Aubagne city centre

Coat of arms

Coordinates: 43°17′27″N 5°34′15″E / 43.2908°N 5.5708°E / 43.2908; 5.5708Coordinates: 43°17′27″N 5°34′15″E / 43.2908°N 5.5708°E / 43.2908; 5.5708
Country France
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Department Bouches-du-Rhône
Arrondissement Marseille
Canton Aubagne-Est and Aubagne-Ouest
Intercommunality Pays d'Aubagne et de l'Etoile
  Mayor (2014-2020) Gérard Gazay
Area1 54.9 km2 (21.2 sq mi)
Population (2010)2 46,423
  Density 850/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
INSEE/Postal code 13005 / 13400
Dialling codes 0442
Elevation 74–701 m (243–2,300 ft)
(avg. 101 m or 331 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Aubagne (French pronunciation: [oˈbaɲ], Aubanha in Occitan according to the classic norm or Aubagno according to the Mistralian norm) is a French commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southern France.

The inhabitants of the commune are known as Aubagnais or Aubagnaises.[1]

The commune has been awarded three flowers by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom.[2]


Aubagne is located in the Huveaune valley and surrounded by the mountain ranges of Garlaban with Sainte-Baume to the north and Douard to the south 17 km (11 mi) east of Marseille Port.

Aubagne is the main city of the Agglomeration community of Pays d'Aubagne et de l'Etoile and the sixth largest city of the department of Bouches-du-Rhône by its population.

It is the main producer of Santon figurines and also hosts many cultural events each year. The French Foreign Legion has its headquarters in Aubagne. Public transport has been free at the point of use since the year 2000.

The A50-A52 junction in Aubagne

Access to the commune is by the A50 autoroute from Marseille which continues south to Toulon. The A501 and A52 autoroutes branch off the A50 in the commune and merge to go north to Aix-en-Provence. Numerous departmental roads go through the commune including: the D96 which goes north to Roquevaire, the D2 which goes east to Gémenos, the D8N which comes from Marseilles and goes south-east to Cuges-les-Pins, the D41E which goes south to Cassis, and many other connecting roads within the commune. There are several smaller towns and villages in the commune apart from the main town: Les Arnauds, Les Grands Mellets, Pinchon, La Martelle, L'Agrie, La Coueste, La Thuiliere, and Font de Mai. A large proportion of the commune is urban with mountainous terrain to north and south[3]

The main railway from Marseille passes through the commune splitting into two lines - one going north-west and one going south with a station in the town.

The Huveaune river flows through the commune from the east flowing west into the Mediterranean sea at Prado beach in the 8th Arrondissement in Marseilles.


Aubagne Station before 1916
Aubagne Railway Station

Regional trains link the Gare d'Aubagne railway station with Marseille and Toulon. Aubagne was the first commune in France to be completely surrounded by autoroutes: the A50 autoroute Marseille-Toulon, the A52 autoroute to Aubagne-Aix-en-Provence, and the connecting motorway A501.

From 2009, Aubagne made bus travel zero-fare.[4][5]

A 14-kilometre (9-mile), two-line tram network is planned. This project is criticized as it is not common for a city of that size.[6] Line 1 will be from the station to Le Charrel and Line 2 will be from the station to La Penne-sur-Huveaune. Construction started in 2012 for an opening of the first phase in 2014. The tram is a long-term project to be linked with the Marseille tramway.[7][8]

The tram will also be zero-fare,[9] making it one of the first zero-fare trams in the world with Tallinn.[10]

Neighbouring communes and villages


The Middle Ages

The death of Queen Joanna I of Naples began a conflict of succession as to who would become the head of the County of Provence. The Union of Aix, a confederation of cities in the region of Provence, supported Charles, Duke of Durazzo, rather than Louis I, Duke of Anjou. By the spring of 1382 the Lord of Aubagne, François des Baux, supported the Duke of Anjou. This support was conditional upon the Duke helping to restore the queen to her throne.[11]

