What’s happening in my country

France

This page contains specific information about the planning and implementation of smart villages in France. The information aims to orient people on policy planning, key contacts and resources on smart villages. However, it neither aims to be fully comprehensive, nor necessarily reflects the official government or European Commission position.

Explore how smart villages are being implemented in France.

You can also visit the page of the Smart Rural 21 selected village: Mouans-Sartoux

Key CAP contact(s) :

Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Key contact(s) :
Pierre Poussard (Deputy Manager of the Rural Development Coordination Unit)
Email : pierre.poussard@agriculture.gouv.fr
Website : https://agriculture.gouv.fr/politique-agricole-commune

Support for Smart Villages under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

1) Preparation of the future CAP in France

The first step in the drafting of the CAP Strategic Plan was the preparation of a diagnosis (in February 2020) aiming to identify the national and regional needs regarding the future CAP.

The CAP national debate, called ‘ImPACtons’, was launched on 24 February 2020, involving citizens in the definition of the CAP Strategic Plan. The debate was expected to close by 7 June 2020, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the platform was reopened in September 2020, when public debates at the regional level were organised in addition.

The debate was organised on the basis of questions, such as: ‘What do I eat?’, ‘What agricultural models do you want in France?’, ‘Which agro-ecological transition do you prefer for agriculture?’, ‘How to co-exist in rural areas?’, ‘Who to decide the agricultural policy?’

The debate on the CAP SP was finalised and a report was published on 7 April 2021 by the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

 

2) Smart villages and LEADER

In the 2014-2020 programming period, LEADER was not directly related to smart villages. However, LEADER did contribute financial support to smart village initiatives. Among others, LEADER supported initiatives such as digital capacity building for local business, rural high school for digital transitiondigital open platform for disseminating farming innovationscollaborative project on co-working spaces.

Further information on CAP & smart villages :

Ministry of Agriculture response to the final report of the public debate on the CAP Strategic Plan ( 07/04/2021 ) - French Ministry of Agriculture and Food (Language : French)

Key NRN contact(s) :

French Rural Network
Key contact(s) :
David Armellini (Mission Head, French Rural Network)
Email : david.armellini@agriculture.gouv.fr
Website : https://www.reseaurural.fr/

Activities of the National Rural Network (NRN) on smart villages

The French Rural Network (NRN) has participated in events of the ENRD thematic working group on Smart Villages.

The NRN regularly publishes articles on its website to explain and communicate about the concept of ‘smart villages’.

The French NRN has organised a webinar on 28 May 2020, with the objective of exchanging about current practices and planning future NRN support for smart villages: Presentations included those from the ENRD, the Smart Rural 21 project and digital and social innovation cooperation projects financed under the EAFRD.

 

The NRN launched a smart villages research study in September 2021 with the aim of analysing the concept and drafting a practical guide intended to share definitions, objectives, and examples from France and from across Europe. The guide will be mainly dedicated to elected representatives of municipalities. The study will run until September 2022.


Support provided through other national/ regional policies & initiatives

At the national level, the government has developed new institutions and policies contributing to the development of rural areas and smart communities, such as:

  • Study (2017) entitled ‘From smart cities to smart territories’ commissioned by the French parliament to assess the implementation of smart cities, formalising the conditions to develop smart cities and territories.
  • Creation of a Digital Agency (governmental administration) in 2015, whose mission is to support actions in the field of innovation and digital development, including supporting high-speed internet for the whole country, inclusive digital society and growth of French start-ups. The Agency created the ‘digital pass’ (pass numérique), enabling people to receive digital training in order to reduce the digital divide.
  • A ‘Rural Agenda’ with 200 propositions for rural development, including topics linked to Smart Villages.
  • Creation of ‘Maison France Service’ (French Service Centres) for gathering public services in both rural and urban districts in each canton in France.
  • The ‘Action Coeur de Ville’ national programme aiming at supporting medium-sized towns in the revitalisation of their centres.
  • Following a study published by the Association ‘France Tiers-Lieux’ (‘French Third Place’), the government opened a budget of EUR 130 million dedicated to the creation of 300 ‘territory factories’ among which 150 are in non-urban areas.
  • ‘New places, new links’ is an inter-ministerial programme which provides access to new activities and new services for residents throughout rural areas and in small towns.
  • ‘Small towns of tomorrow’ works to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of small towns and surrounding areas by supporting communities in dynamic and environmentally friendly trajectories. The objective of the programme is to strengthen the means of elected representatives of municipalities with fewer than 20 000 inhabitants, exercising centrality functions to build and concretise the means to materialise their territorial projects, throughout their terms in office and up to 2026.

