Faubourg (pronounced: [fo.buːʁ]) is an ancient French term approximating "suburb" (now generally termed banlieue). The earliest form is Forsbourg, derived from Latin foris, 'out of', and Vulgar Latin (originally Germanic) burgum, 'town' or 'fortress'. Traditionally, this name was given to an agglomeration forming around a throughway leading outwards from a city gate, and usually took the name of the same thoroughfare within the city. As cities were often located atop hills (for defensive purposes), their outlying communities were frequently lower down. Many faubourgs were located below their towns, and the term "suburbs" is derived from this tendency (sub = below; urbs urbis = city).
Faubourgs are often considered the predecessor of European suburbs, into which they evolved generally in the 1950s and '60s. Although early suburbs still conserved some characteristics related to faubourgs (such as the back alleys with doors, little break margins for houses, etc.), later suburbs underwent major changes in their construction, primarily in terms of residential density.
Beside many French cities, the places faubourgs can still be found outside Europe include the province of Quebec in Canada and the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The cities of Quebec and Montreal contain examples, although Montreal has far greater divergences in terms of "banlieue," which lead to similarities of many Ontarian and American suburbs.
Faubourgs were prominent in Paris during the first industrialization efforts of the early 19th century. The southern part of the Seine was an early expansion out of the city when the fortifications were demolished and relied heavily on horse trams. The Haussmannian Paris erased many traces of ancient faubourgs and the term banlieue was then coined.
Many Parisian streets have retained their ancient denomination in spite of city growth; today it is still possible to discern pre-1860 delimitations in Paris by marking the point where a thoroughfare's name changes from rue to rue du faubourg. For instance, the rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis used to be located outside of the city wall and was an extension of the rue Saint-Denis within the walls. The rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré came about in a similar manner.
The term was also used in the early expansion of New Orleans beyond the original city plan, when French was still a common language in the colonial city, even though in terms of characteristics, real faubourgs never existed in the city. Faubourg Tremé and Faubourg Marigny, two of the oldest neighborhoods outside of the French Quarter, are persistent examples. Another early example was Faubourg Ste. Marie — originally (late 18th century) a residential area — which was overtaken by commerce, developing into the modern Central Business District.
Greater Montreal no longer has any actual faubourgs on the main island, as the suburb now refers to the North and South Shores. However, placenames like le Faubourg St-Laurent is still occasionally used to refer to the sections of Ville-Marie.
Furthermore, the term des faubourgs de Montréal ("the Montreal suburbs") is preserved in some placenames in the city proper, such as the annexes (branches) of the École des Métiers des Faubourgs-de-Montréal. There was also a Caisse des Faubourgs de Montréal in The Village, which in 2003 was closed down.
The term faubourg is still alive in Quebec City, where it is mostly used to designate the Saint-Jean-Baptiste neighbourhood, often called Faubourg Saint-Jean-Baptiste or even le faubourg by its inhabitants. The term also applies to the Saint-Roch and Saint-Sauveur areas, and the three neighbourhoods are comprised in the municipal district of les Faubourgs.
- Vorstadt, the German equivalent
- Campanella, Richard. Time and Place in New Orleans: Past Geographies in the Present Day. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, 2002. ISBN 1-56554-991-0
- Ville de Montréal, Le Quartier latin et le Faubourg Saint-Laurent
- Association des résidants et des résidantes des Faubourgs de Montréal
- Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, Caisse Desjardins du Quartier-Latin de Montréal. The Caisse Desjardins des Faubourgs de Montréal was at 1662 Saint Catherine Street East, and its operations were taken over by the Caisse du Quartier-Latin as of 2003.
- Ville de Québec