Workshop 1 : The Contribution of Immigrants to the Diversification of Services: Ethnic Businesses in the New Towns
Speaker: Vasoden Vuddamalay (researcher in geography, member of the SLAM research lab, University of Evry - University of Paris Saclay)

The influence of the mercantile activities of such Parisian immigrant neighborhoods as Little Africa (stretching from Château Rouge down to Château d’Eau), Little India (at La Chapelle), Chinatown (in the 13th district), and Médina (in the Goutte d’Or) on the regional socio-spatial installation and integration of their residents has been amply studied. However, the relations between the geography of the Greater Paris new towns and immigrant trading activities have been less so (Ba 2016). Yet, urgent research is required in the context of the ongoing territorial and administrative reorganization of these communes, as in the examples of the Agglomeration Community and the fusion of Evry with the adjacent town of Courcouronnes.
The pioneering debates on ethnic trade carried out by the Migrinter (international migrations) laboratory of the University of Poitiers in 1980 need to be developed from a political angle. Are the lobbys (power-brokers or minority middlemen) which represent these immigrant merchants, and which constitute an emerging social group, powerful enough to affect local policy in these new towns?

Questions for debate
 How should we analyze the evolution of immigrant trading in the new towns (for example, the presence of Turkish and Kurdish merchants in Evry)?
 Are the new towns faced with trade competition between the different immigrant groups (for example, in Evry, between Turkish and Kurdish merchants and Chinese, Indo-Pakastani, African-West Indian and merchants from the Sahel or North Africa)?
 How are the decisions made when it comes to the choice of activities in the new towns and their urban spaces (for example, Place Jules Vallès in Evry)?
 Do the various activities affect the symbolic links between religion, food and clothing-esthetics?
 How might religious structures act as a theater for trade competition between the groups involved (for example, the Evry-Courcouronnes mosque)?
 How do the public powers react to the sometimes-conflictual coexistence of the various immigrant communities?

Registration to Workshop 1

Workshop 2 : The Role of Migrants in Local and Associative Life
Speaker: Didier Desponds, researcher in geography, member of the MRTE research lab, University of Cergy-Pontoise

From the start, the new towns have represented particularly dynamic areas for associations and cultural life, the inhabitants sometimes referred to as "pioneers" during the 1970s. This inventiveness also involved the descendants of immigrants residing there. These associations could choose to work toward integration "in the host territory," or to consolidate relations between the "host and home territories."
Migrant associations do generally work toward the integration of a population which is often isolated due to a lack of knowledge about the host country. To do so, these associations carry out actions such as language courses, professional guidance and training, social assistance, and citizenship paperwork, all of which favor access to basic rights and autonomy.
Migrant associations are also very effective when it comes to setting up networks for exchanges between the communes of the new towns, or the inter-municipalities, on the one hand, and the cities and villages of North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia on the other. The ties that develop may be traditional ones (sending school supplies, student exchanges), but they may also give rise to more innovative initiatives (cultural mediation, economic projects) which may be seen as accelerating change in the relations between the territories and as ways to connect the populations concerned.
New towns should be considered as "test territories" for questions of citizenship and cultural policy, and for the challenges of solidarity, just as they once were for questions of inter-municipality.

Questions for debate
 The factors behind the launching of associative actions: what are the respective roles of the descendants of immigrants and of local political actors?
 How do the missions behind these associative actions change over time, on the cultural, economic, and other levels?
 Does the rapid development of associations linked to immigration constitute a response to the lack of access to civic rights for immigrants and foreigners?
 What are the particularities - in terms of what is undertaken and the duration - of new town initiatives?
 What are the effects of these initiatives, both on the initiator and on the target of the action?

Registration to Workshop 2

Workshop 3 : Cultural and Religious Diversity: Emerging Hybrid Cultures in Cities of Immigration
Speaker: Abdoul Hameth BA (researcher in geography, member of the IDHES research lab, University of Evry - University of Paris Saclay)

The concept of cultural citizenship was popularized following the recognition (by UNESCO) that humanity is comprised of a variety of cultures. Each one deserves universal respect. In reality, the rights associated with citizenship (the right to vote, to be eligible for office, etc.) vary according to the period and to the country. The concept of citizenship has evolved from a legal notion to a social and cultural one. The importance of immigration in the world has evolved over time and has become long-lasting or permanent. But becoming rooted in a territory does not imply a severing of ties with the country of origin. "Diasporic" communities continue to show their attachment to their culture of origin in various forms. Migration makes the migrant see his/her country, culture and identity in a new way. Although the construction of a primary cultural identity remains attached to the place of departure, the migrant is permeable to the spaces he/she travels through, and is welcomed to, and which offer other ways of acting, thinking and representing oneself. This workshop will grapple with several questions, on the basis of concrete examples of immigrants and their descendants living in European new towns.

