The Express : do you Understand the need to leave Paris ?

Aurélien Bellanger : From my point of view, it would be a mistake to go live elsewhere. There is only one real city in France, it is Paris. Of course, the benefits of the capital are rather mysterious. Paris is too small, too expensive, too concentrated. But if one wants to hold the economic power, cultural and of course political, there is really no alternative. The closeness of government bodies, media, headquarters of large companies, all of this is that Paris is still the capital of ambitious France. There is a covenant unwavering between ambition and Paris. The argument of the quality of life is a way to recharacterize, or to abandon his dreams. Paris does not pose any problem to the people who are successful. And the difficulties of the city constitute an additional motive of satisfaction for all the Rastignac of France, who will reach their purposes.

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Has your eyes, Paris is not, therefore, leave no place for other French cities, such as Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux or Toulouse ?

Paris crushes demographically to other cities. There is something sacrificial in relation to the rest of the territory. It is rather miraculous that a country like France, in the process of decommissioning on the global scene, and keeps a capital always presents on the city map-world. At the same time, over 12 million inhabitants, only 2 million are treated as true residents of Paris ; the others are considered as the île de france, commuters, relegated to the background : this is a major failure of urban integration, a real shipwreck and urban planning of the paris region.

This explains the departure to major cities more welcoming…

In fact, it is more enjoyable to live in the central district of a large city, rather than being relegated to the outskirts of Paris as a citizen of the second rank. What has “déprovincialisé” the province, more than the development projects of the territory, it is the delivery flat, by the digital culture, the privileges held by Paris. Before, which was clear in the province, it was the heaviness of the bourgeoisie. Today, what we see in cities such as Nantes, Bordeaux, Lyon, is a series of the symbols of the city and of parisian life : great restaurants, entertainment, gourmet travel alternatives ; in short, of city centres in the parisian fashion, more functional and less dense. And an elite that uses the same codes. Thanks to the TGV, small Paris breed in the province. They lack, however, the claw of showbiz, this substitute aristocracy that belongs only to Paris.

Angers, the first city on our list of cities where the living is good, does that surprise you ?

What strikes me with cities like Angers, it is that they have succeeded in this thing on which Paris has failed : a mini “Central Park” in the heart of the city. The plant is absent from Paris, the bois de Vincennes and Boulogne are too devices, the parks of Sceaux and La Courneuve are far away in the suburbs. Paris is made up like an asian city. It is not normal to be as many per square kilometre as little green spaces !

Read our complete file

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The Grand Paris, Aurélien Bellanger, editions Gallimard. 480p. 22€


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