Urban development models in Europe: south of France

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France is an amazing country, however you look at it.

In addition to the overwhelming nature and the touching historical heritage, there is a factor that attracts the attention as soon as you go through any of the existing border crossings along the Pyrenees: the huge amount of different-sized towns, villages, domains or solitary houses occupying the rural lands in France.

Generally, they do it in a distributed and integrated with the environment way, what helps to preserve its genuineness. There is a basic aspect contributing to it: the peculiar urban model of the south of France.

Providing an access to all the rural population centres with the minimum safety and comfort conditions is difficult, and means that the urbanization elements such as roads and streets, pavements, hard shoulders, railings, curbs, bollards, road markings, etcetera, meet a basic principle: functionality rather than design.

This austere, functional, economic, durable and environmentally respectful features brings as a consequence that streets and roads are absolutely conditioned to the position of the existing buildings; the pavements are made of concrete or even asphalt, being an extension of the street or road in many cases, separated by safety elements like bollards, road marks or railings installed as best as possible; electrical and communication lines are usually aerial (hold in masts or front of buildings).

This photos I took days ago in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon show some examples:


Urbanization components such as urban furniture, tiles, pavé, curbs, underground conducts for electricity and communication services, are typically limited to specific points of the towns, like the centre and places of interest within the town.

Only on this urbanisation model, can be addressed the requirements of this part of the country, keeping its genuine features.

What´s your opinion? Do you prefer more centralized population areas, safer and more comfortable and equipped, at the expense even of the historical and cultural heritage?