Has the situation in France’s suburbs improved?

As volatility drew attention to French suburbs in the last decade, this article asks whether life there is now improved.

President Francois Hollande paid a rare visit to one of the infamous “banlieues” this week — Courneuve, north of Paris — where he vowed that under the egalitarian principles of the French Republic, “no areas are left behind.”…

“This could explode once again, because the social injustices are still there and there is a deep hopelessness among the young,” warned Mehdi Bigaderne, the 32-year-old deputy mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois, the Paris suburb where the 2005 riots began and then spread to other parts of the country…

But many see the changes as cosmetic. It can still take an hour and 40 minutes to reach Paris even though the capital lies just 15 kilometres (nine miles) away…

One official report found unemployment was 23 percent in the suburbs, compared to nine percent countrywide, in 2013. Among people aged 15 to 24, the figure rose to 42 percent.

Experts say the problems of the “banlieues” have deep roots, one of which is urban planning.

In other words, solutions to this require extended work rather than quick platitudes or actions that don’t address the deeper issues. But, are citizens in these metropolitan areas truly interested in promoting the welfare of all? How serious are different levels of government about addressing the issues? Is promoting better urban planning enough of a solution? This will be worth watching for quite a while to see if conditions improve.

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