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The spatial dynamics of gentrification in Paris: a synthesis map

Anne Clerval
Traduction de Angela Verdier
Cet article est une traduction de :
Les dynamiques spatiales de la gentrification à Paris


This article presents a synthetic map of the spatial dynamics of gentrification in Paris since the 1960s. While the notion of gentrification has given rise to numerous studies since the 1970s, in particular in Britain and North America, very few researchers have focused on the spatial dynamics of this process in a given city, or made attempts to map the phenomenon. The synthesis map proposed here is derived from a global, multiscalar approach to gentrification in Paris, and uses three different sources: statistical analyses of the census data for 1982, 1990 and 1999, the work by Daniel Noin and Yvan Chauviré presented in their Atlas des Parisiens (1984), and between 2004 and 2007, surveys in the field in three Paris neighbourhoods at different stages in the gentrification process. These different sources enable an interpretation of gentrification as a process of spatial diffusion from centre to periphery starting from a historical core in the beaux quartiers of the west of Paris. This confirms the analyses reported by the Anglo-American studies, in which gentrification appears as a process of social conquest taking the form of a pioneer frontier. The aim of this article is to present an original cartography of this process using the example of Paris.

Keywords: gentrification, social filtering up, social divisions of space, spatial dynamics, pioneer frontier, cartography, working-class neighborhood/neighbourhood

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Notes de la rédaction

Cet article est une traduction de l’article Les dynamiques spatiales de la gentrification à Paris.

Texte intégral

1The notion of gentrification is interesting in that it puts emphasis on both the dynamics of the social divisions of space, and on the complexity of the patterns involved, which relate both to social and to urban change. The term is used to refer to a particular form of embourgeoisement or upward filtering in working-class neighbourhoods which entails changes in the habitat, in the public spaces and in the retail trade landscape. This notion, which has been analysed from the 1970s in Britain and North America, has generated a large international corpus of study, and some work is now being undertaken in France (Bidou Zachariasen, 2003; Fijalkow & Préteceille, 2006; Authier & Bidou-Zachariasen, 2008). Gentrification, a process of conquest of working-class neighbourhoods by the middle and upper classes, can be viewed as an adaptation of the earlier urban space to the present state of social relationships. Nevertheless this process, which derives from structural factors, does entail conflict, and supposes deliberate action by a variety of different actors (Clerval, 2006).

2In general, researchers study this phenomenon on the local scale of a neighbourhood (Smith, 1979; Beauregard, 1990; Vicario & Matinez Monje, 2003; Bernt & Holm, 2005) or for a city as a whole (Hamnett & Williams, 1980; Ley, 1986; Butler, Hamnett & Ramsden, 2008). While the question of the temporal patterns of gentrification have been widely explored using the model developed by Timothy Pattison (1977), sometimes comparing different neighbourhoods of a given city (Van Crieckingen & Decroly, 2003), the same is not true for the spatial dynamics of the phenomenon. Only the case of London seems sufficiently well-known for certain authors to have attempted a synthesis of the progression of gentrification in time and space for this city (Richard, 2001; Butler & Robson, 2003). Nevertheless, this synthesis has not been backed up by a map enabling visualisation of the spatial dynamics of gentrification in London since the beginnings of the trend.

  • 1 The Île-de-France is the administrative region surrounding Paris.

3The case of the French capital is far less well known. The transformation of the social space in Paris was, it is true, the subject of major studies at the start of the 20th century (Halbwachs, 1908) and in the 1950s (Chombart & Lauwe, 1952), the 1960s (Coing, 1966) or the 1970s (Lojkine, 1972; Godard et al, 1973), with particular emphasis on the role of the public authorities in the processes of embourgeoisement. Since the valuable statistical synthesis provided by the Atlas des Parisiens (Noin, 1984), few researchers have pursued the analysis of the Parisian and Île-de-France1 social space as whole (Préteceille, 2003; Rhein 2007), and not much is known of the contemporary dynamics of these processes, in particular those that precede or extend beyond public interventions aiming to rehabilitate urban areas, among which the process of gentrification. The few studies specifically devoted to gentrification in Paris concern a particular neighbourhood, such as the Marais area (Carpenter and Lees, 1995), Belleville (Simon, 1994), or the Goutte d’Or neighbourhood (Bacqué & Fijalkow, 2006).