 

Various networks have also been active in supporting the smart villages approach and policies, such as the Association of French Rural Mayors.


Key organisations & contacts

Launched in June 2019, this ‘Parliament’ brings together a wide range of stakeholders involved in rural areas, including NGOs, firms, experts, etc. It represents the diversity of French rurality.

Key activities :

It aims to inspire public policies related to rural areas and to develop a positive image of rural areas beyond the classic duality between urban and rural territories.


Key contact(s) :

Claire BELET (Project Manager on European projects and smart villages)
Email : adrets@adrets-asso.fr

An organisation bringing together territorial stakeholders willing to promote and share resources in order to improve access to public services in Alpine rural areas.

Key activities :
  • In the framework of the Interreg ALPINE SPACE ‘Smart Village’ project, ADRETS published a report about smart village stakes, methodologies and experiences in June 2021.
  • ADRETS is also in charge of drafting a report and state-of-the-art on ‘smart villages’ (Autumn 2021) for the French Rural Network.


Key contact(s) :

Frédéri Cagnato (Project Manager)
Email : contact@nouvellesruralites.org

The Association provides positive communication about rural territories, aiming to inspire the related public policies. It is working to rebuild a positive image of the potential that rurality represents for France. It is about replacing a rural myth on which all city-countryside relationships are based today with a vision closer to real and lived reality.

Key activities :
  • To defend rural areas
  • To boost cooperation
  • To popularise the potential of rural areas
  • To reduce territorial fractures
  • To work on concrete proposals


Key contact(s) :

Florent Boithias (Projet Director of the smart cities and territories project)
Email : florent.boithias@cerema.fr

The Cerema (Centre for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Environment, Mobility and Planning) is a public institution focused on supporting public policies, placed under the dual supervision of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities.

Key activities :
  • Platform collecting resources, articles, videos, experiences
  • Newsletter: news on smart territories


Key contact(s) :

Cécile Potel (Network Manager)
Email : amrf@amrf.fr
Cédric Szabo (Director)
Email : Cedric.szabo@amrf.fr

The Association of Rural Mayors of France unites, informs and represents the mayors of municipalities with fewer than 3 500 inhabitants. The association is committed to defend the specific interests of rural areas at both local and national levels. It works towards a more balanced approach to local planning and places its actions within the wider European rural context.

Key activities :

The association envisages to set up a network and working groups linked to ‘smart villages’. The objective would be to exchange practices addressing challenges such as:

– guaranteeing a good level of services in rural areas through digital solutions and digital mediation;

– supporting use of digital technologies.

The National Rural Network and the Association of Rural Mayors of France will work together on the concept of ‘smart villages’.


The Ruralitic Forum is dedicated to the topics of digital and rural territories.

Key activities :
  • Annual Ruralitic Forum in Aurillac (FR) since 2005;
  • Article on the Ruralitic website about smart village experiences in France and interviews with key stakeholders (mayors, experts, CEOs…).


Key contact(s) :

Patricia Andriot (Project Manager)
Email : Patricia.ANDRIOT@anct.gouv.fr.
Key activities :

The Agency’s mission is to stimulate and support actions preparing the French society for digital transitions, intervene in the support of territorial ecosystems, associating public and private actors, playing a role in the animation and support of local initiatives.



Further key resources

Supporting Third places and linkages to Smart Village in France
Marc Laget - National Agency for Territorial Cohesion ( 27/11/2023 )
A presentation on the concept of Third Places highlighting their support in France through EU funding and their dual focus on addressing social issues through collective innovation and fostering economic activities in rural areas was given during the 2nd European Smart Villages Pilot Observatory meeting.
Language : English

Lighthouse factsheet of Lormes
Municipality of Lormes ( 2023 )
The factsheet outlines the  smart journey of Lormes, lighthouse community in digital services within the Smart Rural 27 project. The aim of Lormes was to strengthen digital competences and skills among citizens and local businesses, to establish a powerful digital infrastructure, and to create digital service offerings responding to needs of citizens and local businesses.
Language : English

Podcast | Lormes
Lila Plet - Municipality of Lormes ( 2023 )
Podcast featuring Lormes, a forward-looking municipality in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France. With the motto “Let’s Invent Together the Rural Territory of the Future,” Lormes aims to become a village of the future, leveraging fiber-optic internet, a digital hub, and co-creation initiatives to connect its community, enhance local services, and embrace new opportunities for businesses and rural development.

