Society

Suburban Sprawl Creeps Across France

France still has its attractive city centers and enchanting small towns. But popping up in between are sprawling suburbs that in some cases are even spawning ‘exurbs.’ Will the French countryside eventually be swallowed up by subdivisions?

Suburban housing development near Caen in southwest France
Suburban housing development near Caen in southwest France


*NEWSBITES

PARIS -- The popular image of France is painted with the bright lights of Paris and the rolling vineyards of Bordeaux. But the creeping trend in how French people actually live is looking more and more like the American picture of identical suburban subdivisions.

In France, 95% of the population is now connected in one way or another to an urban center. And rather than growth within the major cities, it is the spread of development of the surrounding areas. Buildings are blooming in the middle of fields. New housing projects are rising ever further from the city centers where the residents work. These suburbs of suburbs, or ‘exurbs' as they're sometimes called, are expanding faster than any other residential area in France, and now cover more than 28.6% of the country, according to a recent French study.

As a result, commute times are increasing. The average French person now lives 15 kilometers from his or her place of employment. Although the largest cities have good public transportation, elsewhere the car dominates ever more as the primary mode of transportation.

"We are following the American model of urban sprawl, which presents a problem for municipalities," says Jean-Loup Msika, an urban planner who opposes this kind of "horizontal" development. "It is much more expensive to bring services to far-off areas that are not densely populated."

Nevertheless, the trend shows no sign of slowing down. It may even reshape France's social map. On one side are the large metropolitan areas. On the other, the exurbs, where a large number of the lower classes now live.

Read the full story in French by Cécilia Gabizon

Photo - Google Street View

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
food / travel

Premium-Economy Pivot? Airlines Adjust Seat Size, Hope For Travel Rebound

Airlines are eyeing premium economy seating options to woo money-conscious business class travelers, and possibly weary economy passengers, back to air travel.

Changing travel patterns have led to airlines offering new products and reconfiguring cabins

René Armas Maes

-Analysis-

SANTIAGO — Back in May, I wrote that full-service airlines should start analyzing the costs, benefits, and impact of the demand of business travel, and see whether they would profit from reducing seats in executive class cabins, and from developing products like the premium economy class, which lies between business and economy in terms of comfort and price. They should start doing this in the last quarter of 2021 — I wrote back in May — especially considering that the demand for business class seats and its revenues were unlikely to recover in the following 12 months. And that is what is happening now.

Keep reading... Show less
Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