bland, uniform, boring

boring, family, mini van

boring, normal

calm, boring, yard

city, residential, home

clean, spread-out, affluent

commuter, outskirts, residential area

commuters, boring, bad

good community, relaxed, SUVs

green lawns, white picket fences, families, wealth

neighborhoods, soccer moms, apartments

peaceful, quiet, boring

pretty, calm, desirable

quiet, clean, dull

quiet, comfortable, familiar,

quiet, lawns, sidewalks

quiet, neighborhoods, joggers

rows of identical houses, trees, open spaces

safe, boring, tv shows from the 50's

soullessness, children, car culture, boring

trees, animals, open space

trees, wealth, neighborhoods, quiet

à l'écart - étranger - HLM

calme, éloigné, inintéressant

cité, rap, ghetto

décentré, immigration, délinquance


difficile, pauvreté, convivial



ghetto, ville, immeuble, violence

ghettos, misère

HLM, 93, RER

mélange, diversité, discrimination

oublié, pointé du doigt, potentiel

périphérie, ghetto, Tokyo

près de la ville, calme, vert

stéréotype, perle, fange

trouble, misère, saleté

vert, calme, familles

violence, insécurité, immeuble


The word ‘suburb’ is also one of those terms that our societies have decided to interpret differently. In the U.S. suburbs are described as quiet, calm, and residential areas, in which couples often settle down to raise families. These areas can of course range in level of luxury, but in my experience suburbs often offer quaint and cozy neighborhoods for business people to live in even if they tend to work in downtown areas. While the responses from the American side proved to be rather neutral, leaning more towards the positive side of the road, the French, by far, associate the suburbs with many more negative notions. I feel as though again this difference is a result of the way in which our societies were constructed, in this case literally. I believe major cities in France, such as Paris, were designed in a way such that the more luxurious, more convenient, residential areas were located closer to the center of town, and as more and more people began to inhabit the area they were forced to live along the exterior of the city; those who had the money to break through the historical barrier, and gain access to the center of town were granted passage, while those less fortunate stayed along the periphery. Over time the Parisian suburbs developed into what they are today, resting places for the less well off residents—often immigrant families. Such conditions have led to the current classification of these areas as ghettos and areas of violence and delinquency.

Unrelated comment:

Hi Jason, Dave D. the admin here, it seems like something you are using to paste into the textarea here is producing some code.  Can you try writing directly into the discussion fields, or, if you would like to write up your questions in another document first, write them in a simple text editor like TextEdit or Notepad?  Thanks!

By the way, I may have cut off the end of this post when I was cleaning up, sorry about that--perhaps you can add that in in another post.




What other historical developments could have led to our differing views of suburbs? (Possibly: The era in which our countries were founded? The way in which its founders obtained the land? The advent of the automobile?)

It is quite clear that the American perspective of the "suburbs" is much more positive than the French perspective.  I understand that it is more enjoyable to live in the center of town than on the outskirts in the large apartment buildings, but do all well-to-do families live in the center of town?  I thought that it would get too crowded for all wealthy and middle-class families to live in the city.  Is there something similar in France where wealthy and middle-class families can live and not be in the middle of the city?  If places like this exist, are they also called "suburbs", or do they have a different name?

Hey guys!

Your responses to this blew me away! I grew up in the suburbs and it was such a nice place, so when I saw that many of you associated the suburbs with the ghettos, destitution and poverty, I was taken by surprise. I noticed also that one person associated Tokyo with the suburbs. Do you really consider Tokyo as the suburbs? Also, one person wrote down 93. What does 93 mean? Lastly, I know this is a little off topic, but I saw that one person associated the suburbs with rap and I wanted to know if rap was a popular genre of music in France. Who are famous french rappers? Do you listen to any american rappers in particular?

Your answers were very interesting to compare with ours. It seems that the concept of suburbs is quite different. As mentioned above, and as reflected through your responses, it was clear that immigration has a big part in this. Is immigration from the countryside to the cities viewed as a problem in France? Is immigration from other countries to France also viewed as problematic? Are there any visible efforts to improve the suburbs of Lille?

It appears that from your answers, there are two types of "suburbs" in France. One is considered the ghetto, equivalent to the American inner city, and the other type is much nicer and closer to the American suburb. Can you explain the differences between these two and what are the factors in each?

Can you perhaps expand upon what you means by "pointé du doigt"?  I'm guessing people are trying to place blame on why the suburbs have all the problems that they do (?).  Are all these words just stereotypical words that come to mind, or is there still a legitimate fear most people have about going to the suburbs?  Did any of you grow up in or have family in these areas?  How do you feel the same as your classmates about the condition of the suburbs?