Place:Aix-les-Bains, Savoie, France


Alt namesAquae Gratianaesource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 13
Coordinates45.683°N 5.917°E
Located inSavoie, France
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Aix-les-Bains (French:), locally called Aix, is a commune in the department of Savoie, in the southeastern French region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Situated on the shore of the largest natural lake of glacial origin in France, the Lac du Bourget, this resort is a major French spa town, and has the largest freshwater marina in France. It is the second-largest Savoy town in terms of population, having 28,585 inhabitants at the last census, and is part of its own urban area: The .

A leading town of the Belle Époque, of international renown, Aix-les-Bains was a vacation destination for nobility and the wealthy. Although the thermal baths are no longer the main attraction in Aix, the area continues to be draw visitors for water sports and activities. The town has partially compensated for the loss of visitors coming for spa treatments by developing tourism. It hosts up to 200,000 general visitors annually, between tourists and people seeking mineral bath therapy.

In addition to thermal baths and tourism, Aix-les-Bains is known for its national Musilac festival. Also, with several labels including Touristic Resort, Flowery City with Four Flowers and a Golden Flower (exceptional), City of Art and History, a 5@ (five-star or top-grade equivalent) , and . However, Aix is also an industrial town, with a few large companies such as Alstom, the headquarters of the Léon Grosse companies, ABB Cellier, Aixam, and a high-quality leather goods factory.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The history of Aix-les-Bains is directly related to the Lac du Bourget and especially to its hot springs which made it a spa among the most renowned in the world. The historical analysis of the town must be closer to the history of the Savoy, if we are to better understand its evolution and its cultural influences. Below are periods and historical highlights of the commune of Aix-les-Bains.

Aquae: Roman Aix

Historians agree that Aix was born from its sources of water to Ancient Rome, on the remains of a Celtic habitat. The first occupation of the site has been dated by Alain Canal to the first century BCE, however there is nothing to suggest these remains were a fixed habitat. We are left with the remains in public institutions and it would be difficult to draw a sketch of ancient Aquae. The administrative situation of the place is known by epigraphy, which teaches us that Aix was, in the 1st century AD, a vicus, with a board of decemlecti (a council of ten members), and was administratively part of Vienne. Some citizens lived there with, apparently, quite important resources to offer to the gods, a sacred wood, a vine or to build a funeral arch for the case of the Campanii family.

During their excavations, archaeologists have discovered a large thermal complex, in close proximity to its sources. On a lower terrace, to the west, was the Arch of Campanus, probably built in the 1st century, and more downstream, a second terrace carried the temple said to be dedicated to Diana, which had replaced a more ancient circular edifice by the 2nd century, which was probably contemporary with the Arch of Campanus. Remains of a necropolis have been cleared north of the temple. The Parc des Thermes, and various other locations scattered in the town, contain numerous and very varied remains, such as remains of the necropolis and pottery, etc. However, there is no centrepiece which would have led to extensive archaeological excavations. Otherwise, we know nothing of the Gallo-Romans of the Aquae vicus, in scope or in the provision of the habitat. Where did the "Romans" live? Where were their farms, the villages of their staff; What were the activities of the vicus? The mystery is still present. The only clues come from the archaeological map of the remains by archaeological services of the DRAC, and for archaeologist Alain Canal to conclude, "Paradoxically, if Aix has delivered many documents illustrating the age of the site and the quality of the monumental town planning from the beginning of the Roman Empire, we have no precise knowledge about the order of this town."

As a synthesis, the history of the period can be reduced to the occupation of the town centre site from the 1st century BCE, followed by a gradual development of the area between the 1st and 2nd centuries. Occupation seems to be made from the progressive construction of the thermal complex, around which radiated monumental buildings presented on a system of terraces, which had evolved several times during the Roman period. If hot springs were originally the reason for choosing the location, other factors, such as the quality of the site, may have been decisive.

From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance

The already poor knowledge of Aix history from Roman times is further obscured due to the lack of sources regarding the end of the Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages. We are left to conjecture by studying the destruction from the barbarian invasions that have left traces of fires on Gallo-Roman villas of the area, such as at Arbin. The fact remains that the Roman Baths of Aix fell to ruins from the fifth century and traces of urban development are lost.

