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Map reveals poverty-stricken parts of France

A new map out on Tuesday shows the neighbourhoods where France's poorest residents live. While being included on might be a dubious distinction, it could also mean millions or even billions of euros for revitalization projects.

Map reveals poverty-stricken parts of France
A new map shows where France's poorest neighborhood's are concentrated. Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

France’s poorest neighborhoods are clustered in the north, around Paris and many are in just one slice of Marseille, according to a new map of poverty that could unlock billions of euros in revitalization funding from the government.

After years of political battles over how urban planning money was doled out, the government undertook a multi-year overhaul of its criteria for poverty, which resulted in the map unveiled on Tuesday by Urban Planning Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. In stunning clarity, it pinpoints France's 1,500 poorest neighbourhoods.  

According to a definition chosen by lawmakers, a neighborhood is considered poor if half its residents live on less than €11,250 per year, which is 60 percent of the national median income.

While such low income levels are cause for alarm among France's leaders, the poverty level makes the neighborhoods eligible for a portion of €300 million in government grants, as well potentially for some of €5 billion more that is expected in the autumn from national leaders. 

Not surprisingly, given it is France's largest population centre, Paris is home to some of the country’s densest clusters of underprivileged quarters. Many of the poorest were in the northeastern corner of Paris and in the northeastern suburbs of the capital. 

However, the western and south western suburbs of Paris, which contain some of the greatest concentrations of wealth in the country, are home to virtually no neighborhoods that meet the government’s criteria for poverty.

Poverty is also heavily concentrated in France's Nord and Pas Calais areas, which include the city of Roubaix, long known as ground zero for Frances less privileged. These areas, like many formerly industrial places, have struggled to recover from France’s declining industrial base.

A map of France’s second largest city, Marseille, highlights a striking division in poverty between the northern and southern parts of the city. Marseilles’s poorest neighborhoods are densely concentrated in the north, where poverty, drug dealing and assault rifles combine to create zones of high violence.

Yet, on the extreme other end of the scale, few of France’s poorest neighborhoods are in the rugged coastal area of Brittany. The lack of concentration, however, does not fully reflect the poverty in the area, which is due to the ever increasing difficulty of smaller-scale farmers to make a living. Farmers, in the form of the Bonnet Rouge movement staged a rebellion last year in Brittany over a proposed heavy-good vehicle tax.

To see the poverty map of France in full you can CLICK HERE.

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Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.

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