4The aim of this article is to present a synthetic map (figure 6) of the progression of gentrification in Paris since the 1960s. This map is derived from the interpretation of statistical analyses and field surveys conducted for a thesis, which confirm the studies published in English that analyse gentrification as a pioneer frontier (Smith, 1996; Atkinson & Bridge, 2005). While these studies have shown that gentrification functions as a process of social “conquest” of working-class neighbourhoods by the middle and upper classes, they did not implement a mapping process enabling the visualisation of the spatial dynamics. The contribution of the present article is that it offers this cartographic base for Paris, derived from varied sources, more robust than mere observations in the field.

5We will first set out the method used to develop the map, and then go on to see how it casts light on the gentrification process in Paris.

A multiscalar retrospective approach

  • 2 There are 20 urban districts within Paris called arrondissements.

6The development of this map entails a global approach to gentrification, aiming to highlight the factors, the main actors and the social consequences of this process. To enable an analysis that is at once global and detailed, the choice was made to restrict the field of study to the city of Paris: this does not imply any denial or neglect of the process of gentrification in the suburbs, but the aim is to trace the beginnings and the different phases in the process in the centre of the . The city of Paris is analysed as a whole, in detail, using the statistical data from the last three general population censuses (1982, 1990, and 1999). This statistical analysis is completed by field surveys conducted between 2004 and 2007 in three neighbourhoods at different stages in the gentrification process: the Faubourg Saint-Antoine (11th and 12th arrondissements2) where the process is nearly complete, the Faubourg du Temple (10th and 11th arrondissements) where it is still underway, and Château Rouge (18th arrondissement) where it is beginning (Figure 1). The complementary nature of the different methods enables a multiscalar approach of gentrification, positioning the particular dynamic of each neighbourhood in the wider context of the city as a whole, and dating back to the 1980s. This enables a specific analysis of the spatial dynamics of gentrification in Paris that would have not been possible from the sole exploration of only one or only a few districts. In addition, the retrospective nature of the data enables an analysis of the process over time, backed up by the narratives of former inhabitants in relation to the beginnings of gentrification in their neighbourhoods: here again, it is complementary methods that make it possible to trace the history of gentrification within the Parisian space. Nevertheless, since the process started before the 1980s, reference is also made to the work by Daniel Noin and Yves Chauviré in their Atlas des Parisiens (1984) to seek out the first phases of gentrification in Paris. These sources are heterogeneous, which is why the map developed from them is not a demonstration as such, but an interpretation, synthesising the different sources. The purpose of this article is to present the way in which it was constructed, and the choices underpinning its development.

The statistical data used

  • 3 Ilôts Regroupés pour l’Information Statistique: groups of ilôts (blocks) generally comprising aroun (...)
  • 4 The French national statistical institute INSEE provided general population census data at IRIS lev (...)

7As stated above, this synthesis map is first of all based on statistical and cartographic work using the IRIS3 units for Paris as a whole. The main types of data used here are the detailed data on the professions and socio-professional categories (PCS in French) of households, the characteristics of housing, and the nationalities in the overall population. This data is derived from the general population census data for 1982, 1990, and 19994.

8It is not possible here to reproduce all the statistical analyses and the maps from which the final synthesis was developed. This is why it is the general method that is presented, explaining the choice of data used for two sets of maps representing the geography of PCSs at IRIS level (Figures 4 and 5).

9To capture the dynamics of gentrification requires analysis of both the social geography and the housing geography. For the social aspect, the choice was to work from PCSs rather than income, for two reasons. Firstly, detailed SPCs make it possibly to indirectly capture class status, thus not restricting the information to economic capital alone such as income, thereby positioning the analysis in the general framework of social relationships (Desrosières & Thévenot, 2002). Secondly, the distribution of income is globally correlated with that of PCSs, so that PCSs can be viewed as indirect indicators of income (Coutrot, 2002). PCSs can be analysed in different reference populations, and most often it is the working population that is used. It can be noted that Edmond Préteceille (2007) using the detailed PCSs of the working population in 1990 and 1999, expressed doubt as to the usefulness of the notion of gentrification to analyse social and urban change in the Paris agglomeration: indeed, using this reference population, no Paris IRIS appeared working-class in 1990 in relation to the rest of the Île-de-France area, which suggested that there was no gentrification as such in Paris between 1990 and 1999. Nevertheless Préteceille himself suggests that the process might have started earlier. It therefore appears necessary to go back at least to 1982 in order to capture the phenomenon. Indeed, using the working population has the disadvantage of excluding retired individuals from the social analysis, while they accounted for 18% of the total population of Paris in 1999. The social distribution of retirees carries the marks of the past social structures, and it can be noted that the share of the working classes is larger among retirees than in the working population (Figures 2 and 3).