Launch meeting Knowledge Cluster on Digital Services- Lormes
Lila Plet - Municipality of Lormes ( 26/04/2023 )
Video presentation of Lormes lighthouse example during the Introductory Meeting of the e-Service Knowledge Cluster  that showcased the village’s innovative approach to harnessing digital solutions for local development purposes
Language : English

Case study: Call for ‘Smart and sustainable territories’, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Region, France
E40 ( 02/2022 )
A policy case study on the call of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Region, France, prepared in the framework of the Smart Rural 21 project.
Language : English

Smart village, towards a French model for rural territories – national guide
French Rural Network , ADRETS ( 2022 )
A national guide on “Smart village, towards a French model for rural territories” has been published. The guide provides rural elected representatives a methodology and concrete examples to put into practice the Smart Village approach in their territory. It is divided into the following five sections:
  • Smart village, what are we talking about?
  • Methodological references
  • Resources
  • Initiatives and words of actors
  • Lessons learned

Language : French

Smart Villages meeting in Lormes
European Network for Rural Development Contact Point (ENRD CP) , Nièvre Numérique ( 06/06/2019 )
A report film about the eigth meeting of the ENRD Thematic Group on ‘Smart Villages’.
Language : French

Smart Villages: for a successful digital and societal transformation
ADRETS ( 05/2018 – 2021 )
The Smart Villages project, funded by the European Union’s Alpine Space programme, ran between May 2018 and May 2021. Its objective was to transpose the ‘Smart City’ ap-proach to the rural environment by reflecting on the contri-butions of technical, digital and social innovation in the new ways of using rural space and the ‘village’. The webpage con-tains a Smart Villages resource database collected by the project.
Language : French

Smart Villages Manifesto
Ruralitic Forum ( 06/2016 )
The Smart Villages Manifesto intends to unite those who no longer want to be content with deploring the situation of the countryside or seeking those responsible for its difficulties, but now want to build on their own scale and together, solutions for the future. It can be signed by any local elected representative and any citizen who recognises themselves in its principles and wishes to promote them.
Language : French

‘Smart Alpes’
ADRETS ( 2018 – Ongoing )
An alpine working group on ‘smart villages’, bringing together five pioneer French smart villages that will work together on developing a toolkit. The group was launched by the ADRETS Association.
Language : French

COLABORA: Coworking Space in Rural Areas
LAG Pays Guéret
An interantional cooperation project led by a Local Action Group to  explore the economic advantages of the creation of coworking spaces in rural areas. At the same time, it allows a better understanding of the practices, in terms of creating and managing these coworking spaces.
Language : French

USAGES – peasants’ knowledge base for the Commons
L’Atelier Paysan ( 2015 – 2018 )
An initiative of collecting and sharing low tech on farm solutions, started by a small group of young farmers, which consequently evolved into a digital open platform for disseminating innovations. The initiative is highlighted as a good practice by the European Network for Rural Development
Language : English

The WAB, a rural high-school for digital transition
Web Association Bergeracoise (WAB) ( 2015 – 2016 )
A web school for local businesses providing digital tools to better organise their work and market their services and products. The project has benefitted from LEADER support and has been highlighted as a good practice by the European Network for Rural Development.
Language : English

Smart villages webinar video
French Rural Network ( 28/05/2020 )
A recording of the French NRN webinar which exchanged current practices and planning future NRN support for ‘smart villages’.
Language : French

Smart villages webinar
French Rural Network ( 28/05/2020 )
Presentations from the French NRN webinar which exchanged current practices and planning future NRN support for ‘smart villages’. Participants included representatives from the ENRD Contact Point, the Smart Rural 21 project, as well as digital and social innovation cooperation projects financed under the EAFRD
Language : French

Smart Villages: Revitalisation of rural services
European Network for Rural Development Contact Point (ENRD CP)
A video produced by the European Network for Rural Development Contact Point subtitled in French, explaining how a smart village works, thanks to the ability of rural residents who look for practical solutions to the disadvantages and opportunities of their territories
Language : English, French

