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Centre de la Vieille Charite

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Designed by Marseillais architect Pierre Puget and constructed between 1671 and 1749, the 3-storey, arcaded courtyard of the Centre de la Vieille Charité wraps around Provence's most imposing Baroque church. Initially built as a charity shelter for the town's poor but it was more like a prison: 17th century France was tough. Chasse-gueux (beggar-hunters) were paid to round up the poor and put them into almshouses which were effectively workhouses. In 1736, the Centre housed 850, by 1760 it was 1059 but by 1781 it was less acceptable to imprison people just for being poor and the number dropped to 250.

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