  • 5 The “population of households” corresponds to all the occupants of dwellings. It is the equivalent (...)
  • 6 By default, the household reference person is the man. Unfortunately, the census does not enable cl (...)

10This is why the choice was to use the population of households5 rather than the working population, so as to included retired individuals in the social analysis, and also to take account of the respective weight of the different households. Indeed, the population of households classifies all the occupants of one and the same dwelling (a household) according to the PCS of the household reference person6, and integrates the share of the children into the analysis of the social structure. It therefore offers a representation that is closer to the resident population than to the working population.

  • 7 There are six groups in the French INSEE classification (PCS), roughly corresponding to the followi (...)

11Using the detailed PCSs of the household population it is possible to reconstitute the main socio-professional groups7, incorporating retirees, whose previous occupation is known. It is then possible to develop maps of the social geography of the middle and upper classes represented by the group of executives, professionals and intellectual professions. This category includes highly qualified professions, salaried or otherwise, or professions that rank high in the salary scale (in France, class A civil servants for instance). Thus this socio-professional group is characterised by a high cultural capital and middle to high incomes. It is from this category that gentrifiers generally derive, along with a certain proportion from the bourgeoisie of the beaux quartiers (traditionally the well-to-do areas of the city). The maps in figure 4 show the progression of the exectuvies, professionals and intellectual professions category in the Parisian space between 1982 and 1999, from the traditionally wealthy areas in the west to the traditionally working-class neighbourhoods in the east.

IRIS units between 1982, 1990 and 1999

12In similar manner, the map of the geography of the working classes can be drawn up, by grouping blue and white-collar workers, whose levels of qualification and income are fairly close and who often form households one with the other, with the white-collar group (office workers, retail trade employees, etc.) being predominantly female (Chauvel, 2001; Rhein, 2007). These maps make it possible to visualise the decline of the presence of the working classes between 1982 and 1999, as they moved out towards the peripheral areas of the city (Figure 5).


13These maps show a general structure that contrasts the centre and the periphery, and the progression of the middle and upper classes appears as a diffusion process from the beaux quartiers in the west, and a concomitant withdrawal of the working classes according to the same itinerary. It is nevertheless a process of diffusion-expansion (Brown, 1968) in the quarters that are gentrifying, rather than a diffusion by migration of the populations from the beaux quartiers. Indeed, the grande bourgeoisie remains established in the west of Paris, with a tendency rather to extend their elected territory into the western suburbs. Households from the middle and upper classes settling increasingly in the east and north are from the centre, the suburbs, or outside Paris in similar proportions: at a certain level of income or capital for the purchase of a home, the housing available is increasingly situated in the north and east of Paris as the years pass. Thus in the term diffusion should be understood the diffusion of gentrification itself, rather than that of the wealthy classes. Even so, this diffusion does indeed move out from the beaux quartiers, by a sort of metamorphism progressively converting the nearest neighbourhoods that are the best situated in relation to the centre.

14This centre-periphery structure is confirmed by multivariate analysis, and in particular by the typologies constructed from hierarchical ascending classification, whether for the detailed PCSs of the population of households, or for the characteristics of the housing according to PCS of the reference person in the household (Clerval, 2008). The analysis of the characteristics of housing makes it possible to capture the ongoing gentrification indirectly, by way of the changes occurring in the housing, even if rehabilitation is not mentioned as such in the census: a reduction in the number of small homes, homes without basic comforts, or again the numbers of executive and professional households in the larger homes in the working class neighbourhoods, are all indicators of gentrification. These transformations in the housing accompany the progression of the executive and professional category among households in the eastern part of Paris.

