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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A city rarely seen on SSC. Nouméa is the capital of New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific. Nouméa is located 1,370 km (850 miles) from the eastern shore of Australia, 1,480 km (920 miles) from the northern shore of New Zealand, and 16,720 km (10,390 miles) from Paris (for comparison, Honolulu lies 7,775 km from Washington DC, and Vladivostok lies 6,425 km from Moscow). Yet for its very distant location, Nouméa keeps a distinctly French character, complete with Bastille Day parades and bakeries selling fresh croissants.

Nouméa enjoys one of the most beautiful locations in the world, a jagged urban peninsula with lots of coves and beaches entirely surrounded by an emerald blue lagoon, and tall mountains as a backdrop. If New Caledonia had developed earlier and Nouméa had several million inhabitants, it would probably be known worldwide today as one of the most beautiful metropolises in the world on par with San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro.

Nouméa is not anywhere as large as these two cities, but it is growing fast. The Greater Nouméa metropolitan area currently has 160,000 inhabitants, up from 97,500 at the 1989 census. Population growth is fuelled by immigration of Melanesian Kanaks (the original inhabitants of New Caledonia) from the rural areas of New Caledonia who come to the "big city" for work opportunities, and White people from Metropolitan France attracted by New Caledonia's quality of life, climate, and booming economy (New Caledonia sits on the world's third largest reserves of nickel).

At the last census which asked ethnicity questions (the 1996 census), 45.7% of the people in the Greater Nouméa metropolitan area were White people, 21.6% were Melanesian Kanaks, 17.8% were Polynesian immigrants who have arrived in the past 40 years, and more than 6% were Eastern Asian immigrants. The White people, the Melanesian Kanaks, and the Polynesian immigrants (who come from other French overseas territories in the Pacific) are all French citizens and enjoy the same rights as people in Metropolitan France.

As a consequence of this big population growth, the suburbs of Nouméa have expanded a lot in the past 40 years, and the once sleepy town has now become a large city experiencing the same problems as other first world cities (traffic congestion, stress, rising housing prices, urban deprivation, anti-social behavior, and even a few cases of urban violence), but of course on a much smaller scale than larger metropolises such as Sydney or Paris (traffic jam in Nouméa means being stuck in traffic for 15 minutes, lucky people! lol).

Here I'm posting pictures of the suburbs of Nouméa that I have collected over the years from various sources (flickr, panoramio). Only the suburbs are shown, i.e. anything outside of downtown Nouméa. I'll add more pictures over time. Feel free to add pictures too (but no pictures of the downtown area, which is the one most often seen on the internet).



3. The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Melanesian Kanak cultural center, designed by Renzo Piano, is a symbol of the reconciliation between the different ethnic communities of New Caledonia:








11. Roquefort cheese anyone? :D






17. Motorways/freeways have been built in the past two decades to cope with the increasing traffic, but they stop at the entrance of the Nouméa urban peninsula, which is where most traffic jams occur:



5,502 Posts
Thanks for sharing...., indeed the cultural center is amazing and fits perfectly with the local culture and environment......

Very interesting Noumea...


17,997 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
On week-ends people like to take their boats and go into the magnificent lagoon surrounding Nouméa on all sides. Boat ownership in Nouméa is much higher than in European or North American cities.


21. You can see Nouméa in the distance to the left of the picture:






17,997 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So let's continue our little tour in the suburbs of Nouméa ("suburbs" is perhaps not the most appropriate word, given that some of these areas are quite close to the downtown area).

27. The local "Twin Peaks". Nouméa definitely has an air of San Francisco, just with 10 times less urbanization.

28. Someone is apparently longing for the old village lifestyle in Kanak huts ("cases canaques" in French). Is that a White person in quest of exotism, or a Melanesian Kanak exiled in the big city? Many Kanaks are known to try and reproduce their village lifestyle when they move to Nouméa, but here I would tend to think it is just a White person playing Robinson Crusoe.

29. The French 'dos d'âne' (speed bumps) have also invaded the streets of the South Pacific. :doh:

30. Some colonial houses have survived from the old sleepy days. When WW2 started, Nouméa had only 20,000 inhabitants.




34. Few people use public transportation in Nouméa. It is essentially a car society (hence the growing traffic jams, now that Greater Nouméa has 160,000 inhabitants, and soon 200,000-250,000). The public buses are notoriously often "en grève" ("on strike", so no bus service), an unfortunate aspect of French life that has been imported in the South Pacific. There are talks of creating a light-rail (tramway) network, but so far it is still on the drawing board.


36. Light clothes. :D



39. The mangrove in the northeastern suburbs of Nouméa. A few buildings can be seen emerging here and there. There is huge urban pressure in that area, opposed by environmentalists who fight to preserve the mangrove.


41. Further south closer to the city center, the mangrove has been fully urbanized and has almost completely disappeared:


43. "Le" Surf. :D

44. "Le" Roof. This pier is located in the chich beach districts at the southern tip of the Nouméa urban peninsula:

45. A hotel in the chic beach districts:

46. The urban park of Ouen Toro, on the eastern side of the Nouméa peninsula:

47. Suburban lifestyle. Not your overcrowded metropolis yet.

48. 10,000 Pacific Francs (=84 euros; 120 US dollars)

49. Saturday market in the neighborhood:

50. Selling clothes too (I believe these are called "paréos" in French):

51. This is typically what I was saying about the Melanesian Kanaks bringing their village lifestyle into the city. It certainly makes for an interesting use of the city.

52. "Walk slowly" says the sign. And yes, another bad French habit imported in the South Pacific, the stupid little poodle on leash! :doh:

53. Two cultures facing each other: Whites and Kanaks. Can it work in the long term? Successfully mixing both cultures is New Caledonia's greatest challenge in the coming decades (the economy and job market is no worry thanks to New Caledonia's huge nickel reserves).

More pictures to come in the next days.

1,448 Posts
New Caledonia...
looks interesting. very good photos.:)

17,553 Posts
Of course we can move here without visa, New Caledonia is part of the french republic, even it has a move independant status than overseas departement.
The oposite is also true, people living here are French citizen as a people living in Paris.

Now is the inhabitant are wealthy ? it depend as any other place.
Kanak are underrepresented in the economic upper class and the white are overrepresented.
You imagine the oposite while the white are surely underrepresented in the lower economic level, Kanak are overrepresented.
Unfortunely it is the same as in many place. :(

The majority of the population in all group is middle class.

17,997 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I've just checked, on Air Austral the cheapest Paris-Nouméa ticket at the moment costs 1,070.29 euros round trip all taxes included, but it takes 27 to 30 hours to get to Nouméa, and it's a special promotion expiring in October, for the launch of the new line. After that the cheapest non promotional tickets will cost 1,378.66 euros all taxes included. On Air France the cheapest Paris-Nouméa round trip ticket costs 1,360.22 euros all taxes included, and it takes "only" 23 to 25 hours to get there because it's a shorter route, with only one stopover in either Japan or Korea.
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