On 4 April 1402 in Brantes, at the foot of Mont Ventoux, and in the presence of his wife Alix des Baux, Odon de Villars bestowed upon his nephew Philippe de Lévis the fiefs of Brantes, Plaisians and their dependencies: the Lordships of Saint-Marcel, Roquefort, le Castellet, Cassis, and Port-Miou which were dependencies of the barony of Aubagne, as well as La Fare-les-Oliviers, and Éguilles. In return, Philippe de Lévis would be surety for Viscount Raymond of Turenne for the agreement between Odon de Villars, his wife Alix, and himself. If Odon and Alix failed to respect the terms of the agreement, they would have to pay 50,000 florins to the viscount.[12]



Azure, a Roman letter A of Or interlaced with a letter V the same, in chief 2 fleur-de-lis the same, in base a sea of Argent.

Politics and administration

Political life

Between 1965 and 2014, Aubagne has elected three Communist mayors: the municipal council is composed mainly of communist, socialist, and other left-leaning members. Still, a significant portion of the population supports centre, right-of-centre, or even far-right political positions. In the second round of elections in 1988, both a representative of the French Communist Party (Parti communiste), Jean Tardito, and a representative of the far-right National Front party (Front National), Joëlle Melin, were elected. Edmond Garcin, of the Community party, was elected mayor from 1965 to 1987.[13][14]

In 2001, the resignation of Jean Tardito brought Daniel Fontaine (PCF) to the position of mayor. In 2008 there were 4 candidates in the first round of municipal elections: Daniel Fontaine for The United Left and a civil society, Sylvia Barthelemy for the UMP and the New Centre, Jean-Marie Orihuel for the Democratic Movement, and Joëlle Melin for the National Front. In the second round the United Left, the Civil Society, and the Democratic Movement joined together to form the Left Union list which was renamed the "rainbow".[15] In 2014, the mayorship shifted as Gérard Gazay (UMP) was elected to the position of mayor after an alliance with Sylvia Barthelemy during the second round.[16]

List of Mayors

The market at Aubagne in the early 1900s
Place de l'Obelisque in 1914

List of Successive Mayors[17]

From To Name Party Position
1792 1793 Jean Baptiste Domergue
1831 1843 Félix Beaumond
1870 1871 Jean Louis Henri Dieudonné Celly
1906 Fernand Bouisson
1919 1925 Etienne Marius Florent Boyer
1933 1942 Marius Boyer
1945 1951 Mario Cresp
1951 1953 André Jayne
1953 1959 Marius Boyer
1959 1965 Yves Chouquet
1965 1987 Edmond Garcin
1987 2001 Jean Tardito
2001 2014 Daniel Fontaine
2014 2020 Gérard Gazay

(Not all data is known)

Environment and Environmental Policies

Agenda 21 sets the terms and conditions for sustainable development in Aubagne which includes providing free public transit, offering a recycling program, encouraging energy conservation and energy demand management, launching awareness campaigns in schools to promote sustainable development and eco-citizenship, and giving incentives for purchasing solar panels. More than 4,000 individual bins and 15,000 recycling bags are available to residents.[18]

The city of Aubagne conducts its environmental, social, and economic policies in collaboration with neighbouring communities to help enhance sustainable development and improve living conditions.

Communal transport: Since 15 May 2009 municipal buses have been free and the Tramway of Aubagne will also be when it opens in 2014. This has reduced the commune's transportation-related ecological footprint: 15% more buses have been put into service, and bus usage has increased by 175%, with 35% of these users from modal shift.[8][19][20]

Compiègne and Châteauroux have done the same but with goals that are more socioeconomic: making the centre of town more dynamic, improving buying power, reducing isolation, etc.