15The progression of this process from one vicinity to the next, from the centre formed by the bourgeois core of the beaux quartiers to the periphery of north-eastern Paris, lends credence to the interpretation of gentrification as a pioneer “frontier” (Smith, 1996). The diffusion of gentrification towards the communes of the first suburbs, linked to the centre by the underground network, has since the end of the 1990s (Collet, 2008) confirmed the general centre-periphery model governing gentrification in the Paris urban agglomeration. This gentrification frontier is not however linear: the maps provided in figures 4 and 5 make it possible to see “advanced posts”, for example around the Buttes-Chaumont (19th arrondissement) in the north east of Paris, and also skirting or bypass processes, in particular in the centre of the right bank area, around the Faubourg Saint-Denis. This point will be returned to later. Regarding the neighbourhoods skirted by the gentrification process (at least for a while), the geographical analyses of the nationalities of the total population show that they are neighbourhoods in which the share the non-EU foreign population is the largest. These quarters are also characterised by housing in very poor condition, less suitable for gentrification than other areas where the housing is of better quality.

16The statistical analysis of the census data for 1982, 1990 and 1999 enables apprehension of the main features of the dynamics of gentrification, showing that it is a diffusion process, nevertheless comprising advanced posts, and bypass effects around the most badly deteriorated quarters, generally taken over by populations of foreign origin from poor nations.

The comparison with the Atlas des Parisiens

  • 8 The administrative quartier is a subdivision of the arrondissement. There are four quartiers in eac (...)

17In order to obtain an enhanced historical perspective, the work by D. Noin and Y. Chauviré (1984) for the censuses of 1962, 1968, and 1975 was also referred to. These authors used the PCSs of the working population divided into the 9 categories of the time, in the 80 quartiers8 of Paris. The maps derived from this work cannot therefore be compared term-for-term with those constructed for the present work. Nevertheless, the typologies of the neighbourhoods according to their social profiles established for 1962 and 1975 show a social geography of Paris in which the signs of the beginnings of gentrification can be detected, in particular on the left bank of the Seine. The authors capture the general embourgeoisement of this area at the time. With hindsight, it can be supposed that this phenomenon conjugated various processes: the embourgeoisement of spaces that were socially mixed and intermediate, situated immediately next to the bourgeois quarters (5th and 15th arrondissements in particular) on the one hand, and on the other the gentrification of working-class spaces (the 13th arrondissement, and the Plaisance neighbourhood, 14th). It can also be thought that the first phase corresponds to the completion phase of the gentrification of previously working-class quarters such as Javel (15th) or Saint Victor (5th), where is began with the reconstruction and development undertaken by Haussmann in the 19th century. These maps also make it possible to show not only that in 1975 the right bank of the Seine was not yet undergoing gentrification, but also that, on the contrary, working-class neighbourhoods were strengthening their hold in the centre, a phenomenon probably related to the large arrivals of immigrants in the 1960s.

18It is therefore from these maps that it was possible to plot out the advance of the gentrification front in the 1960s and 1970s.

Field surveys

19Finally, to complete the statistical analyses, in which the most recent data dated back to 1999, field surveys were conducted in the three neighbourhoods on the right bank quoted earlier. These surveys implemented three different methods:

  • the observation of a neighbourhood in the course of time, with particular attention to habitat, retail trade, street atmosphere, and public spaces, and also to representations of the neighbourhood.

    • 9 80 interviews in all, distributed more or less equally among the three neighbourhoods.

    semi-directive interviews9 including life narratives, with inhabitants from different social classes, long-established or recently arrived, and also with private actors (café proprietors, estate agents, promoters), public actors (local elected representatives, municipality agents) and association members (in particular social centres).

  • questionnaires administered to inhabitants to complete the interviews.

20From observation and interview content, it was possible to apprehend the progression of the gentrification process in these neighbourhoods, and also to get a clearer picture of the bypass effects characteristic of the immigrant quarters. Whether it is the Maghreb population of the Goutte d’Or area, the Africans of Château-Rouge, the Turks and the Pakistanis of the Faubourg Saint-Denis, or the Chinese of Belleville, the immigrant populations everywhere show an ability to appropriate space, in particular by way of trade and retail outlets, which give them great visibility in these quarters. This strong implantation of immigrants in the habitat, in trade and in the public space of a quarter has a slowing effect on gentrification.