Questions for debate
 Is contemporary immigration a factor of cultural reconstruction or of the construction of hybrid cultures?
 What filters or halts the transmission of cultures of immigration?
 How can the prism of migration help us to understand the link between trans-culturality and cultural territoriality?

Registration to Workshop 3

Jacques LONGUET is currently serving as Deputy Mayor of the city of Evry. As head of education, the family and patrimony, he succeeded in obtaining the "Remarkable Contemporary Architechture" label for the city.

For thirty-eight years, Mr. Longuet taught history and geography at Le Village secondary school. He also taught at the Parc des Loges high school, at the teacher- training institute of Etiolles and at the university of Evry until 2013. He is extremely interested in both the history of the territory and the New Town experiment. In his capacity as Community Councilor for Grand Paris Sud, he works to develop the visibility of the heritage of the urban agglomeration’s 24 communes. He has also been responsible for culture for the city of Evry and for the Syndicat d’agglomération nouvelle (New Agglomeration Association) from 1995 to 2001, and again, from 2008 to 2014 as head of Culture for Evry and of cultural installations and resources for the Agglomération d’Evry Centre Essonne.

Mariette SAGOT is a demographer at the Institut d’aménagement et d’urbanisme d’Ile-de-France. She studies regional and territorial social and demographic issues, including aging, inequality, poverty, immigration, double residency, etc. She has worked with Insee (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques) to create several maps of the inhabitants of Greater Paris.

Laura KOSSI directs the Essonne City Policy Resource Center (Centre de Ressources Politique de la Ville en Essonne, or CRPVE).

The CRPVE is a place where those involved in city policy can come together to reflect and discuss. The center concentrates on questions related to education, to urban renewal, health, migration, and so on. Each year, the center proposes activities to develop skills and to encourage networking and the sharing of experiences to those who carry out actions in neighborhoods and with the town’s residents.

François DELOUVRIER has been associated with the city of Evry since 1973. He participated in the creation of the residential districts at EPEVRY, builder of new towns, for 20 years. He was in charge of urban planning, housing and city policy for the city of Evry for 10 years. After a few years at AUDESO, the urban development agency of the greater Evry area, he ended his career in 2015 at the Communauté d’Agglomération Evry Centre Essonne. Currently retired, he is involved in various local associations and is a member of the Evry Village neighborhood council.

André DARMAGNAC has a PhD in geography. His dissertation focused specifically on the Corbeil-Essonnes conurbation. From 1967 to 1978, he worked for EPEVRY, builder of new towns, managing the use of educational, sports and cultural installations. He then headed the Center for Education, Training and Cultural Activities (the FIAP EVRY, or Foyer International d’Accueil et de Promotion Sociale) from 1978 to 1989. He ended his career at the Syndicat d’agglomération nouvelle, then at the Communauté d’Agglomération Evry Centre Essonne, from 1989 to 2001.

Marie SOBIROU completed her degree in architecture (DPLG, a national degree) in 2005 and then worked for several agencies on projects concerning housing, public works (a water park, a secondary school, a conservatory for music and dramatic arts, etc.), commercial and health installations. In 2012, she completed a Master’s degree in urban planning and transportation at the Institut Français d’Urbanisme and then joined the world of contracting. Since 2012, she has been in charge of the writing and of coordination the various partners of the Territorial Development Contract (Contrat de Développement Territorial, or CDT) for Grand Paris at Aulnay-sous-Bois. Between 2014 and 2015, she was in charge of operations and was the reference architect for the town of Colombes. She then worked for the Evry-Centre-Essonne agglomération Direction d’Aménagement where she participated in an urban study of the Pyramides and Bois Sauvage neighborhoods of Evry in order to complete the Urban Renewal Program and to launch the New Urban Renewal Program.

François TIROT is deputy director of the Sénart Etablissement public d’Aménagement (EPA-Sénart). EPA- Sénart is a public agency focusing on industry and business. It is responsible for developing the new town in accordance with legislation.

