The collection Atlas historique des villes de France was begun in 1973 by Philippe Wolff and Charles Higounet, in accordance with the wishes of the International Commission for the History of Towns and following the work already undertaken in England and in Germany. 1 The first series of the Atlas historique des villes de France was thus born in 1982, directed by Jean-Bernard Marquette, the successor of Charles Higounet, in the Centre de recherches sur l’occupation du sol, associated with the Centre national de recherche scientifique. The collection, published by Ausonius, is at present 49 ‘volumes’ strong — Bordeaux being the latest town to be dealt with — and it has undoubtedly never deserved the epithet ‘atlas’ as much as it does today — in other words, a collection of maps brought together in published booklets (Figure 4.1). As an expression of ‘geo-history’, dear to its founders, the atlas was brought into being from a viewpoint of land use and human settlement, emphasizing the monographic and cartographical approach to space, conceived as the outcome of a particular tradition of historical geography. How innovative and special this venture, which could be termed ‘morpho-history’ or ‘proto-spatial analysis’, was cannot be overstated and it came into existence at a time when historians perceived space as a mere framework or a piece of scenery.