21While the field surveys are the most incomplete source, since they do not provide an overall view as precisely as do statistics, it is nevertheless observation in the field and the narratives of inhabitants that make it possible to determine when gentrification became tangible in a given neighbourhood. There is indeed a time lapse between the arrival of the first gentrifiers and the gentrification of a whole neighbourhood. The 5th arrondissement appears to have been reached by the gentrification front in the 1960s and 1970s, but the real beginnings can be dated back to the Haussmann developments in the Saint-Victor and Sorbonne neighbourhoods; likewise, the Faubourg Saint-Antoine was only really altered by gentrification in the 1990s, but the first gentrifiers set up there at the end of the 1970s (Bidou, 1984). The visibility of gentrification depends on the general rehabilitation of the housing, the transformation of retail trade, and the fact that the area is fashionable and attracts populations from other parts of the city, at least in the early stages. It is at this time that it can be considered that the gentrification frontier has reached this or that neighbourhood, even if the first gentrifiers arrived ten or twenty years previously. And finally, it is from the interviews and the regular practice of the Paris space that it was possible to approximately trace the gentrification frontier in the years after 2000.

The construction of the map

22From the point of view of the mode of representation chosen, the shading techniques focus on the dynamic nature of the process. The gentrification frontier is shown in blue, like the beaux quartiers, since it is a process of “conquest” of the working-class neighbourhoods by the middle and upper classes. However the colour is gradually faded, to recall that the social profile of the gentrifiers is markedly distanced from the bourgeoisie of the beaux quartiers. As the map is static, it cannot represent the successive waves of gentrification that followed one another in a given working-class quarter: the middle-class households that are the first gentrifiers in a working-class area are progressively replaced by wealthier households. Thus the social profile of the beaux quartiers has today reached the 5th arrondissement and part of the 9th, the 1st and the 15th. Gentrification is indeed a cumulative process, the dynamics of which do not cease to function, even if the pace may vary according to neighbourhood and according to period. Generally speaking, the pace of gentrification appears slower in Paris than in London or New York, on account of the late support of public policies for these dynamics (Clerval, 2008).

23The areas of flat colour enable visualisation of the poles between which the gentrification frontier moves:

  • the historical core of the beaux quartiers (in blue) forms the emission pole, although it is not the inhabitants of these wealthy neighbourhoods that move out, but rather middle-class households that come to settle close by, and then a little further away.

  • the greatest concentrations of immigrant populations today (in particular from outside the EU) represented in red, form resistance poles where the gentrification process is slower than elsewhere, and which are skirted by the gentrification process.

  • the peripheral ring of social housing (in yellow), which sometimes extends into the peripheral Paris arrondissements, corresponds to the boundaries of gentrification in the city of Paris, so long as social housing is not privatised. This boundary is however crossed in the near suburbs, by way of the underground lines.

24Finally every frontier line is preceded by advanced posts which orient the dynamics of gentrification, in particular towards the north-east of Paris. Since this map sets out to synthesise, the outlines used are intentionally simplified so as to emphasis the general shape of the gentrification frontier.

The spatial dynamics of gentrification in Paris: a diffusion process from the beaux quartiers

25The map derived from this work (figure 6) thus makes it possible to position the different phases of gentrification within the Parisian space since the 1960s. It provides a synthetic representation of the spatial dynamics of gentrification in Paris, interpreting it as a process of spatial diffusion. Thus the map illustrate the spatial layout of the process of social and urban conquest already demonstrated in the English-language research literature.

26In Paris, gentrification appears first of all as an extension of the wealthy quarters, the beaux quartiers, in the 1960s and 1970s, mainly on the left bank of the Seine. In the housing, this takes on different forms: demolitions and new buildings in the 15th arrondissement, on public or private initiative (the Beaugrenelle-Front de Seine and Maine-Montparnasse developments), re-occupation of the buildings dating from the Haussmann developments in the 1st, 9th and 14th arrondissements, rehabilitation of former working-class buildings in the 5th and 6th arrondissements (in particularly around Rue Mouffetard and Saint-André-des-Arts) as well as in the above-mentioned arrondissements.

  • 10 In the French context, rénovation refers to the demolition and reconstruction of a neighbourhood le (...)