Virginie LACOUR, in charge of the conservation of Patrimony, heads the Patrimony-Tourism service of the Grand Paris Sud Agglomeration. Formerly director of the Coulevrain Eco-museum and farm located at Savigny-le-Temple, she focused on 40 years of human urban history in Senart, from its construction to today, in the context of the exhibition entitled « récits de vies, récit de ville » ("life stories, town stories")(2013).

Fidèle DJIVO is president of the Citizen Council of the town policy neighborhood of downtown Savigny-le-Temple. The Citizen Council, created May 19, 2015, works to encourage the development and visibility of the residents of this prioritized neighborhood. It participates in the conception, application and evaluation of the city contract, and is involved in all phases of its organization and management.

Vasoodeven VUDDAMALAY has primarily published on the inscription of migration in geographical space. He defended his PhD in 1993 at the EHESS (Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales) and his HDR (in order to supervise doctoral students), Des enclaves urbaines aux espaces transnationaux: Pour une géographie des espaces de l’immigration in 2014 at the University of Paris- Nanterre. He has taught at the University Evry since 1999 and has coordinated publications with researchers at the International Research Center of the Institute of Political Science (Sciences-Po), and at the CEIAS (Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud) of the EHESS and the Universities of Oxford – Sydney.

He has organized and directed seminars at the University of Evry: L’impact des diasporas sur l’économie-monde (9 April 2015) and Migrations, villes globales et justice spatiale, (Symposium Arts, langues et interculturalité : Alternatives au paradoxe de la globalisation (27 and 28 March 2012.) He is the author of Les diasporas originaires du sous-continent indien en France, which was a chapter of Migrations et mutations de la société française. L’Etat des savoirs directed by Marie Poinsot and Serge Weber (Paris, La découverte, 2014, p. 130-138)

Didier DESPONDS is full Professor of Geography at the University of Cergy- Pontoise, where he has headed the MRTE (Mobilities – Networks – Territories – Environment) Laboratory since 2013. His research concerns household residential strategies, the social impact of urban policy - especially in the context of urban renewal - and tensions involving housing and the application of "intelligent territories." He is also reponsible for several research programs focusing on residential mobility around airports, the evaluation of the French Vexin Regional Natural Park, and the place and role of ethnic minorities in European cities. He directs the publication of Devenirs urbains with Editions Manuscrit. Among his most recent publications: « Territoires intelligents » : un modèle si smart ? Coll. Villes et territoires (Editions de l’Aube, La Tour-d’Aigues, 2018), La ville conflictuelle. Oppositions – Tensions – Négociations, Coll. Devenirs urbains (les éditions du Manuscrit, Paris, 2016), Les habitants : acteurs de la rénovation urbaine ?, Coll. Géographie sociale (Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2014)

Abdoul Hameth BA holds a PhD in geography from the University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne and is Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Evry- University of Paris-Saclay. He also holds an HDR and directs research in the human and social sciences. His research focuses on international migration, decentralized cooperation, sustainable development and questions of interculturality.

Abdoul Hameth BA has published, alone or in collaboration with other researchers, the following works: Acteurs et territoires du Sahel (ENS éditions, Lyon, 2007), Dimension culturelle du développement : Dynamiques de valorisation ou de dévalorisation des territoires urbains (L’Harmattan, 2010), Le vieillissement dans l’immigration : l’oubli d’une génération silencieuse
(L’Harmattan, 2006), Femmes africaines immigrées responsables d’association face aux enjeux de citoyenneté et de développement: entre mimétisme et innovation : le cas des régions Ile de France et Nord-Pas de Calais, (revue Espaces -Populations-Sociétés Lille , n°2014/2-3,16p.)