National Rural Network smart village online resources
French Rural Network
Online resources, including events, webinars, publications, good practices and other relevant information to the topic of smart villages as published on the French NRN website.
Language : French

Interview with Marc Laget on the topic of ‘smart villages’
French Rural Network ( 10/03/2019 )
Interview with Marc Laget, planning and digital development expert of  the General Commission for Territorial Equality (CGET) and member of the National Agency for Territorial Cohesion (ANCT) prepared on the occasion of the 8th ENRD Thematic Group meeting on ‘Smart Villages’ held in Nièvre (Lormes).
Language : French

‘Smart Paesi’ project
University of Corsica
The ‘Smart Paesi’ project of the University of Corsica works to develop a digital infrastructure aiming to implement a Living Lab on the island. This includes:
  • development of networks of connected objects gathering information regarding village activities (agriculture, risks, farming…)
use of the artificial intelligence (AI) to optimise resource management (energy, water, waste) in order to help public authorities and enable better access to information for citizens.

Language : French

’Rural Agenda’ report
The Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities ( 26/07/2019 )
The report represents an action plan for rural areas.  The report “Ruralities: an ambition to share”, submitted on 26 July 2019 is the result of the work of the “Rural Agenda” mission launched by the Minister of Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities together with the Minister of Agriculture and Food.
Language : French

Call for projects ‘smart territories’
Sud Region ( 02/2021 – 04/2021 )
A call launched by the Sud region, linked to its smart strategy published in November 2016. The call is published in the framework of the REACT-EU programme.
Language : French

Call for projects ‘smart and sustainable areas’
Bourgogne Franche-Comté Region ( 03/2021 – 12/2021 )
A call launched by the Bourgogne Franche-Comté region intended to support public stakeholders in developing and implementing digital projects that preserve citizens’ well-being and natural resources.
Language : French

Small towns of tomorrow
National Agency for Territorial Cohesion ( 01/10/2020 – Ongoing )
The programme works to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of small towns and surrounding areas by supporting communities in dynamic and environmentally friendly ways. The objective is to strengthen the means of elected representatives of cities and their intercommunalities (groups of municipalities) with fewer than 20 000 inhabitants exercising centrality functions to build and concretise the means to materialise their territorial projects, throughout their term of office, up to 2026. The programme forms part of the Rural Agenda.
Language : French

New places, new links
National Agency for Territorial Cohesion ( 2020 – Ongoing )
An interministerial programme providing access to new activities and new services for residents throughout rural areas and small towns. Its objectives are to:
  • promote the finest possible network;
  • give the means to diversify income by developing services of general interest tailored to needs;
  • facilitate the professionalisation and organisation of networks;
involve public and private partners around this programme by offering an intervention framework and shared tools.

Language : French

French ‘Territory Factories’ (Third Places)
National Agency for Territorial Cohesion ( 11/07/2019 – Ongoing )
A call for expression of interest for the financing of 300 ‘territory factories’ eligible to receive between EUR 75 000 and 150 000 euros over three years, 150 of which in non-urban areas. Thirty of those ‘factories’ will be ‘Digital Third Places’, similar to our highlighted smart solution from Arvieu.
Language : French

‘Coeur de ville’ action programme
The Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities ( 2017 )
A national programme supporting medium-sized towns in the revitalisation of their centres. The objective is to improve the residents’ living conditions and strengthen the driving role of these towns in the development of the territory. These cities are sources of economic, heritage, cultural and social dynamism, but sometimes they experience difficulties in attractiveness, degraded housing or commercial vitality. To address these issues, in December 2017, the ministry launched this large-scale public investment plan, applicable to 222 municipalities.
Language : French

Digital Schools Label 2020
French Ministry of National Education and Youth ( 2020 )
A National call for a project dedicated to rural areas with fewer than 3 500 inhabitants. The aim of this call is to ensure that the development of digital uses in educational innovation can specifically support rural areas.
Language : French

France Num
French Government
A government initiative for the digital transformation of entreprises. Its mission is to carry the public policy of digital transformation of entreprises throughout the territory. This happens through :
  • Animation of the ecosystem of actors engaged in digital transformation by facilitating their exchanges and by equipping them;
  • Supporting these companies in taking action by showing them the concrete benefits of digital transformation and directing them to the players who will support them in concrete terms;
Organisation and support of fundraising and accompanying actions, as well as training and events to facilitate meetings.

