The Banlieue Archipelago Lc3a9opold Lambert For The Funambulist 2014
Maps created for the purpose of this article / Download them here in high resolution (7.1 MB) (license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike 4.0)

As I recently wrote in an article about Mathieu Kassowitz’s La Haine, I will probably write a lot about Paris’s banlieues in the coming year(s), as I will be soon returning to live on that side of the Atlantic ocean. I spent the last weeks elaborating documents to illustrate what these “banlieues” really are. This is as useful to people who are not so familiar with Paris’s geography as for people who live in the center of the city, since most of the latter rarely venture in the suburbs. The maps presented above, associated with the list of illustrations below, therefore attempt to present a geographic inventory of the “Cités” and “Zones Urbaines Sensibles” (Sensitive Urban Zones) that exist in the first four zones of Paris’s region’s public transportation system. The term banlieue is abusive in the sense that it means suburb, but it is understood internationally — and to some extents in France too — as low-income neighborhoods whose architecture is characterized by “barres” (long and massive housing buildings) and “tours” (towers) that host, among others, an important population of foreign and first/second generation French (often young) North and West Africans.

The 95 cités presented both on the maps and in the inventory below, host together about 805,000 inhabitants (figures from 2006 calculated from this data bank), which makes it approximately 12% of the total population of the considered area (the first four zones of Paris’s public transportation system). The urbanism used to design these neighborhoods is strongly inspired from the modernist theories of urbanism that aimed at “liberating the ground” and creating more or less self-sufficient pieces of city. On the following illustrations one can easily realize the poor quality of the public space that has been “liberated” on the ground (parking, leftover lawns or dirt areas, etc.). Many of the commerces that were operating within the neighborhoods closed down and little activity was left available for the inhabitants, many of which are unemployed. As for the self-sufficient characteristics of these neighborhoods, they clearly created a distinction between the inside and outside of the cités, creating potentially what I have been calling “proletarian fortresses” in the past (see past articles) but, more importantly, it formed urban zones of exclusions that soon translated into social exclusion for the bodies who inhabit them. This manifests in the rest of French society by a national fear for these neighborhoods fed by daily TV news narratives that marginalize simultaneously the cités in their urbanity and the population that live in them in the otherness (racially, culturally, socially, and sometimes religiously) that they embody for the White French population — that includes the biggest part of the past and current governing elite.

The urban exclusion embodied by the cités operates at the scale of their town or city (noted for each of the following 95 illustrations), but also at the regional scale. Paris is a centralized city and a look at the public transportation network (the maps above show the main one, Metro and RER) allows one to realize, not only how crucial it is to reside within a reasonable distance from this network, but also how this network is fundamentally oriented toward the center of the city with little connection between cities of the banlieues themselves. The “Banlieue Archipelago” that gives its title to this article and these maps therefore consists in the representation of a de-centralized network generated by the cités themselves. It is a sort of cartographic manifesto that does not pre-envision what the links it introduces (in the second map) really stand for: a call for action(s) to revolutionize these pieces of urbanity from inside — the governmental policies to revolutionize them having stagnated (deliberately or not) to the statuses of discourses so far. Architecture as a discipline certainly has a role to play in it; yet, on the contrary of many attempts made from the outside these last forty years, it principally consists in a process of ‘desarchitecture,’ i.e. a deactivation of the physical/spatial mechanisms of geographical and social exclusion that characterize the banlieues’ situation as it currently is.

INVENTORY OF THE BANLIEUES IN THE RATP ZONES 2-3-4 BY ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENTS: 

HAUTS DE SEINE (92) ///

AGNETTESAGNETTES (LES) / Gennevilliers / 7,555 inhabitants (2006) / 52 hectares

BACONNETSBACONNETS (LES) / Antony

BLAGISBLAGIS (LES) / Bagneux / 18,343 inhabitants (2006) / 125 hectares

BUTTE ROUGEBUTTE ROUGE (LA) / Chatenay-Malabry / 12,025 inhabitants (2006) / 125 hectares

CARAVELLECARAVELLE (LA) / Villeneuve-la-Garenne / 5,137 inhabitants (2006) / 13 hectares

CHEMIN DE L'ILECHEMIN DE L’ILE / Nanterre / 8,721 inhabitants / 64 hectares

EUROPEEUROPE / Colombes / 10,815 inhabitants (2006) / 65 hectares

FOSSES JEANFOSSÉS JEAN (LES) / Colombes / 14,973 inhabitants (2006) / 84 hectares

LUTHLUTH (LE) / Gennevilliers / 8,211 inhabitants (2006) / 37 hectares

NORD ASNIERESNORD ASNIÈRES / Asnières-sur-Seine / 16,028 inhabitants (2006) / 73 hectares

PABLO PICASSOPABLO PICASSO / Nanterre / 22,280 inhabitants (2006) / 95 hectares

PETIT COLOMBESPETIT COLOMBES / Colombes / 9,911 inhabitants (2006) / 63 hectares

PETIT NANTERREPETIT NANTERRE / Nanterre / 8,804 inhabitants (2006) / 54 hectares

PLAINEPLAINE (LA) / Clamart

PONT DE SEVRESPONT DE SÈVRES / Boulogne-Billancourt / 4,814 inhabitants (2006) / 10 hectares