Day 1 - October 17

(Open to EU project partners only)

9.00 - 11.00 Arrival of the European delegations at the Residhome Hotel

11.10 Ice Breaking
With representatives of the various delegations and participants
Situated at Residhome Hotel

11.55 Departure
For the Hôtel d’Agglomération de Grand Paris Sud (Courcouronnes site)

12.05 Exhibition: ‘Histoires d’exil’ (Stories of Exile)
 Film on Grand Paris Sud
 Welcome and official opening of City Lab by Francis CHOUAT,
 President of the Communauté d’Agglomération Grand Paris Sud,
Mayor of the city of Evry
Situated at Hôtel d’Agglomération de Grand Paris Sud (in the ‘salle des assemblées’)

12.25 Departure
For Hotel Résidhome

12.35 Lunch break
Situated at Restaurant French Corner (by Residhome)

13.50 Departure
For the Iannis-Xenakis Departmental Music Conservatory

14.00 Exhibition: ‘Charte de laïcité’ (The Secular Charter)
Situated at Iannis Xenakis Departmental Music Conservatory

14.05 Presentation
’The history of the new town and its urban development’ presented by Jacques LONGUET (Deputy Mayor of Evry in charge of education, the family, patrimony and the city’s past)

14.25 Discussion

14.55 Presentation
’The evolution of new towns, particularly Evry, since 1975 and in the regional context’ presented by Mariette SAGOT (sociologist and urbanist, expert on town policy at the Ile de France region Institute of city planning and development)

15.15 Discussion

15.45 Presentation
’Focus on the question of secularism’ presented by Laura KOSSI (Director of the Centre de Ressources Politique de la Ville en Essonne (Essonnian Town Policy Resource Center)

15:55 Departure
For Evry Cathedral

16.05 Tour of the Cathedral
With Jacques LONGUET

16.50 Departure
For the Pyramides District

The Pyramides District
 17.20 Tour of the neighborhood and presentation of the local context with François DELOUVRIER, urbanist, and André DARMAGNAC, urbanist and geographer.
 18.20 Meeting with representatives of associations at Maison des Sports des Pyramides (Pyramides District Sports Association)
 20.00 Dinner prepared by the local Cultural Association Apese Haiti

Day 2 - October 18

Between 07.00 and 8.30 breakfast at the hotel

08.45 Departure
By bus for the New Town of Senart
 View of the Synagogue
 Stop at the Pagoda and film presenting the building

09.30 Exhibition: ‘Mon arrivée en France’ (My Arrival in France)
Situated at Hôtel d’Agglomération de Grand Paris Sud (Lieusaint site)

09.35 Presentation
’The local historical context of the New Town’ presented by François TIROT (Assistant Head of the Senart EPA (Etablissement Public d’Aménagement)(State Office of Urban Plannnng)

10.00 Discussion

10.30 Bus tour of the New Town of Senart
With Virginie LACOUR (Head of the Patrimony and Tourism Service of Grand Paris Sud)

11.30 Meeting with local activists of Savigny le Temple
With Fidèle DJIVO (President of the Conseil citoyen du centre-ville (City Center Citizen Council), and the student ‘cultural ambassadors’ of Louis-Armand Secondary School

12.30 Departure
For the Hôtel d’Agglomération de Grand Paris Sud (Lieusaint site)

12.40 Lunch break
Situated at Hôtel d’Agglomération de Grand Paris Sud

14.00 Departure
By bus to the University of Evry Val d’Essonne

14.30 University of Evry Val d’Essonne
 14.35 Welcome speech Patrick CURMI, Chancellor of the University of Evry Val d’Essonne
 14.50 Thematic Workshops
 16.00 Coffee break
 16.15 Workshop results and discussion

17.30 Departure
For the Courcouronnes Mosque

17.45 Tour of the Mosque

18.30 Departure
By bus for L’Empreinte, contemporary music concert hall in Savigny le Temple

18.55 L’Empreinte
 19.00 Feedback and conclusions on City Lab and dinner prepared by local associations
 20.30 Steering Committee with introduction to the next Lab conference (Sweden)
 21.00 Concert

23.00 Return by bus to the hotel


[1] Hotel Residhome next to Evry station: 1 Rue Ambroise Croizat, 91000 Évry, France

[2] Hôtel d’Agglomération de Grand Paris Sud: 500 Place des Champs Elysées, 91080 Courcouronnes, France

[3] Hôtel d’Agglomération de Grand Paris Sud: 9 Allée de la Citoyenneté, 77127 Lieusaint, France

[4] University of Evry Val d’Essonne: 23 Boulevard François Mitterrand, 91000 Évry, France

[5] Station Evry Courcouronnes

How to get there

By Air
Grand Paris Sud is served by a number of airports. Orly Airport is just a 30 minute drive away from the Residhome Hotel, whilst Charles de Gaulle Airport is around one hour away.