In 2010 the commune had 46,423 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known from the population censuses conducted in the commune since 1793. From the 21st century, a census of communes with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants is held every five years, unlike larger towns that have a sample survey every year.[Note 1]

Population Change (See database)
1793 1800 1806 1821 1831 1836 1841 1846 1851
7,230 5,610 6,620 6,122 6,349 6,481 6,208 6,131 6,482
1856 1861 1866 1872 1876 1881 1886 1891 1896
6,765 7,232 7,408 7,658 8,027 7,885 8,239 8,154 8,400
1901 1906 1911 1921 1926 1931 1936 1946 1954
8,724 9,614 9,744 10,271 11,707 13,085 13,949 16,061 17,639
1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006 2010 -
21,211 27,938 33,595 38,561 41,100 42,588 43,500 46,423 -

Sources : Ldh/EHESS/Cassini until 1962, INSEE database from 1968 (population without double counting and municipal population from 2006)


Field of Peas
A Santon of a produce seller

Industry, Trade and Crafts

Budget and indebtedness

Aubagne is one of the most indebted cities in France. According to the latest report of the Court of Auditors of PACA (July 2013), the debt amounts to 157.6 million Euros. According to a ranking published by Le Journal du Net, Aubagne would place 3rd for debt per head of 3,685 Euros per capita - about 5 times the national average. Only Cannes and Levallois-Perret, much richer communes, are higher. The total indebtedness of 119.9 million euros in 2010 exploded in 2013 to reach EUR 157.6 millon. The debt servicing payments have at the same time multiplied by 3.1 from 8.626 million euros to 26.933 million euros between 2010 and 2011.[23]

The listing for Aubagne by the French Fitch Ratings agency in 2010 was "BBB-":[24] "We have downgraded the city of Aubagne due to a strong presence of structured products, along with a very low savings rate and high debt loads. The rating has changed from "A-" to "BBB-" - the lowest category for this investment type"[25] Subsequently the city has not wanted to pursue the issue of its credit status.[26]

In 2009 Aubagne municipality renegotiated certain loans considered "toxic" which were based on risky products contracted with the ABN AMRO bank (loans now owned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)). Risky loans have been converted to fixed-rate borrowings: less advantageous but less risky.[27] The Court of Auditors in 2013 noted that these renegotiations resulted in additional financial burden borne by the commune of the order of 50 to 70 million Euros (19 million for the Dexia and Caisse d'Epargne loans and 25 to 43 million for the RBS loan).

Investments in the commune are about half the average for French communes in the same stratum: approximately 13.3% of revenues against 31.4% according to the administrative accounts for the commune in 2012.

Finally the Observatory of subsidies has repeatedly criticized the management of the city of Aubagne, particularly for subsidies not related to the commune or representing a "waste of public money".[28]


The War Memorial

The 2012 Administrative Accounts for the commune mentions a result of 662 euros per capita tax for Aubagne against 482 euros for the stratum of comparable communes - or higher taxes by 37%.

Aubagne is part of the "Top 20" of towns who have increased their taxes the most in 2012. The city ranks 12th in France for the highest increases in taxes in 2012 according to the website[29]

Culture and Heritage

Civil heritage

Religious heritage

Chapel of the Black Penitents
Chapel of the Grey Penitents
Chapel of the White Penitents

Environmental heritage

The Garlaban Mountain viewed from Aubagne

Cinematic heritage

Aubagne is the birthplace of Marcel Pagnol, home to the University of Image and Sound (Satis department), 9 cinemas (Cinema Palace and Pagnol), and an International Film Festival.

Aubagne is referred to frequently in the film Manon des Sources.

