Small French town sees Chinese 'revolution'

2012-09-12 10:03

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Montargis - Roaming the narrow streets of Montargis, a small provincial town about 110 kilometers south of Paris, you wouldn't find anything particularly attractive to tourists.

According to, the town has a population of less than 16 000, does not have high-end boutiques with French luxury brands or the magnificent architecture or monuments emblematic of French grandeur and romance. Perhaps the only things it is well known for are its flowered bridges and winding canals.

The increase in tourism from China has been put down to its unique historical links.

Montargis was the place where hundreds of young Chinese students came to study and work in the early years of the 20th century, with the hope of modernizing China by learning from the West.

The most prominent students included future Chinese political leaders Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yi (former vice-premier and second foreign minister of China), Nie Rongzhen (one of the 10 marshals of China) and Cai Hesen (one of earliest leaders of the Communist Party of China). Zhou Enlai was also a frequent visitor to the city in the 1920s.

Local authorities created a Chinese tourist trail several years ago to tap into China's booming tourism market and to promote Montargis as a must-see destination for those who want to discover how China entered the history of a small French town that played a key role in the formation of the CPC.

Today tourists can follow signs in both French and Chinese pointing out historic sites and buildings in Montargis associated with Chinese history in France.

One important site is the school Deng attended, known as the Gambetta Secondary School, which is now the Town Hall of Montargis.


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