Villes Nouvelles et une Nouvelle Ville: Exemples d'aménagement du Territoire en France, 1965-2012

Open Access
Tuttle, Dylan Frysinger
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in French and Francophone Studies and History
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Monique Yvonne Yaari, Thesis Supervisor
  • Catherine Wanner, Honors Advisor
  • Vera Mark, Honors Advisor
  • French
  • History
  • City Planning
  • Montpellier
  • Architecture
  • New Towns
  • Villes Nouvelles
  • France
My thesis explores the evolution of French city planning theories and techniques during the latter half of the 20th century, specifically with regards to building new communities where none existed before. I do this by comparing the “villes nouvelles” (new towns) movement, which began in the mid-1960s and included 9 planned towns around the country, with the urban extension to the southern French city of Montpellier, a project that began in the 1970s and continues to this day. I ask what continuities can be seen, as well as what has changed in the approach of planners. I also examine the results to see what has worked and what has not, asking whether the mistakes of earlier projects, both in the villes nouvelles and in Montpellier itself, have been properly addressed. Finally, I address the concept of ville nouvelle, asking if there is really any difference between what one sees in those towns as opposed to one like Montpellier. The written work is organized into three parts. The first section covers the broader history of thought among French planners, designers and architects during the period (roughly postwar to the present), tracing it from modernism through the turbulence of 1968 and transitions of the 1970s, to postmodernism and on to contemporary thinking, closing by asking if there is a coherent pattern to French planning over the last ten to twenty years. The second section covers the new towns movement globally and in France specifically, giving three examples from France and attempting to define a ville nouvelle. The final section, which contains most of the original research, examines Montpellier and its recent development, focusing on the southwestern extension of the city. The comparison of these two types of projects—ville nouvelle per se and an extension of ville nouvelle proportions—brings to light both the path of planning thought among French thinkers and the pressures that have led French governing bodies to make the decisions that they have. I close by offering my own insights into these paths and pressures.