The Aubagne Ciné Passion association was founded in late 1989 by Charles Villani at a time when cinema was in crisis. Rapidly bringing in many members, its activity was intense and from 1992 until 1999 it organized the 1st Festival of Passions sponsored by Ticky Holgado and Gérard Jugnot. Thereafter each year the Festival featuring long and short films takes place in October or November. Numerous directors, actors, screenwriters, and producers come to present their works in advance of their premier at the Festival of Passions: Jean-Claude Carrière, John Malkovich, Christopher Lee, Lio, Jean-François Stévenin, Jacques Marin, Carmen Chaplin, Paul Vecchiali, Mathieu Demy, Julie Gayet, Benoît Magimel, Pierre Sullice, Olivier Austen, Luc Palun, Catherine Jacob, Marc de Jonge, Michel Voletti, Pomme Meffre, Yannick Bellon, Franck Fernandel ... and of course Ticky Holgado and Gérard Jugnot.

Christopher Lee met by Charles Villani at Aubagne for the Festival of Passions
John Malkovich and Charles Villani at the Festival of Passions in Aubagne
Prizegiving at the Festival of Passions in the presence of Benoît Magimel, Sophie Barjac, Charles Villani (Aubagne Ciné Passion), Jean-Michel Descombes (Festival Saint Jean de Luz)

In 2000 the City of Aubagne request 3 associations: Alphée (photos), Aubagne Ciné Passion (long films), Méridiens (short films) to merge to organize an international film festival. The association of Alcimé was then created, chaired by Charles Villani for its first year and its first festival called FIFA (International Film Festival of Aubagne) that endured. In 2001 differences of perspective caused the departure of Aubagne Ciné Passion from the Alcimé structure. Charles Villani passed the chairmanship to Jean Michel Descombes (General Delegate of the Young Filmmakers Festival of Saint-Jean-de-Luz) and, in 2002, the association went to the nearby commune of Gémenos to organize the RCG (Cinematographers Meetings in Gémenos). Gisèle Mezzina became the president of Aubagne Ciné Passion. Since 2007, the last year of the RCG, the association continues its activities with its circle of members.

Cultural events and festivities

In the summer of 2013, the city hosted a mobile Annex from the Centre Georges Pompidou as part of the Marseille-Provence 2013 events.[56]

Each year Aubagne has a series of regular and one-off events:

Potter's stall
Modern Pottery in Aubagne

Argilla, Festival of ceramics and a pottery market.


There are also the Scientific Tuesdays of Aubagne



There are there are 30 schools in Auagne including:

The SATIS department (Cinema/Audiovisual), attached to the University of Provence, is also located in Aubagne.



Lattre-de-Tassigny Stadium

Foreign Legion Garrison

Since 1962 the Foreign Legion Command and the 1st Foreign Regiment of the Foreign Legion has had 800 men stationed at Aubagne.

For the centenary of the Battle of Camarón on 30 April 1963 the war memorial, which had been placed in the Vienot barracks in Sidi Bel Abbès, was repatriated to Aubagne. This monument depicts a globe flanked by four legionnaires. The bronze statue was designed by sculptor Henri Pourquet. The weight of the monument is 80 tonnes.

The French Foreign Legion Museum is located at Aubagne in the Viénot barracks: it commemorates all of the military campaigns of the Legion in history with displays showing the evolution of uniforms, weapons, and decorations until today. The crypt houses the wooden hand of Captain Jean Danjou.

Notable people linked to the commune

Birthplace of Marcel Pagnol

See also


  1. At the beginning of the 21st century, the methods of identification have been modified by Law No. 2002-276 of 27 February 2002, the so-called "law of local democracy" and in particular Title V "census operations" allows, after a transitional period running from 2004 to 2008, the annual publication of the legal population of the different French administrative districts. For communes with a population greater than 10,000 inhabitants, a sample survey is conducted annually, the entire territory of these communes is taken into account at the end of the period of five years. The first "legal population" after 1999 under this new law came into force on 1 January 2009 and was based on the census of 2006.


