awful, wasteful, void

boring, safe

city, houses, yards, far

comfortable, deceptive, middle-class

Commute, big hoses, cul-de-sacs

cookie cutter; sprawl; strip malls


difficult, expansive, bland

families, neighborhood, neighbors, barbecue

horror movie, homogeneous, unrealistic

houses, driveways, grass

identical, comfortable, safe

lawn, picket fence, children


monotonous, comfortable, homes

neighborhoods, safe, family-oriented

nice houses, quiet environment.

peaceful, quiet, home, trees

Pretty, Homes, Gardens

quaint, quiet, boring

quiet, best, freedom

quiet, boring, uniform

quiet, travel, poverty

Remote, unexciting, quiet

repetition, shrubs, soccer moms

safe, boring, middle-class

subdivisions, driving, urban sprawl

television, car, family

Undeveloped, Less crowded, residential area

éloigné, grands batiments, différentes origines.

Batiments; éloignés; personnes de différentes origines

Cité, Chic, Pauvre, Maison, Appartement, Quartier, Voisins

cité, quartier, jeunes

danger, faible niveau d'éducation

dégueulasse, cauchemard, marginalisation.

délinquants, police, quartier

délinquants, police, quartier

délinquants, violence, immeuble, drogue

en marge

Immeubles. Pauvreté. Délinquance. Trafic.

insécurité, trafic d'armes, rap, police

juste un quartier comme un autre

mise à l'écart, peu d'éffort de l'état


pauvres. racisme. insécurité. drogue.



Quartier, immeubles, préjugés

quartier, zone urbaine, jeunes

Quartiers défavorisé

quartiers, clichés

quartiers, immeubles

tours, pauvreté, police

tours, police, insécurité

ville, centre, magazin


The differences between the American posts and the French posts were profound.  The words "suburbs" and "banlieues" obviously evoke very different images in our two cultures.  In the U.S., the suburbs are no longer simply considered the neighborhoods bordering the downtown areas of a city.  The term "suburb" has evolved to mean the endless sprawl of single family homes that stretches tens of miles from urban areas, often far enough to essentially connect two cities together.

Therefore, in the U.S., we think of these areas as safe, peaceful, boring, but lacking in any cultural richness.  In France, the term "banlieue" is associated with words like "danger, drugs, violence, police, protests, immigrants, delinquents, etc."  If this is the term for the roughest and most dangerous areas near cities, what is the term for he quiet neighborhoods of single family homes that stretch out into the countryside? 


Jeff Rominger

The English word 'suburb' generally implies an area of single-family homes or small townhouses.  However, one of the French associations seemed to be apartment buildings, which would be very rare in an American suburb.

The association of large tower blocks with public housing projects and poverty is still there in Americain culture; it's just that those are located more toward the center of the city rather than on the outskirts.



The reaction to "suburbs" surprised me because of the very different opinion of the French and American students. Apparently in France, suburbs are associated with violence and poverty, whereas in the United States suburbs are associated with typical middle-class families.

The contrast between French and American suburban reality is absolutely astounding.  In the United States, the term, "the suburbs", brings to mind residential communities on the outskirts of town where rows of quaint, nearly-identical houses line the streets, separated only by the hedges neatly-manicured gardens.  In France, however, it seems that the "banlieues" are largely underprivileged, underserved communities, plagued with economic and social decay.  It seems from the description, that these neighborhoods, which are quite similar to America's "inner cities", would stand to benefit greatly from the creation of rehabilitative social programs like early childhood education initiatives, teen counseling, and drug rehabilitation programs, among others. 

To what extent have such efforts been made?  How successful have they been?  If you had the ability to take corrective action now, what would you do to improve the harsh daily reality of life in "les banlieues"? 

The perceptions of American suburbs is that of safety and pleasantness, and at worst boring. While the perceptions of the French banlieues are that of violence, immigrants, drugs and poverty.

In this case, it may be the voice of the young, educated classes speaking.

My fairly extensive time in the banlieues surrounding Paris have yielded nothing more trouble than a "hello" on the street; yet I've witnessed plenty of drugs in Paris nightclubs. Poor doesn't need to equal high crime.

At the same time, the American students may be thinking of wealthy suburbs such as Wellesly MA and Darien CT and not so much poor ones such as Revere MA, San Isidro CA and East Saint Louis IL. There are plenty of dangerous American suburbs fraught with drug and gang problems.

Les réponses Francaises sont surtout en rapport avec les Banlieues qui se trouvent à l'exterieur des grosses villes Francaises, et surtout celles de Paris. Si les mots sont "violence", "drogue" etc .... c'est parce que ces banlieues connaissent de gros problèmes d'intégration et d'insécurité liés à la pauvreté qui les caractérises.Mais il existe aussi en France des Banlieue chics et riches, et dont il est très agréable d'y vivre.

Les réponses américaines sont plutôt positives, avec des mots qui mettent en valeur les banlieues. Je pense qu'en effet l'organisation des banlieues et des quartiers doivent être mieux organisés aux Etat-Unis qu'en France ..... ?


I don't know if you could consider the organisation of the suburbs better here in America.  We have the same problems that you have in your suburbs only in our cities.  If you asked americans to tell you what they think of the word "inner city" they would probably tell you things like "dangerous", "poverty", etc.  In New York for example many people who make a lot of money working in New York want to live outside of the city either on Long Island or in Westchester (these are suburbs). 

Do the people at your school want to live in paris when they're done with school or are their smaller towns that people frequently want to live in?

