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

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Geopolitics

In Sudan, A Surprise About-Face Marks Death Of The Revolution

Ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was the face of the "stolen revolution". The fact that he accepted, out of the blue, to return at the same position, albeit on different footing, opens the door to the final legitimization of the coup.

Sudanese protesters demonstrating against the military regime in London on Nov. 20, 2021

Nesrine Malik

A little over a month ago, a military coup in Sudan ended a military-civilian partnership established after the 2019 revolution that removed President Omar al-Bashir after almost 30 years in power. The army arrested the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and, along with several of his cabinet and other civil government officials, threw him in detention. In the weeks that followed, the Sudanese military and their partners in power, the Rapid Support Forces, moved quickly.

They reappointed a new government of “technocrats” (read “loyalists”), shut down internet services, and violently suppressed peaceful protests against the coup and its sabotaging of the 2019 revolution. During those weeks, Hamdok remained the symbol of the stolen revolution, betrayed by the military, detained illegally, unable to communicate with the people who demanded his return. In his figure, the moral authority of the counter-coup resided.

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