27In the 1980s, gentrification spreads and becomes visible across the rest of the left bank (13th and 14th arrondissements), in particular following renovation operations10. It spreads to the right bank in the central arrondissements (1st and 4th) after the renovation of Les Halles and the improvement of the Marais quarter, and the 9th arondissement and the north-west of the 10th, following the Haussmann axis formed by Rue Lafayette. It is also at this time that the periphery of the 12th arrondissement, to the south west of Nation square, is converted by the re-occupation of Haussmann constructions and the building of new housing, close to the Bois de Vincennes. The gentrification of the 12th arrondissement appears as a relative exception to the centre-periphery diffusion logic, since it forms a diffusion core having no immediate continuity with the rest of the frontier. This can be explained both by the quality of the buildings (the Haussmann constructions) and by the proximity of the bois de Vincennes and the relatively well-off suburbs on its fringes. Gentrification continues in this area, with renovation operations of the Ilôt Chalon in the 1980s, and the Bercy ZAC in the 1990s.

  • 11 “quiet neighbourhood”: this mainly refers to a neighbourhood where traffic speed is reduced and pub (...)

28The decade of the 1990s corresponds to the completion of the gentrification movement on the left bank, in particular in the last patches of former private housing in the 13th arrondissement and the Butte-aux-Cailles area, in which the public space was improved and enhanced, becoming a “quartier tranquille11 during the mayoral office of Jean Tiberi. From this period, gentrification is concentrated on the right bank, progressing mainly by improvement of buildings. In the 1990s, gentrification extends along a cross-sectional axis from Batignolles (17th) to Bercy (12th), passing through the central and peri-central arrondissements of the right bank, while Le Sentier, the neighbourhoods of the Portes Saint-Denis and Saint-Martin (where the 2nd, 3rd and 10th arrondissements meet) remain working-class because of their immigrant working population. In the 10th and 11th arrondissements the gentrification frontier is still indented around the Faubourg du Temple, also occupied by immigrant populations.

  • 12 “Opération Programmée d’Amélioration de l’Habitat”: public grants for private homeowners to improve (...)
  • 13 “Zone d’Aménagement Concerté”: public development zone.

29In the years after 2000, gentrification progresses along the same axis, widely encroaching on the three peripheral arrondissements in the north-east area of the city (18th, 19th and 20th). While it has extended beyond the Faubourg du Temple and Belleville to the east, and reaches Château Rouge in the north, it is still only incipient in the neighbourhoods of La Chapelle (18th), La Villette and Pont de Flandre (19th), where the foreign population is numerous. Two other sectors situated behind the gentrification front are taken over in this decade: firstly Le Sentier, and the neighbourhood of the Portes Saint-Denis and Saint-Martin, both as an effect of housing pressures and as a result of an OPAH12 action in these neighbourhoods between 2000 and 2003; and secondly the Seine-Sud-Est area with the completion of the Bercy ZAC13 in 2005 and the advancement of the Paris Rive Gauche ZAC. It is possible to see here the effect of the transformation of the former warehouse zones close to the railway stations (Lyon and Austerlitz) to produce new poles for services activities, which assimilate these operations with the notion of “new-build gentrification”, even though social housing is also planned.

30While spatial diffusion is the main mode of progression of the gentrification frontier, there are also the advanced posts. These are “remarkable” spaces such as the Butte-Montmartre (18th) or the very few small neighbourhoods of individual housing in the eastern part of Paris (La Mouzaïa close to the Buttes-Chaumont, 19th, or La Campagne à Paris near the Porte de Bagnolet, 20th); or green spaces – very rare in these arrondissements to the north and east – such as the Buttes-Chaumont (19th), the Père Lachaise cemetery (20th) or the Parc de la Villette (19th); and finally the canals (Canal Saint Martin, 10th, Bassin de la Villette, and Canal de l’Ourcq, 19th). What all these spaces have in common is that they stand out clearly from the urban density that is characteristic of Paris, and offer access to greenery, water, or distant views. The importance of the role of green spaces in gentrification can be seen here, as can that of the policies that promote them. Only the marked preponderance of social housing in Belleville and its situation in the heart of an immigrant quarter appear to prevent it from becoming a centre for gentrification. On a more refined scale, other remarkable spaces of smaller size can serve to spearhead gentrification in a neighbourhood, such as courtyards and passages (mews) that are partially or completely closed off and rehabilitated.