Aix-les-Bains is again mentioned in sources from the 9th century, in 867, and in 1011 through charters. In the latter, King Rudolph III of Burgundy donated the villa of Aix, called a royal seat, with its settlers and its slaves to his wife Ermengarde who, in turn, pass them to the bishopric of Grenoble. This Charter tells us that Aix is a small town with a church and agricultural areas. Bishop Hugues of Grenoble then donated it to the monastery of Saint-Martin de Miserere, at the beginning of the 12th century. The church erected a new priory under the name of Sainte Marie.

At the end of the 12th century, the cartulary of Saint Hugues reveals the existence of two other parishes, Saint-Simond with its church and that of Saint-Hippolyte (in the current area of Mouxy) also with a small priory. Urban geography begins to clarify: One can imagine the small town, contained in its walls, which nobody knew when was built. The central point of the town is the priory, near the ancient Roman temple. This centre could also have been the administrative centre since at least the 13th century. Aix was a seigneurie subservient to the , who had a château which, even if we do not place with certainty, was probably the location of the actual château. Two hamlets are attested, Saint-Hippolyte, in the immediate vicinity of the town but outside the ramparts, with a small priory at the centre and at its side, now under the Villa Chevalley, a strong House, the maison forte de Saint-Pol [strong House of Saint-Pol], dependent upon the de Savoie family[1] which recent studies date back to the 13th century. A second important village appears, Saint Simond (Saint Sigismond) with it having a church and a cemetery, established as a parish, and a dependant of Saint-Hippolyte.

The texts suggest the existence of other villages including a certified record from 1561, during the general census of the population for the salt tax. At that time, there were about 1095 inhabitants of Aix, 46% living in the village; Saint Simond had 125 inhabitants, Puer had 91 people, Chaudhary had 87 people and Lal had 86 people, with the rest of the hamlets, about a dozen, sharing the rest. (Marlioz having escaped from the sources). This geography of the habitat seems frozen until the end of the 19th century. In Aix, the nearby Abbey of Hautecombe owned a large area at the heights of Saint Simond.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the ancient church suffered a devastating fire. The Aix people requested the help of in order to rebuild. He was a seigneurial family member of the town, and was raised to the episcopal dignity. He was the Bishop of Albi, and an especially special advisor to the King of France Louis XII. He is also the author of a number of treaties. With support from De Seyssel the people were able to build a collegiate church, with a chapter of twelve canons, commissioned by a dean, whose appointment was returned to the count. A church was built on the nearby square of the cemetery, which included a choir of flamboyant Gothic style. If the choir belonged to the collegiate church, the nave belonged to the parishioners and presented a more plain appearance. Besides, the poorly constructed roof collapsed in 1644. Among the side chapels, one was reserved for the De Seyssels of Aix, in which is buried their dead. The collegiate church, fully a parish church after the Revolution, was demolished in 1909, after the construction of the new church. This church was known to house a relic of the true cross, which had been worshipped from a distance. It is also at the end of the Middle Ages that the stately Château of Aix was rebuilt. The ceiling of the Great Hall of the ground floor is dated to 1400. The magnificent staircase of honour was built around 1590.

During the 18th century

On 9 April 1739, a huge fire broke out in the town centre and destroyed 80 homes, nearly half of the town. Reconstruction was made with appeal for subsidies from the king, who imposed an alignment plan whose implementation was entrusted to the engineer Garella. This plan went further than a simple plan of reconstruction since it provided a true alignment of streets, and imposed some rules of urbanism as, for example, the construction of houses of two floors and a ground floor; it also prohibited thatched roofs. However, it was very limited in its scope since it concerned only the burned area or the main street (Rue Albert I), the central square (Place Carnot) and Rue des Bains.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the Aix people and the medical world had begun to become aware of the value of the hot springs of Aix, through the famous writings of the dauphinois physician Jean Baptiste Cabias, who was followed in this area by other renowned doctors. Indeed, since ancient times the exploitation of sources of hot water had never been completely forgotten. Bathing took place in Aix in the Middle Ages and until the end of the 18th century, in the only existing Roman pool, outdoors, or at home where the spa water was brought by hand. The King of France Henry IV highly appreciated his Aix bath, according to Jean Baptiste Cabias. In 1737, to protect the hot springwater seepage from the stream running through the city, a major project was scheduled by the General Commissariat. This changed the urban distribution of the town centre, since it was necessary to dig a new bed for the Moulins stream, outside the walls. They also had to rebuild the four mills of the Marquis of Aix, until then in the town centre, along the new channel (currently montée des moulins [Hill of Mills]).

