaco).