A thousand years of trade and intellectual activity have made
a teeming, energetic city. Benjamin of Tudela, the tireless twelfth-century Jewish traveller, reported its streets crowded with traders, Christian and Saracen, Arabs from the Maghrib, merchants from Lombardy, from the kingdom of Rome, from every corner of Egypt, Greece, Gaul, Spain, Genoa and Pisa. A few hiccups - like being sold to France in 1349, almost total destruction for its Protestantism in 1622, and depression in the wine trade in the early years of this century - have done little to dent this progress. Today it vies with Toulouse for the title of most dynamic city in the south. The reputation of its university especially, founded in the thirteenth century and most famous for its medical school, is a long-standing one: more than 60,000 students still set the intellectual and cultural tone of the city - the average age of whose residents is said to be just 25.