Op-Ed

Back from Cahors

The Fabrique de la Cité organised the second edition of the Rencontres des villes moyennes (Medium-Sized Cities Meetingsin Cahors, from October 26 to 28. This edition brought together many participants from all over France: local elected officials, academics researchers, economic actors and professionals (housing, tourism, local commerce). The launch of the meetings by François Bayrou, Mayor of Pau and now High Commissioner for the Plan, placed municipal action at the heart of the conversations.

Access to digital technology and housing, the risks of mass tourism, environmental protection and the dynamism of the city center were among the topics explored during these meetings, with several lessons learned.

First, the importance of cooperation between public and private actors, but especially between territories. The lack of links between neighboring territories was too often deplored, at a time when the meetings showed how virtuous the exchange of good practices could be. Housing policies, control of the impact of the automobile, renovation of buildings… the list of complementary subjects between territories is long, and the successes of cooperation are just as numerous. Knowing each other, knowing how to deal with distinct territories and playing on interests and complementarities. Rollon Mouchel-Blaisot, Director of the national Action Cœur de Ville program, also mentioned the risks of urban sprawl and the major role of the quality of the built environment in the attractiveness of a community.

Then, the round tables strongly emphasized the position of the mayor, who plays a major role in regional planning. The tour de force of the round table with thirteen elected officials reminded us of the strong ties that a medium-sized city has with the neighboring metropolis, but also with the local population.

More broadly speaking, medium-sized French cities are also subject to increasing tourist flows, which have been revived by the need to remain in France in 2020. Therefore, reconciling the protection of historical and natural heritage with the attractiveness of tourism requires balancing the number of visitors over an entire territory, so as not to concentrate the influx of visitors in particular areas. Finally, it is crucial to emphasize the identity of a territory, its history and its heritage, to awaken a sense of belonging and a new awareness of the value of a space.

Finally, the medium-sized city must respond to important accessibility issues. The new practices of homeworking and mobility must not be to the detriment of less mobile populations or areas left behind. The medium-sized city can become a meeting place for the digital world and the physical world only if one leads the other. Logistics, e-commerce, training of the active population: a local anchoring must be privileged.

The commitment and keen interest expressed during these meetings has clearly shown that the “long time frame of medium-sized cities”, so often mentioned, is a useful scale that should not be neglected. Jean-Marc Vayssouze-Faure, mayor of Cahors, concluded the meetings by speaking on behalf of the mayors of medium-sized French cities and defending territorial rebalancing.

Discover the Medium-Sized Cities Meetings in video (in French)

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La Fabrique de la Cité

La Fabrique de la Cité is a think tank dedicated to urban foresight, created by the VINCI group, its sponsor, in 2010. La Fabrique de la Cité acts as a forum where urban stakeholders, whether French or international, collaborate to bring forth new ways of building and rebuilding cities.

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