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Introduction to Aix-en-Provence
     
Welcome to a country renowned for its history and fabled for its beauty. The heart of a region where man and nature, in rare alliance, have made a pact of mutual respect, lies Aix-en-Provence, one of the earliest Roman colonies of ancient Gaul. Those who know it often sneak back in spirit, to nourish memories that are important to them.  
     
     

Following the French revolution, Aix, its ancient capital, was demoted to the rank of sub-prefecture in the newly created department of "les Bouches du Rhône". Aix’s eclipse was immediate and lasting, its swagger and pride lamed by a preferment accorded to Marseille, its bustling neighbour to the south. For over an hundred and fifty years the population of Aix dwindled ; from capital of an important region Aix became a modest market town, home to an ancient university and to the law courts, a distant echo of the court and parliament that once reigned over a large province.

"Modern" Aix dates from the post 1939 - 1945 era. Expansion came with the construction of a new university to the south of town, the International Music Festival (1948), the Institute for Foreign Students, and the Institute for American Universities, all contributing to its international renown. The local population grew from 30,000 in 1930 to 70,000 in 1959, just before the arrival of thousands of displaced persons from North Africa. Buildings sprouted along the roads leading into town, and Aix became, at the same time, a dormitory for Marseille and the industrial complexes implanted around the Etang de Berre to the south, the atomic research centre at Cadarache to the north, and more recently the hi-tech zone of Rousset on the road to Nice.

As a base camp for exploring the region of Aix with its over forty hotels offering accomodation at all prices is increasingly an ideal place to start. At least two days are needed for exploring the city and its immediate surrounds. History, climate, land, and water, art and architecture are a banquet for body and soul. Those who come once, come back and bringing their families along !
 
     
     

 


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