France: History

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Around 600 bc, Greek immigrants arrived from Phocaea in anatolia and founded Massalia (Marseilles) as a Greek city (see Ancient greece). One of the colonists’ importations was viticulture, although in 2013 Patrick McGovern found evidence that they were probably preceded by Etruscans (see origins of viniculture). In the 2nd century bc, the settlement, now known as Massilia, had become vital to the Romans, now a major power (see Ancient rome), if they were to safeguard their trading route with Saguntum (modern Sagunto, near Valencia in Spain). When Massilia was attacked first by the Ligurians and then by the Celtic tribes of the Allobroges and the Arverni (of modern auvergne), self-interest made the Romans take on the defence of the city. As a result they gained a new province, named at first Provincia (modern provence) and later, with the foundation of the Roman city of Narbo (modern Narbonne) in 118 bc, Gallia Narbonensis. Massilia remained Greek until 49 bc.