SEINE SABLIERESEINE SABLIÈRE / Villeneuve-la-Garenne / 4,382 inhabitants (2006) / 18 hectares

SEINE ST. DENIS (93) ///

40004000 (LES) / La Courneuve / 15, 124 inhabitants (2006) / 79 hectares

ALLENDEALLENDE / St. Denis / 2,670 inhabitants / 9 hectares

ALLENDE (Epinay)ALLENDE / Villetaneuse / 1,179 inhabitants (2006) / 4 hectares

BEAUDOTTESBEAUDOTTES (LES) / Sevran / 9,058 inhabitants (2006) / 40 hectares

BEL AIRBEL AIR / Montreuil / 5,992 inhabitants (2006) / 40 hectares

BLANQUIBLANQUI / Bondy / 6,282 inhabitants (2006) / 37 hectares

BOISSIEREBOISSIÈRE (LA) / Noisy-le-Sec / 1,188 inhabitants (2006) / 5 hectares

BOSQUETSBOSQUETS (LES) / Clichy-sous-Bois-Montfermeil / 30,327 inhabitants (2006 / 201 hectares

CHAMPYCHAMPY / Noisy-le-Grand / 4,918 inhabitants (2006) / 26 hectares

CLOS ST LAZARECLOS ST. LAZARE (LE) / Stains / 10,533 inhabitants (2006) / 51 hectares

COURTILLERESCOURTILLÈRES (LES) / Bobigny-Pantin / 11,210 inhabitants (2006) / 93 hectares

FAUVETTESFAUVETTES (LES) / Neuilly-sur-Marne / 11,059 inhabitants (2006) / 66 hectares

FLORÉALFLORÉAL / St. Denis / 5,417 inhabitants / 28 hectares

FRANCS MOISINSFRANCS MOISINS / St. Denis / 9,293 inhabitants (2006) / 42 hectares

LONDEAULONDEAU (LE) / Noisy-le-Sec / 6,537 inhabitants (2006) / 37 hectares

MALASSISMALASSIS / Bagnolet / 6,674 inhabitants (2006) / 34 hectares

MONTREAUMONTREAU / Montreuil / 3,930 inhabitants (2006) / 23 hectares

MOULIN NEUFMOULIN NEUF / Stains / 1,276 inhabitants (2006) / 8 hectares

NORD BONDYNORD BONDY / Bondy / 9,313 inhabitants (2006) / 57 hectares

NOUENOUE (LA) / Montreuil / 6,117 inhabitants (2006) / 28 hectares

ORGEMONTORGEMONT / Épinay-sur-Seine / 10,871 inhabitants (2006) / 60 hectares

PAUL ELUARDPAUL ÉLUARD / Bobigny / 6,235 inhabitants (2006) / 17 hectares

PAVE NEUFPAVÉ NEUF (LE) / Noisy-le-Grand / 7,240 inhabitants (2006) / 29 hectares

QUATRE CHEMINSQUATRE CHEMINS (LES) / Aubervilliers / 29,223 inhabitants (2006) / 106 hectares

POINT BLANCPONT BLANC / Sevran / 6,902 inhabitants / 29 hectares

ROSE DES VENTSROSE DES VENTS (LA) / Aulnays-sous-Bois / 22,617 inhabitants (2006) / 193 hectares

ROUGEMONTROUGEMONT / Sevran / 6,460 inhabitants (2006) / 46 hectares

SOURCESOURCE (LA) / Épinay-sur-Seine / 22,706 inhabitants / 113 hectares

SUD DUGNYSUD DUGNY / Dugny / 3,250 inhabitants (2006) / 11 hectares

TILLEULSTILLEULS (LES) / Dugny-Le Blanc-Mesnil / 13,098 inhabitants (2006) / 80 hectares

VAL DE MARNE (94) ///

BLEUETSBLEUETS (LES) / Créteil / 5,321 inhabitants (2006) / 25 hectares

BOIS L'ABBEBOIS L’ABBÉ (LE) / Champigny-sur-Marne / 14,408 inhabitants (2006) / 77 hectares

CURIECURIE (PIERRE & MARIE) / Ivry-sur-Seine / 6,470 inhabitants / 39 hectares

FABIENFABIEN / Bonneuil-sur-Marne / 10,354 inhabitants (2006) / 63 hectares

GARGARINEGARGARINE / Ivry-sur-Seine / 5,750 inhabitants (2006) / 31 hectares

GRANDS CHAMPSGRANDS CHAMPS (LES) / Thiais

GRANDS ENSEMBLES VITRYGRAND ENSEMBLES VITRY / Vitry-sur-Seine / 24,077 inhabitants / 111 hectares

GRUISIEGRUISIE / Villeneuve-le-Roi / 1,615 inhabitants / 11 hectares

HABETTEHABETTE / Créteil / 5,014 inhabitants (2006) / 23 hectares

HAUTES NOUESHAUTES NOUES (LES) / Villiers-sur-Marne / 6,105 inhabitants (2006) / 21 hectares