Erika's completely correct - and not only do the issues of drug-use and violence associated with poverty and a lack of education affect the inner cities, but increasingly, I believe, they will begin to affect our suburbs with as large an effect as they do those in France.

The process which is causing this shift from urban to suburban America is called "gentrification" - the economically-forced migration of impoverished populations from central urban areas to the outskirts of town - or out of town entirely. 

Basically, this is how it happens - in the US, one must pay taxes every year to the government based on the value of one's property.   Currently, because the inner cities are struggling with crime and inter-generational poverty, the land value is low, and so are the taxes.  They have been this way for a long time, and thanks to the relatively low cost many people in those communities have been able to meet the payment requirements and own and retain for decades the small plots of land on which they and their families live. 

Increasingly, though, wealthy young professionals are interested in buying the cheap property, "fixing things up" and moving into inner cities so they can live closer to their offices in town.  The problem is that this tends to elevate the value of urban land, and make the taxes so high that the poorer residents of the area can no longer afford to keep the land and homes their families have owned for generations!  They are being forced out because they cannot pay, and are moving far out of the city into more affordable suburban areas as a result. 

The issues of poverty and lack of education among the migrating communities, however, remain unresolved, and crime and violence will move with them.  I think this phenomenon will create a situation here in the US very similar to that currently being witnessed in France.

What is the taxation system like in France?  Are citizens in poorer areas protected from property/land tax, or are they made to pay along with everyone else?  Also, who lives in the impoverished <>?  Are they mainly Moroccan and Tunisian immigrants?  Or are they primarily from elsewhere?


En effet en France de plus en plus de personnes cherchent à s'installer dans des villes plus petites que Paris, contrairement à autrefois.

Car malgré toutes les choses positives que l'on peut dire sur Paris, la vie n'y est pas forcément toujours facile, et les Francais ont tendance de plus en plus à s'installer à proximité de villes moyennes, pour y chercher une proximité campagne/ville . Mais ce n'est pas toujours possible financièrement pour beaucoup de gens, d'ou les banlieues avec de grands immeubles que l'on appelle en France HLM ( Habitation à Loyer Modéré ), qui entraine la pauvreté et les tensions.

Existe t'il en Amerique des banlieues, concernant la classe moyenne ? Ni riche ni pauvre.

En reponse à Erika Lowden, je pence que tu a raison sur un certain point. En effet les villes françaises sont plus petites qu'aux USA, nos banlieues sont situé sur les périphéries de nos centres villes, qui sont eux très chic. Nos banlieue sont défavorisées alors que chez vous c'est simplement le contraire. Vivre en banlieue est signe de reussite, de tranquillité. Je pence tout que c'est une question historique, en effet l'europe est "le vieux continent" et les USA est un pays jeune issue de l'immigration, l'urbanisation n'a dc pas étais faites de la meme manière. En france au moyenne age le chateau étais au centre et les paysans tout autour, alors qu'a la suite de la découverte des USA les riche colons enménagé en dehors des villes qui étais malfamées. Je pence donc que c'est l'origine de l'urbanisation qui a fait cette différence entre les USA et l'Europe.

Nos banlieues sont très différentes des votres mais le terme banlieue n'est pas très approprié car vos banlieues sont des quartiers résidentiels ou vivent beaucoup de familles alors que nos banlieues font plus référence à des quartiers en difficulté.

En effet nous n'avons pas la même vision de la banlieue. Enormément de "clichés" y son associés. Même si ce ne sont pas les mêmes sortes de clichés qu'en france, pensez vous qu'il y ai des préjugés également sur les banlieues ? 

Pour répondre à ta dernière question Khalea, je pense qu'il est difficile de proposer des idées pour l'amélioration du quotidien en banlieue sans y avoir vécu au moins un certain temps... car malheureusement beaucoup de préjugés dirigent nos idées vers de mauvaise directions.



In response to Xavier:

Those are interesting points that you make.  I agree that the urbanization process has been very different in our two countries.  Over 100 years ago, suburbs meant a much different thing.  Although they were not associated with violence and drugs, they were high-density residential areas near the periphery of a city, mostly comprised of row houses or apartments.  The construction of our highway system and cheap gasoline in America were very conducive to the new type of American suburb that can be several miles from the downtown of a city.  We do have neighborhoods that have the same issues as the stereo-typed French 'banlieues,' but these are no longer considered suburbs, and more just thought of as "the city."  Take the areas of the South Side of Chicago, places in Queens or the Bronx and areas around Los Angeles.

I have read about several "high-profile" incidents in the banlieues, and wonder if the media hype associated with these have brought on an unwarranted negative connotation?


Thank you for your reply.  Yes, it is difficult to find solutions to these problems everywhere, so I suppose the lack of reform, though sad, is not too surprising.

In response to your question, I think that because, as you said the image of the American suburb contrasts so sharply with the image of <>, the prejudice which may exist against their residents in France is not something that is present here.  I do think, however that much of American society views our inner-cities with the same sort of distaste and intolerance that it seems many citizens of France view your banlieues.


tu dis vrais quand tu dis que les médias ont un role important dans les visons que l'on a des choses, certe ils profitent des incidents qui s'y passent pour vendre plus ou faire une sorte de peur médiatisé, mais ils ne sont pas les seuls a donner une vison négative des banlieues, les rappeurs y participent aussi activement. Je pence que cela est peut étre démesuré mais les banlieues restent un endroit dangereux.

J'ai trouvé interressant de te montrer ce clip d'un groupe de rap français, pour que tu puisse le comparer a ceux réaliser aux USA, peut étre auras tu une vision différentes des choses après l'avoir visionnée. Ce clip est l'un des plus durs realisé.