Metropolitan Area (France)
The aire urbaine (French for "urban area") is a statistical region created by the INSEE (National statistics bureau of France) that comprises a commuter belt (couronne périurbaine) surrounding a contiguous urban core (pôle urbain). As defined, it is similar (though not identical) to the more general term, "metropolitan area", used in English.
The aire urbaine is a demographic unit that is based on France's nation-wide map of abutting communes (municipalities). It centers on a core of communes (the pôle urbain) that represents a distinct and unified conurbation, a zone of economically and socially interdependent communities displaying interconnected and unbroken urban growth.
This center forms a "pole of attraction" for a "periurban ring" or "commuter belt" (couronne périurbaine). Communes having at least 40% of their resident populations commuting back and forth to the pôle urbain, or commuting to other communes having the same relation to the pôle urbain, are defined as being part of the aire urbaine commuter belt. The result is a precise demographic map of a center of urban growth and its socio-economic reach into the surrounding area.
Note that there is a slight difference between a pôle urbain and another commonly used demographic term, the unité urbaine (the "urban unit"). The unité urbaine is a contiguous urban area supporting at least five thousand jobs, and the pôle urbain is an urban area not contained within the couronne périurbaine (commuter belt) of any other pôle urbain.
The following is a list of the fifteen largest urban areas of France, based on population data gathered at the 2006 census. The classification of the population is sometimes different from the INSEE number.
|Yearly percent change
|1||001||Paris ||12 089 098||+0.7%|
|2||002||Lyon ||2 118 132||+0.8%|
|3||003||Marseille ||1 780 095||+0.8%|
(figures do not include the part of Lille's
metropolitan area which lies on Belgian territory)
|1 264 716||+0.3%|
|5||005||Toulouse ||1 256 887||+1.9%|
|6||007||Bordeaux ||1 120 149||+1.1%|
|7||006||Nice ||1 091 903||+0.9%|
|8||008||Nantes ||763 118||+1.0%|
(figures do not include the part of Strasbourg's
metropolitan area which lies on German territory, see Strasbourg-Ortenau)
|10||010||Toulon ||595 884||+0.8%|
|11||012||Rennes ||571 753||+1.3%|
|12||011||Douai-Lens ||546 723||–0.2%|
|13||014||Grenoble ||531 440||+0.5%|
|14||013||Rouen ||523 236||+0.1%|
|15||015||Montpellier ||510 391||+1.5%|
See also 
- List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants (1999 census)
- Social situation in the French suburbs
- Demographics of France
- List of metropolitan areas in Europe by population
- Larger Urban Zone
- Unité urbaine a related concept
- Geopolis: research group,university of Paris-Diderot, France - Population of urban areas of 10,000 or more