31Thus the progression of gentrification is not always continuous. There are skirting manoeuvres, in particular around areas with large concentrations of foreign populations, in the manner of an army avoiding pockets of resistance so as to close in from behind. In this respect, the progression of gentrification on the right bank recalls to a degree the re-conquering of Paris in the hands of the communards by the Versailles army in 1871. Like that army, on the micro-local scale, gentrification wins over one or two streets, while “barricades” in neighbouring streets still hold: gentrification is at once diffuse, advancing via households acquiring and renovating a home in a neighbourhood, so many dots on the map, and also concentrated, since the dots tend to agglomerate around a street in which the shops change, close to an underground station, or close to a remarkable spot in the city. The more advanced is the gentrification, taking the form of the rehabilitation of buildings and the transformation of retail trade, the more marked is the agglomeration of gentrifying households, and the greater the diffusion beyond the initial core which serves as a manner of base for the more daring to settle further out, as property prices rise.


32This map has the advantage of presenting a synthetic view of the progression of gentrification in Paris, making it possible to embrace its spatial and temporal extent. It makes it possible to avoid restricting the process to a few neighbourhoods attracting media attention in the east of Paris, like Bastille (11th) or Sainte-Marthe (10th), and to capture the complexity of its spatial dynamics when it comes into contact with central areas occupied by immigrant populations (Toubon & Massamah, 1990) like the Faubourg Saint-Denis (10th), Belleville (19th-20th) or La Goutte d’Or (18th).

33Based on statistical analyses performed on various data at detailed level, and on field survey in three neighbourhoods at different stages in the gentrification process, this synthetic map provides an interpretation of gentrification as a process of diffusion that corresponds to the frontier logic already demonstrated elsewhere (Smith, 1996; Atkinson & Bridge, 2005).

34It is an encouragement to develop other maps of the same type for cities also experiencing a process of gentrification, in particular those that have already been widely studied, such as London, New York, Brussels or Montréal. As regards Paris, the map itself suggests the need to pursue the process beyond the boundaries of Paris and its inner ring of social housing. There is therefore incentive to pursue this work for the Paris urban agglomeration as a whole, so as to capture the specific features of the gentrification process underway, and its spatial dynamics in the peripheral areas.

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1 The Île-de-France is the administrative region surrounding Paris.

2 There are 20 urban districts within Paris called arrondissements.

3 Ilôts Regroupés pour l’Information Statistique: groups of ilôts (blocks) generally comprising around 2000 inhabitants, forming the most detailed level for diffusion of census data from 1999.

4 The French national statistical institute INSEE provided general population census data at IRIS level available for 1990 and 1999. The Atelier Parisien d’Urbanisme (APUR) provided census data for 1982 for IRIS units.

5 The “population of households” corresponds to all the occupants of dwellings. It is the equivalent of the resident population minus those who live in collective structures (who are a small minority).

6 By default, the household reference person is the man. Unfortunately, the census does not enable classification of the population of households according to the PCS of two adults in the household (when there are two).

7 There are six groups in the French INSEE classification (PCS), roughly corresponding to the following: Self-employed craftsmen, shopkeepers and business owners / High rating executives, professionals and intellectual professions / Intermediate professions (lower executives, middle-grade professionals)/ White-collar workers (office workers, non-manual, salaried)/ Blue-collar workers (manual salaried workers).

8 The administrative quartier is a subdivision of the arrondissement. There are four quartiers in each.

9 80 interviews in all, distributed more or less equally among the three neighbourhoods.

10 In the French context, rénovation refers to the demolition and reconstruction of a neighbourhood led by the public authorities. What English calls “renovation” is “réhabilitation” in a French context (translated as “improvement” here).

11 “quiet neighbourhood”: this mainly refers to a neighbourhood where traffic speed is reduced and public space enhanced.

12 “Opération Programmée d’Amélioration de l’Habitat”: public grants for private homeowners to improve their housing or building in a delimited sector.

13 “Zone d’Aménagement Concerté”: public development zone.

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Anne Clerval, « The spatial dynamics of gentrification in Paris: a synthesis map », Cybergeo: European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Espace, Société, Territoire, document 553, mis en ligne le 21 octobre 2011, consulté le 13 juin 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Anne Clerval

Maîtresse de conférences en géographie, Université de Paris Est – Laboratoire Analyse comparée des pouvoirs, France

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