AttracVil is a collaborative project of researchers working on the issue of small and medium-sized towns
The scientific objective of the collaboration, associating geographers, archaeologists, historians, urban planners, sociologists and economists, is dealing with forms of attractiveness in secondary towns. Small and medium sized towns are playing a key role in the attractiveness of urban spaces and their surrounding areas. This aspect has been reaffirmed at the European level through the implementation of policies focusing on a polycentric urban network development. This role is an historical one, as proved by works led by Archaeologists on secondary agglomerations in Gallo-roman times or by Historians on the forms of attractiveness of small towns in the medieval period.
The topic of attractiveness is a good way to analyse the issue of secondary towns and their surrounding areas. Facing changing countryside, sometime depopulated, sometimes more dynamics than themselves, are small towns always to be considered as “central places” or as relay nodes? What remains of these inherited functional relationships in times of intensive mobility and communication, in often fragile demographical contexts, when local hospitals or law courts are closing down, if not secondary schools and police stations? In the meantime, and paradoxically, criteria of quality of life are new arguments for those towns, often associated with “natural” surroundings, giving value to heritage elements and making them even more attractive in a period of development of residential economy.