Camp des Milles

Historic Building and Museum in Aix en Provence

Les Milles, Gebäude Des Lagers
CC BY-SA 3.0 / --Anima

The Camp des Milles, inaugurated in September 1939, served as a French internment camp situated in a former tile factory near Les Milles village, within the Aix-en-Provence commune (Bouches-du-Rhône). Recognizing its historical significance, UNESCO designated the site as the headquarters for its new Chair of Education for Citizenship, Human Sciences, and Shared Memories in October 2015.

Initially, the camp housed Germans and ex-Austrians residing in the Marseille region, but by June 1940, it held approximately 3,500 artists and intellectuals. Among the detainees were notable figures such as Fritz Brugel, Lion Feuchtwanger, William Herzog, and Alfred Kantorowicz, alongside scientists like Nobel laureate Otto Fritz Meyerhof and various musicians and painters.

From 1941 to 1942, the Camp des Milles served as a transit point for mainly male Jewish detainees. Women awaited visa and authorization in Marseille’s Centre Bompard before Les Milles became a gathering point before deportation. Approximately 2,000 inmates were transported to the Drancy internment camp en route to Auschwitz. Post-war, the site briefly operated as a factory in 1946.

Since 1993, the Camp des Milles has functioned as a memorial to World War II. Directed by Alain Chouraqui, a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, the “Fondation du camp des Milles: mémoire et éducation” (Foundation of the Camp des Milles: Memory and Education) oversees its preservation.

In a poignant ceremony on September 10, 2012, seventy years after the final train departed for Auschwitz, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault inaugurated the memorial, joined by esteemed figures such as Elie Wiesel, Simone Veil, and Serge Klarsfeld.

A film titled “Les Milles,” produced in 1995, commemorates the events surrounding the camp during the June 1940 Armistice.

UNESCO’s initiative gained momentum with the launch of its Chair for Education for Citizenship, Human Sciences, and Shared Memories on October 8, 2015, in the presence of French President François Hollande. This Chair aims to delve into Holocaust history, citizenship, and genocide prevention through research and activism, serving as a national training site for fostering citizenship through remembrance.

The Camp des Milles appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Aix en Provence!

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Visiting Camp des Milles


Open every day from 10 pm to 7 pm (Ticketing closure at 5.30 pm) except: 01/01, 01/05 and 25/12.


Adults: € 9.50

Address: Camp des Milles, Chemin de la Badesse, Aix-en-Provence, France
Duration: 20 minutes

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