It is the Duke of Chablais, son of King Victor Amadeus III, to whom Aix owes its renaissance because it was he who, after having tasted the benefit of sources and found it to be poorly housed, suggested the construction of a thermal establishment to the king. By royal appointment on 11 June 1776, King Victor Amadeus III commissioned Robiland to draw up plans for a bathing establishment. It was built from 1779 to 1783, under the direction of the engineer, Capellini. This date also marks the beginning of the demolition of the old town centre, as a result of this imposing construction, people began to clear the surrounding houses to create the place. This first thermal establishment became an important factor of development.

Throughout this period and until the Revolution, the town hosted a roughly stable number of approximately 600 patients each year, the majority of them French. Consecutively, the population increased, reaching 1700 inhabitants in 1793. In 1783, to enhance the lives of the patients, the council of the municipality built a landscaped public promenade: le Gigot currently known as Square Alfred Boucher. It was then lined with chestnut trees and was drawn by architect Louis Lampro. Aside from private gardens, this is the first act of urban green space, which gave a boost to the development of the town at this side of the walls, along the road to Geneva.

In 1792 the French revolutionary troops, under the command of Montesquiou, were in Savoy. The civilian use of the spa then stalled. The baths were requisitioned by the armies of the Republic, which sent the wounded soldiers for convalescence. However, it was also an opportunity to publicise Aix to the greatest number. Aix became Aix-les-Bains. With the Revolution accomplished, the privileges of the local nobility were abolished, and this especially helped the town from paying the Lord Marquess of Aix the large sum of money which it owed him for the redemption of seigneurial rights (the town had no charter of franchise). Furthermore, freedom of established trade gave new impetus to the creation of an economy based on the exploitation of the springs as soon as peace was regained. Then we see the development of boarding houses, hotels, cabarets and restaurants. On the other hand, the Revolution left its marks on church property, such as the abandonment of the collegiate church, destruction of the bell tower and the church furniture.

It was at the lakeside where one could find new development. The small Puer harbour breakwater, built under the Ancien Régime in 1720 became a real port. First frequented by boats refuelling the troops of the army of the Alps, equipped with a military store, it is gradually built for export goods and, in particular, from the trinkets of workshops installed at the edge of the Lake. It became known as the Port of Puer. The development of this neighbourhood involved improvement of the avenue du lac [avenue of the lake] and all this activity attracted the first buildings along this busy avenue, outside of the centre and of the existing villages.

Negotiations for the independence of Morocco

The negotiations for the independence of Morocco were held in Aix-les-Bains. At the conference of September 1955, the President of the French Council, in the person of Edgar Faure, publicly summed up the compromise proposed in Morocco, in the expression "Independence within interdependence". Until then, Moroccan territory was legally a French protectorate and the Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef was in exile. The negotiations were held in the presence of numerous personalities and French and Moroccan organizations. At the talks, Moroccan side tabled the Democratic Independence Party (PDI) as well as the Istiqlal Party, represented by Mehdi Ben Barka, , Abdelhadi Boutaleb, and also . On the French side, the delegation consisted of Edgar Faure, , Robert Schuman and other members of the government. In addition to these were invited guests, from all walks, capable of giving advice on the status of Morocco and independence. Faithful allies of the protectorate and the Moroccan traditional chiefs were also invited. Thus, they could also negotiate in the presence of the parties concerned. They were given precedence, if possible, to the disappointment of the Istiqlal Party.

Although these negotiations held in Aix-les-Bains played an important role in the march towards the independence of Morocco, the fact remains that France had previously taken care to largely prepare for this transition. Indeed, the French State was convinced of the need to allow independence to this North African territory. However, with many economic interests at stake and many business relationships, notably the pashas and qaids, pushed France to take care not to rush this transition and initiate this change, smoothly. The destiny of the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Morocco was drawn during this conference at Aix-les-Bains. Officially, negotiations made it possible to reach an agreement to give birth to an independent state. Morocco was finally proclaimed independent during the declaration of La Celle-Saint-Cloud on 6 November 1955. In 2005, there was the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the negotiation of the agreements of the independence of Morocco. For this occasion, a fountain with a pool was made in Moroccan zellige. came specially from their spiritual home to complete this work in the parc de verdure of Aix-les-Bains. The project was supported by the regional council of tourism of the city of Fez (Fez-CRT) and the tourist office.

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