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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Toulouse, in southwest France, is the European capital of the aerospace industry, with notably the headquarters of Airbus, but also many other key actors of the European aerospace industry such as Thales Alenia Space, Galileo, CNES's Toulouse Space Centre, and many more. Once one of the major cities in Europe (it was the fourth largest European city at the fall of the Roman Empire, and later the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom of Toulouse which extended from the Loire Valley in the north to the Strait of Gilbratar in the south), Toulouse fell into decline after the Renaissance and completely missed the Industrial Revolution, thus falling down the ranks of European cities. However, the fortunes of the city have been revived since the relocation of key aerospace industries there in the 20th century.

Due to its flourishing high-tech industrial base, as well as its southern climate and vibrant character, Toulouse is attracting lots of new residents (including many foreign engineers from northern European countries) and is thus one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Between the 1999 and 2006 censuses, the metropolitan area of Toulouse registered a population growth of nearly 2% a year, which is enormous for a European city. The metropolitan area of Toulouse (as defined in 1999) saw its population grow from 841,152 in 1990 to 1,102,882 in 2006. Population growth has remained high since 2006, and the city has not been affected by the world crisis so far (the aerospace industry usually lags 2-3 years behind the rest of the economy, and in previous downturns of the aerospace industry Toulouse nonetheless continued to grow steadily). The metro area is thus on its way to reach 1.5 million by 2025, perhaps even 2 million by mid-century, which would have Toulouse rank once again among the major cities in Europe.

As a consequence of this huge population growth, many suburbs have appeared around Toulouse in the past 40 years. Toulouse is one of the most "suburbanized" cities in Europe, so to speak. People there like to have their detached houses with garden and swimming pool, so the urbanization is now spreading more than 30 km from the center of Toulouse in all directions. It's quite different from the denser urbanization in northern Europe. Toulouse is also one of the European metropolitan areas with the most use of private cars, and the least use of public transportation (despite the opening of two subway lines in the past 15 years).

I've always found Toulouse fascinating because it's so different from the rest of France and indeed from the rest of Europe. I often find life there more American than European in many respects, but you be the judge. I took some aerial pictures of the suburbs of Toulouse with Bing Aerial Images. The pictures were taken all over the suburbs, north, south, east, west, with different levels of zooms, trying to show the varied aspects of the suburbs. Most of the areas shown in the pics are less than 20 years old, so what you'll see here are essentially the suburbs that have appeared since 1990.

So, European or American? Feel free to comment.



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3. This huge shopping mall, where I shopped once, is actually quite pleasant at ground level.


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5. The Roman atrium still lives on in the suburban villas of Toulouse (at one time the fourth-largest city in the Western Roman Empire).


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7. And the building boom continues... Got to accomodate 20,000 new people every year in the metro area.


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10. This one is actually officially the largest hypermarket in France, perhaps also in Europe, I don't know. I went there once, it's BIG.


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17. Airbus-land.


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19. A380, baby! :rock:


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>>The suburbs of Toulouse - European or American? <<

Among other things in the pictures I can see huge parking lots, a lot of concrete, nice houses w/swimming pools. These 3 characteristics make the suburbs of Toulouse resemble American counterparts (at least stereotypically :D).
 

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10. This one is actually officially the largest hypermarket in France, perhaps also in Europe, I don't know. I went there once, it's BIG.
How big is it in m2?
 

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Actually the houses are made of hollow insulating bricks (not concrete) covered with plaster.
I didn't say the houses were made of concrete. I was thinking of concrete covering the ground (parking lots, sidewalks, streets...) as oppose to grass, trees, etc.
 

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Thanks Brisavoine for theses questions : European or American.

Urban explosion was born in 60's / 70's around Toulouse. The time we start to use cars for everything (work, shop, hobbies). 28km Underground (subway) is just built in the city-center (so expensive to go into far suburbs with justs houses). Just the historical city-center is "european", you can find here :http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=841944
All suburbs are with "american urbanization"!
Toulouse's Urban area : 841 000 in 1990, 965 000 inhabitants en 1999, 1 103 000 in 2006, est. 1 165 000 in 2009.
Toulouse city center : 390 000 in 1999, 438 000 in 2006, est. 460 000 today.
So suburbs, 482 000 in 1990, 575 000 in 1999, 665 000 in 2006 and est. 705 000 today.

Other examples of suburbs around Toulouse :
Balma


Blagnac


Colomiers


Labège Innopole


Seilh


St Orens


L'Union
 

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What is even more interesting is how it differes from the inner city.
Inner Toulouse has some of densest district of France outside Paris.
It is very southwestern european city center.

