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Top 20 Growth Towns and Cities

The population growth of some towns in France over the past 30 years has been quite spectacular.

The town that has grown the most is the coastal resort of Fréjus in the Var, Provence Cotes d’Azur, which has seen its population soar by 71% between 1975 and 2006.

Second spot is taken by the town of Annemasse on the Franco-Swiss border in Haut-Savoie, whose population increased by 56%.

Other towns which have increased by more than 50% are Arcachon (Gironde, Aquitaine) and Toulouse (Haut-Garonne, Midi-Pyrenees).

The following table shows the top twenty growth towns and cities, together with the department in which they are located.

The figures come from a study of the population growth of the 112 towns and cities in France with a population over 50,000 carried out by researchers Jean-François Dumont and Laurent Chalard for the publication Population & Avenir.

Growth Towns in France
RankDepartmentEvolution 1975-2006
1Fréjus (83)+71.7%
2Annemasse (74)+55.6%
3Arcachon (33)+52.2%
4Toulouse (31)+51.9%
5Thonon-les-Bains (74)+49.3%
6Cluses (74)+47.0%
7Montpellier (34)+44.9%
8Vannes (56)+36.9%
9Villefranche-sur-Saône (69)+36.6%
10Meaux (77)+35.2%
11Haguenau (67)+34.7%
12Annecy (74)+34.1%
13Sète (34)+34.0%
14Perpignan (66)+30.6%
15Nice (06)+30.2%
16Chambéry (73)+29.9%
17Ajaccio (2A)+29.9%
18Narbonne (11)+29.1%
19Orléans (45)+28.7%
20Avignon (84)+28.2%

As can be seen, of the 20 top growth towns, the vast majority are located in the southern half of the country.

The average growth of all the towns and cities in the study was 12.2%.

The authors state that the level of growth for the top 20 is explained only in part by the agreeable nature of the lifestyle in these towns.

The other trigger for their growth has been their satellite status in proximity to existing large economic centres. This is the case, for instance, for Arcachon, which offers an attractive residential area for those working in Bordeaux.

The same applies to Thonon-les Bains, which is located near to Geneva and the Swiss border, over which many French travel to work each day.

A number of the largest cities are not in the top 20, either because of planning constraints on development (such as Paris), or simply because of low economic growth (such as Marseilles).

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This article was featured in our Newsletter dated 01/02/2011

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