- The Alès agglomeration is increasing the number of campaigns in the metro to encourage project leaders in the Ile-de-France region and residents to “leave Paris” to reach the Gard.
- According to Christophe Rivenq (LR), president of the agglomeration of Alès, “numerous studies show that a certain number of inhabitants, families, executives, seniors, were a little fed up with metropolitan life, in Paris, and elsewhere ”.
- “A larger apartment, access to close nature: these cities inevitably attract”, explains the doctor in economics, Lise Bourdeau-Lepage.
Alès (Gard) is displayed in 400 by 150 centimeters in the Paris metro. The capital of the Cévennes “smiles on the daring”, we read on the many posters that have flourished in the corridors over the past few days. The objective is to encourage those who have projects in the Ile-de-France region to “leave Paris” to join the sub-prefecture of Gard.
Entrepreneurs attracted by this move to the South-East can participate in a competition, with, at the end of the day, one year’s rent offered, support from a business incubator and a financial endowment. About sixty have already downloaded an application file. And this is not the first time that the Cévennes metropolitan area has addressed Parisians: in 2020, it had promised, this time to individuals, in campaigns on the RATP docks, that it “did not lack ‘air’, and that it was “a city on a human scale”, surfing the exodus to the province, which the epidemic precipitated.
“We have everything”
“We wanted, in this new mandate, after having rehabilitated, renovated, developed this territory, to try to attract neo-Alésiens to us,” confides Christophe Rivenq (LR), president of the agglomeration of Alès. Because many studies show that a certain number of inhabitants, families, executives, seniors, were a little fed up with metropolitan life, in Paris, and elsewhere. This crisis has amplified this phenomenon. We thought we were going to try to play our card. “
For the elected official, in the old mining town, close to the countryside, “we have everything. Unless tomorrow you need to undergo heart, kidney, lung surgery, in which case you will go to Montpellier. But otherwise, we have everything. We can do anything here. And the quality of life is clearly better than in the big cities. In my opinion, if we do not quickly rebalance our country, we are going into the wall. We cannot let think that the future is only possible in hyper polluted, hyper stressful metropolises. “
“We sometimes suffer from an old and unfair image”
In Alès, whose agglomeration has 130,000 inhabitants, if it is still very high, the unemployment rate has been falling for five years. It went from 17.1% in 2015 to 13.3% in 2020. Long dependent on its mines, the territory has gradually transformed its economy, after their closure in the 1980s. It is today the third pole industrialist from Occitania. But Alès was not always so dynamic. “We sometimes suffer from an old and unfair image of a black city, poor, an old mining town, landlocked, for those who do not know us, continues the elected. But as soon as we are visited, for vacation or for work, the image changes. To try Alès is to adopt it! “
The capital of the Cévennes, where Julien Doré, Alexandra and Audrey Lamy and Lionnel Astier are from, is not the only “medium-sized city” in Occitania to have tried to seduce Parisians with a communication campaign: in 2019, Béziers, another disaster-stricken city in the region which is regaining color, had encouraged Ile-de-France residents to “leave the Parisian jungle”, by guaranteeing “200 m2 for 800 euros per month”, “300 days of sunshine per year” and a splash in the Mediterranean “15 minutes away”.
A compromise between the countryside and the big city
Numerous surveys show, with the epidemic, that “people aspire to more nature, to a better living environment”, confirms Lise Bourdeau-Lepage, professor of geography and doctor of economics at Jean-Moulin University, in Lyon. “With the current crisis, Parisians no longer have the benefits of being in Paris: going out, going to restaurants, to the cinema, to the theater, to museums, when they feel like it,” says the researcher, a specialist in attractiveness of the territories. And in addition, they are confined or semi-confined in cramped apartments. They say to themselves that they can go elsewhere, to cities where they can telecommute, and go up from time to time to the capital. “
In this context, medium-sized towns, like Alès, have an interest in showing their strengths. A perfect compromise between the deep countryside and the big city. “People tell themselves that they will have a bigger apartment, access to nearby nature,” continues Lise Bourdeau-Lepage. Obviously, these cities attract. On condition that they have, in particular, good access to the Internet network, and rail links. “But, notes the professor, this exodus can only concern a” fringe “of the Parisian population, more affluent, which is not” stuck by their housing and their work “.