This is a landmark publication in the urban study of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which appears here for the first time in English. Highly acclaimed in the original French edition, it provides a synoptic view of the evolution of the French urban system before the Industrial Revolution by examining not only the major cities but the wider urban hierarchy. The innovations of this study lie in Lepetit's methodology: his use of models of urban interaction and the unravelling of the complex spatial dimensions to urbanization. He also sets up a detailed analysis of French urbanization and regionalism, and the different aspects of urban society: finance, building, trade, images and innovation. Lepetit's ideas will be of major interest to scholars of urbanization and the industrial revolution in Europe.