Anyway this type of sprawl is not only a Toulouse problem, infact France is one of sprawlest and most car dependant country in Europe.
This is not for any reason that the first big hypermarket in Europe were created in France.
It is really weird to see the real difference with someone living in Paris (inner city and inner suburbs) or in the inner city of french cities well served by transportation and the rest of the population.

I know it I lived most of my life outside Paris in a little city of Central France, without cars you can almost do nothing (OK I could buy baguette, go the Arab grocer as we call it, or in a Pahrmacy without walking so much).
If you want to do some shopping you take your car to go in the city center (there is always big park lot, often underground) and you go in suburban retail area.

UK or Germany can bee seen as suburban but suburbs in these countries grew with the train.
In France and the United States, the suburbs grew with the car. Outside Paris you don't have any real suburban train system.
 

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Yes but Toulouse (and Montpellier) are the alone french cities wich suburbs born with cars' usings in 60's and 70's.
For others cities, first suburbs around city-center were born before 60's and 70's.
The same "american" urbanisation was for far suburbs for these cities, but for first and far suburbs for Toulouse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Anyway this type of sprawl is not only a Toulouse problem, infact France is one of sprawlest and most car dependant country in Europe.
Yes, but Toulouse is the metropolitan area where people use the most their cars in France.

Here is the percentage of people in each metropolitan area who use only their car to go to work (note that people who combine their car and public transportation are not included). The figures come from the 1999 census:
- Paris metropolitan area: 43.1% of people use only their car to go to work
- Strasbourg metropolitan area: 65.4%
- Lyon metropolitan area: 66.7%
- Nice metropolitan area: 66.8%
- Marseille metropolitan area: 68.1%
- Lille metropolitan area: 70.1%
- Nantes metropolitan area: 71.8%
- Montpellier metropolitan area: 73.5%
- Bordeaux metropolitan area: 74.1%
- Toulouse metropolitan area: 74.7%
 

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Yes, but Toulouse is the metropolitan area where people use the most their cars in France.
I never said he oposite but these data show what I mean, only Paris is under 50% while all the other big metropolitan area are over 65%.
There is a higher gap between Paris and Strasbourg than between Strasbourg and Toulouse.

Anyway I see that in some cities, the use of the car is suprisely high.
Lille is one of few cities where many suburbs grew before the WWII as it was a very industrial region. It is also the densest metropolitan area in France .
There is many track in the whole area but it show that few are really used as suburban train.
I am also suprised by Nantes, this city is know to be well served by light rail (even in 1999).

On the oposite I thought that Nice was more car dependent, in 1999 it was the only a city around the million with Bordeaux without a urban rail system.
Anyway as I know there is quite many regional train station with frequent service.

These data are from 1999 the use of car in many urban area declined since, due at the increase and improving of public transportation system (I could also add the increase of the gas price :D ).
 

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If you didn't say it was Toulouse and if i didn't saw the Carrefour i thought is was a suburb in the USA.
I think the same!
I live in a suburb of Toulouse, and by the ground, the impression is not the same.
With aerian view you can feel and think "it seems to be an american suburb" not an european suburb.

Now there is a local political reflexion to think a different urban develpment with more density and with high construction in Toulouse inner and in first suburbs to!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Anyway I see that in some cities, the use of the car is suprisely high.
Lille is one of few cities where many suburbs grew before the WWII as it was a very industrial region. It is also the densest metropolitan area in France .
There is many track in the whole area but it show that few are really used as suburban train.
I am also suprised by Nantes, this city is know to be well served by light rail (even in 1999).

On the oposite I thought that Nice was more car dependent, in 1999 it was the only a city around the million with Bordeaux without a urban rail system.
Anyway as I know there is quite many regional train station with frequent service.
Interpretation of data can be tricky though. For example in Nice fewer people user only their car to go to work, but this not really because they use more public transportation than in Toulouse, this is essentially because more people go to work by walking only (9.6% of people in the Nice metropolitan area go to work by walking only vs. 5.2% in the Toulouse metropolitan area). Now don't ask me why people in Nice walk so much, I have no clue!
These data are from 1999 the use of car in many urban area declined since, due at the increase and improving of public transportation system (I could also add the increase of the gas price :D ).
I don't think it declined in Toulouse though. Suburbanization around Toulouse has increased a lot since 1999, so car use should have increased too despite the opening of the 2nd subway line.
 

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From these pics it's as though France is just endless expanse of suburbia, shopping centers, and tract houses. I must be in a place with much more character and charm, such as Houston or Las Vegas. :)
 

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One thing that I found very interesting is that many houses are not directly facing the street, hence in like a diagonal position, to me it looks pretty cool giving the city it's own "unique" kinda look ;)
 
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