Today, three quarters of the French population live in cities. The urban units with more than 5,000 inhabitants bring together 60% of the population ( Hilal/Schaeffer/Détang-Dessendre 2013 : 63). The most urbanised areas are the Paris and Lyon metropolitan areas, the Mediterranean coast, the old industrial areas of the North and the Northeast and the major traffic corridors, mainly the Rhône, Loire and Rhine valleys. Conversely, some regions have low population densities: mountain areas (Massif Central, Southern Alps, Corsica, Pyrenees), forest areas (e.g. Landes
authorities. Faced with a British bid put together by a coherent and unified territorial body, Paris had to negotiate with central government, the Ile de France region, the three départements within the region and some 300 affected communes (the smallest administrative subdivision).
Similar reasons led to the move of businessman François Pinault’s project for a contemporary art foundation, initially planned for the site of the former Renault factories in Boulogne-Billancourt but eventually installed in the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. This decision, taken in 2005 by the
; Salvati/Morelli 2014 ; Wolff/Wiechmann 2017 ; Hilal/Legras/Cavailhès 2018 for France).
As stated for the United States, Canada and Australia ( Davison 1995 ; Duany/Plater-Zyberk/Speck 2000 ; Gordon/Janzen 2013 ), many European countries also entered the 21 st century as ‘suburban nations’, in the sense that the majority of their populations had become suburban by the 1980s or 1990s. The continuous movement of people, businesses and workplaces from more to less dense, from central to remote locations, has considerably changed our view of the European City – in
/Taulelle 2002 ; DATAR 2003 ; Jouve/Lefèvre 2004 ; Geppert 2014 ).
The series of reforms started since 2010 aims to strengthen two levels intended to become central for spatial planning. The 22 regions have been merged into 13 “big regions” (see Figure 1 ). The new regions were instituted by a law adopted in January 2015. Loi no 2015-29 du 16 janvier 2015 relative à la délimitation des régions, aux élections régionales et départementales et modifiant le calendrier électoral. This law explains the intention, which is to “strengthen the regional scale by clarifying
between science and policy making, but also borders between the English and the French languages. For instance, the word “region” has different connotations in English and in French, where it is more specific and generally refers to the supra-local scale, as well in the domain of public policy and the academic world. See the definitions for "local" and "region", given by Levy/Lussault (2003 : 573, 777). This misunderstanding also exists in the area of cross border cooperation with regard to the notion of a Euro-region, which is viewed differently in Central Europe