Roman villas in northwestern Gaul
Roman villas in northwestern Gaul (modern France) functioned as colonial economic centers. Most villas did not resemble the luxurious, aristocratic country retreats of the Mediterranean region. Their owners were absentee investors (or the emperor himself), managed by local Gauls whose families were rewarded after the Gallo-Roman wars.It is difficult for archeologists to define a villa; the recovered residences varied in size and style (often determined by economic function). However, all sites designated as ""villas"" contain Roman architectural elements found in homes (such as mosaics, porticos, columns and square grounds plans).At first the new Roman masters physically changed very little in Gaul, simply refining the rural economic system in an already intensely farmed landscape. These refinements took the form of technological improvements and enhancing the economic structure (which included the transport of goods and raw materials to larger markets).