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The location previously bore the names Aunay, Aunais, Anay, Aunoye, Aulnaye, Aulnay-la-Fosse, Aulnay-en-France (15th century), becoming Aulnay-lès-Bondy (i.e. "Aulnay by Bondy") in 1787. The municipality was then renamed Aulnay-sous-Bois (i.e. "Aulnay by the woods") in 1903, by reference to the ancient Bondy forest which covered most of the area to the northeast of Paris. Other nearby municipalities' names (Clichy-sous-Bois, Pavillons-sous-Bois, Rosny-sous-Bois) refer to the same forest.
According to INSEE (2004), the average household income is €15,000. Much of the upper-middle class lives in the south of the town. The canton of Aulnay-Sud has a very different character from the canton of Aulnay-Nord, owing to differences in education and wages. For example, the average income in the south of the town is around €20,000 - €25,000 (2004), much higher than the national average of €15,000 (2004). Furthermore, the north (Aulnay-Nord) has a high number of HLM (public housing). There is even a political divide, with Aulnay-Nord Canton sending a Socialist representative (Gerard Segura) to the Council-General for the Seine-Saint-Denis Department, but Aulnay-Sud a conservative (Jacques Chaussat).
¹This group is made up largely of former French settlers, such as pieds-noirs in Northwest Africa, followed by former colonial citizens who had French citizenship at birth (such as was often the case for the native elite in French colonies), and to a lesser extent foreign-born children of French expatriates. Note that a foreign country is understood as a country not part of France as of 1999, so a person born for example in 1950 in Algeria, when Algeria was an integral part of France, is nonetheless listed as a person born in a foreign country in French statistics.
²An immigrant is a person born in a foreign country not having French citizenship at birth. Note that an immigrant may have acquired French citizenship since moving to France, but is still considered an immigrant in French statistics. On the other hand, persons born in France with foreign citizenship (the children of immigrants) are not listed as immigrants.
In May 1973 it was reported that the first Citroën DS had emerged from the production line at Citroën's new plant at Aulnay. The plant has subsequently produced various Citroën and Peugeotmodels and has on occasion hit the headlines as a focus of industrial strife. On July 12, 2012, PSA Peugeot Citroën announced that it will permanently close the Aulnay-sous-Bois plant due to overcapacity.
Aulnay is also the site of the subterranean Citroën repository of Citroën archives and 370 Citroën cars produced over the years. The repository, established in 2002, is not open to the public, although members of Citroën enthusiasts' clubs and other important visitors are occasionally granted access to it.