What's the difference between a town and a village?

Published on 27/09/2023 | La rédaction

Nowadays, when we think of a village, we think of a certain quality of life, a return to our roots and nature. But do we really understand the difference between town and village?

What's the difference between a large village and a small town? What exactly is their definition? Here are some answers.

What is the definition of a town?

It's not always easy to tell the difference between a town and a village... Especially when you consider that the word town derives from the Latin villa, meaning farm! In the past, a villa defined a farm or a house in the countryside. The term then took 2 parallel directions, giving rise to the words villagium, referring to the farm as we know it, and ville, referring to a "group of houses". The city is far from being a recent notion, and it covers different realities depending on where you live in the world. In France, a town is a place where people gather to carry out certain activities: trade, crafts and services. Agricultural activities, on the other hand, are the preserve of villages. A town is also characterized by a concentration of housing organized around streets, of which there can be many, depending on the size of the town.

What is a village?

But this definition is also tending to disappear... Because in many villages, there are also concentrations of housing and various activities linked to commerce, crafts and services. Just like in towns. And yet, a village is still associated with the countryside and its over-representation of agricultural activities. But here again, this distinction is far from sufficient. Generally speaking, it's the number of inhabitants that distinguishes a village from a town. The figure used by Insee for this criterion is 2,000. Beyond 2,000 inhabitants, the commune is therefore considered a (small) town. However, there is a subtlety here too. Indeed, some communes with more than 2,000 inhabitants can retain the village designation if the inhabitants are scattered around the center, and not concentrated in the heart of the commune.

In short, what's the difference between a town and a village?

The number and distribution of a town's inhabitants are the main criteria for distinguishing a town from a village. Another criterion also plays a part in this distinction: housing density. If the dwellings in the center of a town exceed 2,000 occupants, it's because the housing stock is dense enough to accommodate a significant number of people. As mentioned earlier, a population of less than 2,000 souls is considered a village, and beyond that, a town. But what about the distinction between village and market town? Insee introduces the criterion of distance between two dwellings. When the distance between two dwellings is less than 200 meters, we speak of a "bourg". Beyond that, we speak of a village, when the other criteria are also met.

Town, village and commune: what are the differences?

The commune is the smallest administrative subdivision in France. A commune can be either a town or a village, and is necessarily administered by a mayor. Today, to distinguish between different types of urban areas, Insee uses the concepts of rural communes and urban communes, based on a density grid. Communes with a low population density are called rural, and those with an intermediate or high population density are called urban.

Source: www.geo.fr/

Did you like this article? Share it ...


Leave a comment

Your comment will be published after validation.