HAUTS DU MONT MESLYHAUTS DU MONT MESLY / Créteil / 3,042 inhabitants (2006) / 16 hectares

ILE DE FRANCEILE DE FRANCE / Limeil-Brévannes / 1,153 inhabitants (2006) / 8 hectares

JACQUES CARTIERJACQUES CARTIER / Choisy-le-Roi / 2,862 inhabitants (2006) / 10 hectares

JARDINSJARDINS / Champigny-sur-Marne / 5,666 inhabitants (2006) / 35 hectares

LUTECELUTÈCE (LA) / Valenton / 1,799 inhabitants (2006) / 8 hectares

MORDACSMORDACS (LES) / Champigny-sur-Marne / 4,830 inhabitants (2006) / 71 hectares

NAVIGATEURSNAVIGATEURS (LES) / Choisy-le-Roi-Orly / 13,298 inhabitants (2006) / 84 hectares

NORD VILLENEUVENORD VILLENEUVE / Villeneuve-St.-George / 5,125 inhabitants / 22 hectares

PALAISPALAIS (LE) / Créteil / 4,942 inhabitants (2006) / 35 hectares

PARCPARC (LE) / Limeil-Brévannes / 1,380 inhabitants (2006) / 7 hectares

PAUL BERTPAUL BERT / Villeneuve-le-Roi / 1,562 inhabitants (2006) / 17 hectares

PLATEAUPLATEAU / Villeneuve-St.-Georges / 2,517 inhabitants (2006) / 16 hectares

POLOGNESPOLOGNES (LES) / Valenton / 1,775 inhabitants (2006) / 8 hectares

SUD ALFORTVILLESUD ALFORTVILLE / Alfortville / 7,761 inhabitants (2006) / 41 hectares

VAL DE FONTENAYVAL DE FONTENAY / Fontenay-sous-Bois

YVELINES (78) ///

INDESINDES (LES) / Sartrouville / 11,528 inhabitants (2006) / 60 hectares

ESSONE (91) ///

BERGERIESBERGERIES (LES) / Draveil / 2,995 inhabitants (2006) / 26 hectares

CILOFCILOF / Viry-Chatillon / 4,260 inhabitants (2006) / 25 hectares

CROIX BLANCHECROIX BLANCHE (LA) / Vigneux-sur-Seine / 9,632 inhabitants (2006) / 59 hectares

DANTONDANTON / Draveil / 2,285 inhabitants (2006) / 27 hectares

GRAND ENSEMBLE MASSYGRAND ENSEMBLE MASSY / Antony-Massy / 15,296 inhabitants (2006) / 78 hectares

NOYER RENARDNOYER RENARD (LE) / Athis-Mons / 4,756 inhabitants (2006) / 26 hectares

VILLAINEVILLAINE / Massy / 7,351 inhabitants (2006) / 56 hectares

VAL D’OISE (95) ///

CARREAUXCARREAUX (LES) / Villiers-le-Bel / 4,313 inhabitants (2006) / 22 hectares

CARRIERESCARRIÈRES / Montmagny / 3,222 inhabitants (2006) / 25 hectares

CHARDONNERETTESCHARDONNERETTES / Sarcelles / 3,065 inhabitants (2006) / 26 hectares

DAME BLANCHEDAME BLANCHE (LA) / Garges-les-Gonesse / 16,847 inhabitants (2006) / 139 hectares

DOUCETTESDOUCETTES (LES) / Garges-les-Gonesse / 10,922 inhabitants (2006) / 45 hectares

FAUCONNIEREFAUCONNIÈRE (LA) / Gonesse / 5,980 inhabitants (2006) / 30 hectares

FONTAINE BERTINFONTAINE BERTIN (LA) / Franconville / 1,898 inhabitants (2006) / 6 hectares

FRANCESFRANCES (LES) / Montigny-les-Cormeilles / 6,980 inhabitants (2006) / 49 hectares

GALATHEEGALATHÉE / Deuille-la-Barre / 3,454 inhabitants (2006) / 28 hectares

JOLIOT CURIEJOLIOT CURIE / Argenteuil / 2,388 inhabitants (2006) / 16 hectares

LOCHERESLOCHÈRES (LES) / Sarcelles / 38,050 inhabitants (2006) / 168 hectares

PUITS LA MARLIEREPUITS (LES) / Villiers-le-Bel / 10,748 inhabitants (2006) / 101 hectares

RAGUENETSRAGUENETS / St. Gratien / 5,806 inhabitants (2006) / 25 hectares

ROSIERSROSIERS (LES) / Sarcelles / 5,010 inhabitants (2006) / 27 hectares

TETE DE PONTTETE DE PONT / Bezons / 2,855 inhabitants (2006) / 25 hectares

VAL D'ARGENTVAL D’ARGENT / Argenteuil / 26,836 inhabitants (2006) / 134 hectares

VAL NOTRE DAMEVAL NOTRE DAME / Argenteuil-Bezons / 7,538 inhabitants (2006) / 73 hectares