Language : French

Towards the smart village – renewing access to services in rural areas with data
Smart Villages Alpine Space Interreg project ( 16/10/2018 )
An event organised within the framework of the Intensi Alpine Space project to debate and discover opportunities offered by digital data with regard to access to services in rural areas.

Rural areas: an ambition to be shared
Daniel Labaronne , Patrice Joly , Pierre Jarlier , Cécile Gallien , Dominique Dhumeaux ( 07/2019 )
A report detailing 200 measures in support of rural areas to improve the lives of residents, including on issues touching on smart villages.
Language : French

‘SGI house’ good practice
Royans Vercors – France
A project that provides administrative and social support to individuals in need in the aim prevening social divisions provoked by digitalisation. ‘SGI house’ supports both people with hospitality and global solutions, as well as with dedicated organisations and specialist consultions for specific issues.

Language : English, French

Lormes (FR) mayor speaks about smart villages
European Network for Rural Development Contact Point (ENRD CP) ( 06/06/2019 )
A video featuring the intervention of Fabien Bazin, mayor of Lormes (FR), during a panel discussion at the 8th meeting of the ENRD Thematic Group on ‘Smart Villages’.
Language : French

Smart villages conference
Smart Villages Alpine Space Interreg project ( 17/09/2019 )
A video of the conference on smart villages, which took place in September 2019 in the framework of a dedicated Interreg project.
Language : English

Platform for smart cities and areas
Cerema
A platform raising awareness of local initiatives linked to smart cities and territories and working to accelerate the development and promotion of projects and exchange of experience.
Language : French

Smart cities – Everyone concerned, from the village to the metropolis
Cerema , CEREMA ( 2018 )
A guide dedicated to elected officials, intended to support them in the field of digital transition.
Language : French

Smart city versus stupid village
Caisse des Dépôts ( 09/2016 )
A guide intended as a tool to enable local authorities decipher the major current issues and existing solutions regarding digital innovaton. The objective is to both raise awareness and promote innovative projects.
Language : French

Booklet on smart villages
ADRETS ( 06/2021 )
Publication on smart villages including methodologies and experiences.

Language : French

2nd Smart Rural Communities Café, Mouans-Sartoux (France)
Thibaud Lalanne - Municipality of Mouans-Sartoux ( 08/01/2020 )
Thibaud Lalanne from Mouans-Sartoux tells about the way they built up 100% organic school canteens and municipal farm, as well as how the village has managed to design a resilient and ecosystemic food project based on a diversity of policies.
Language : English

Smart Village Strategy of Mouans-Sartoux (France)
Municipality of Mouans-Sartoux ( 06/2020 )
The Smart Village Strategy of Mouans-Sartoux has been developed in the context of the ‘Preparatory Action for Smart Rural Areas in the 21st Century’ project funded by the European Commission.
Language : English

Mouans-Sartoux – an innovative and ambitious food project
Thibaud Lalanne , Nathan Begoc - Municipality of Mouans-Sartoux ( 27/10/2020 )
A short video presented at the 1st Smart Village Academy of the Smart Rural 21 project,  about Mouans-Sartoux’s (France) sustainable food policy project.
Language : English, French

Smart Rural – Empowering the Rural Community to use Mobile Technology
Catherine Murphy - Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) ( 01/09/2015 – 31/08/2018 )
Innovative European Funded Erasmus + research project called ‘SmartRural’ with three other partners from Austria, France and Spain. The project looked at how ICT and mobile applications can be used to enhance agricultural activities as well as improving productivity, social and economic activities in rural communities. The project suggested the creation of an ad hoc training methodology based on the famers’s needs, offering them basic and specific knowledge on mobile applications. The project concluded with a conference entitled ‘The Future of Technology on the Farm’.  
Language : English

Interreg Alpine Space “SmartVillages” initiative
Swiss Centre for mountain regions Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für die Berggebiete SAB , University of Maribor
The project aims to apply a Smart Village approach and bring together – in so-called Regional Stakeholder Groups (policy makers, business, academia and civil society) to improve the framework for innovation through new forms of stakeholder involvement facilitated by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The test area includes Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland.
Language : English

Funded by