  1. Inhabitants of Bouches-du-Rhône (French)
  2. Aubenas-les-Alpes in the Competition for Towns and Villages in Bloom Archived December 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. (French)
  3. Google Maps
  4. "By Bus". City of Aubagne.
  5. "Free transport in the commune". Ekopedia (in French).
  6. "The Agglomération of Pays d'Aubagne votes on the tram project". La Provence. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  7. "Aubagne: Work on the future tramway have commenced. - France 3 Provence-Alpes" (in French). Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  8. 1 2 "Aubagne orders Citadis Compact". Railway Gazette International. 7 October 2011.
  9. "Aubagne | The Public enquiry begins on 18 June for the Aubagne tramway". La Provence. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  10. Marcel Robert (15 May 2009). "Aubagne will have the first entirely free tramway in the world!" (in French). Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  11. Louis Barthélemy, Chronological and Analytical Inventory of the Charters of the Houses of Baux, Marseille, 1882, Charte 1692. (French)
  12. Geneviève Xhayet, Supporters and Opponents of Louis of Anjou during the war with the Union of Aix, Provence historique, Fédération historique de Provence, volume 40, No. 162, "Author of the War of the Union ofAix", 1990, p. 409 and 410 (note 41). (French)
  13. "The Municipal Council" (in French). Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  14. "Aubagne always communist? - The blog of resistanceetamour" (in French). Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  15. UCLG-CISDP website
  16. Résultat du second tour Communales 2015
  17. List of Mayors of France (French)
  18. "Rubbish collection" (in French). Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  19. "Free public transport: from social experiment to political alternative? - Metropolitics". Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  20. "Free communal transport and modal report: an example to follow?" (in French). Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  21. Sartorius website
  22. Aubagne, viticultural commune, Vin-Vigne website, Placido Llorca, 2012, consulted on 12 November 2012 (French)
  23. The Debt of Aubagne, Journal du Net (French)
  24. Fitch ratings, Bastamag website (French)
  25. Marsactu website Archived May 20, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. (French)
  26. Fitch confirms its rating for Aubagne, Overblog 15 December 2011 (French)
  27. Aubagne risks its debt on the Stock exchange, Laprovence website (French)
  28. To whom go the taxes of the taxpayers of Aubagne?, Observatoire des subventions website, 7 January 2011 (French)
  29. Top 10 towns for increases in taxes (French)
  30. Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA13000059 War memorial (French)
  31. Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00081197 Chapel of Black Penitents (French)
  32. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13000443 Painting: Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (French)
  33. Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00081196 Chapel of Grey Penitents (French)
  34. Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00081195 Chapel of White Penitents (French)
  35. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001960 Painting: The death of Saint Joseph (French)
  36. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001959 Painting: Purgatory (French)
  37. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001958 Painting: Sainte Parenté (French)
  38. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13000444 Painting: Incredulity of Saint Thomas (French)
  39. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001753 Instrumental part of the Organ (French)
  40. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001752 Rostrum Organ (French)
  41. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13000442 Statue: Virgin and Child (French)
  42. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001961 Statue: Christ aux liens (French)
  43. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001963 Stalls (French)
  44. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001957 Painting: The Circumcision (French)
  45. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001956 Painting: The disciples of Emmaus (French)
  46. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001955 Panelling, floor coverings and Sideboard in the Sacristy (French)
  47. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001954 Reliquary (French)
  48. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001953 Commemorative plaque for the consecration of the church (French)
  49. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13001962 Bust-reliquary: Saint Matthieu (French)
  50. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13000448 Retable: 2 angels adoring the paschal Lamb (French)
  51. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13000447 Retable: 2 Bas-reliefs: The Adoration of the Magii and the Descent from the Cross (French)
  52. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13000446 Painting: Virgin & child and St. John the Baptist (French)
  53. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13000445 Main Altar, Altar seating, Tabernacle (French)
  54. Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM13000441 2 Bronze bells (French)
  55. Friends of old Aubagne website (French)
  56. A Pompidou Centre mobile at Aubagne Archived April 21, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. (French)
  57. Article "Aubagne montre le son" programme La Provence of MP2013, March–April paper (French)
  58. La Casamance Clinic Archived September 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. (French)
  59. Jean Bercy on the L'oiseau de feu du Garlaban website (French)

External links

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