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Posts Tagged ‘rue Mignet’

I would love to know.  Most of the mascarons in Aix are masculine and look pained under their load of balconies, ledges and doorframes.  But this lady has a happy air about her and I love the jaunty angle of her hat.

You can see her in rue Mignet, opposite the restaurant Aix à Themes. She has been intriguing me and I wanted to find out the story behind the Hôtel d’Ailhaud.

It was built for an enterprising doctor, Jean d’Ailhaud, born in Lourmarin in 1674.  He invented a purgative powder which made his fortune. Now, the powder turns out to be little more than a filtered mixture of soot and resin but word spread about its efficacy and Jean – a PR man if ever I saw one – published a book extolling its virtues and giving case-histories of people being cured overnight. 

He got a ‘charge anoblissante’ from Louis XV and bought himself the titles of Baron of Castellet and Seigneur of Vitrolles – these included land and a large bastide at Vitrolles and the rights to a china-production factory which provided tableware for Versailles.

He married Anne Sambuc in 1705 and had the mansion in rue Mignet built as their townhouse.  He became one of Provence’s richest men and lived on til 82 – maybe a testimony to his own powder?  

Well, I still don’t know who the lady is.  One local book says she’s a shepherdess.  But I prefer to think it’s Anne immortalised over her door – or maybe a just-cured patient?  Any ideas?

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