By Train
Access to Grand Paris Sud by train is very easy. There is a main rail station in Paris where several international trains arrive, called Gare du Nord. From this train station there is a direct train link that will take you to a smaller train station called Evry Courcouronnes in about 45 minutes. From this station, it’s only a 5 minute walk to the Residhome Hotel.

For more information on train times visit:

The present report is a documentation of the insights related to New Towns and migration from the two-day New Town Lab in the agglomeration of Grand Paris Sud and it should be read within that context. The lab was the third of five events as part of the International New Town Institute’s two-year project “New Towns Arrival Cities”. The first event was held in Milton Keynes in November 2017, the second in Sabaudia in May 2018. The European New Towns were built with a strong top-down planning approach. Today, they all face similar challenges as they struggle to adapt to rapidly growing and diversifying populations.

You can download the report here.

Visiting the Cathedral of Evry

Tour through Les Pyramides district in Evry

Les Pyramides district

The green avenues of the Carré Sénart

The green avenues of the Carré Sénart

The endless parkinglots of the Carré Sénart

Meeting with local activists of Savigny le Temple: Fidèle DJIVO (President of the Conseil citoyen du centre-ville (City Center Citizen Council), and the student ‘cultural ambassadors’ of Louis-Armand Secondary School

The thematic workshops on the University of Evry Val d’Essonne

Tour through the Courcouronnes Mosque

The citizen at the centre of the contemporary urban question

Evry no longer sees itself as a New Town and, with Senart, is reinventing its identity starting from the recognition of a multi-cultural dimension which has been part of the recent history of the New Town. The creation of a new narrative that embraces this multi-cultural diversity represents a challenge – shared by all the other New Towns explored throughout the implementation of this European programme - and requires first and foremost the understanding and value of the role that migrants can play in the contemporary city. The appreciation of their contribution whether it comes through culture and religious forms, associative aggregations or through community commerce and ethnic businesses, is a first milestone. Mostly in contexts where the acquisition of civil rights is often submitted to national legislation and procedures of naturalization which are very complex.
As emphasized in the previous New Towns labs of Milton Keynes and Sabaudia, the pioneering spirit of the New Towns can function as a favourable condition for innovative practices to stand out.

The recognisition that the institutional cultural agenda inadequately represents the society cultural hybridization is a point of departure. Like in Milton Keynes, the young generation takes the lead and the experimental project of the Cultural Ambassadors aims to create a new cultural dimension in GPS while setting the conditions for a permanent cooperation between the educational systems, the schools, the cultural players and the public actors.

Building acceptance and understanding of the city’s migrant communities has to do with establishing a new cultural paradigm capable of reproducing its culturally diverse reality. Prevented from political rights and in the absence of a clear policy framework, migrants take the initiative and mobilize their community around the creation of ethnic shops and cultural and religious centres (often around the station area and in the most deprived neighbourhoods). All this comes with physical modifications of the urban landscape, provoking frictions and/or contributing to isolate the group from the rest of the population.

This not only happens in GPS, but for instance also in Sabaudia (Italy), where the Sikh community from Punjab (India), mostly employed in the agricultural sector, is settled in one of the Sabaudia’s satellite secondary towns located along the coast and where ethnic shops have opened in the neighbourhood only to serve the migrant population. But things can be turned around and GPS could also look at Aarhus (Denmark) where the municipality is committed to transform Gellerup, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country – where unemployment rates raise to 50% and 83 different nationalities coexist – into an attractive district. The initial push, guided by the local government, came from a developer who decided to create a Bazar – a commercial space for ethnic goods and products which is revitalizing the neighbourhood, creating local jobs opportunities and playing as a reference place for the immigrant population of the district and bringing flows of customers the entire region.

New Towns are the products of their time and changing social and economic circumstances require adapting to the new circumstances.
Today GPS recognizes the importance of partnering with associations in designing long-term democratic participation and new citizenship paths which can allow migrants to be active players in the socio-economic life of the agglomeration.
The combination of top-down tools (such as citizens’ councils and ad hoc educational programmes in schools) and bottom-up approaches (the actions of migrants’ associations) could be the prerequisite for establishing a renewed government-citizen relation.

Within the framework of the “politique de la ville” national programme, GPS is placing the citizen at the centre of the contemporary urban question. The path undertaken inquires the current citizenship rights and proposes a reflection on the tools and the measures that can be adopted to include migrant populations in the process of redefinition of the contemporary identity of GPS.