Home page >Studies >The landscapes of the Ile-de-France

The way a particular society views landscapes always comprises a comparison with these artistic portrayals and their motifs.- Photo : © Rossi (Stéphane), IAU îdF

Certain elements stand out because of the particularly damaging effect they have on the landscape.- Photo : © Daniel (Marie-Angèle), IAU îdF

Designing a town implies the need to adapt its form to the scale of its geographical siting, its conurbation and each of its districts.- Photo : © Loudier (Céline), IAU îdF

Drawing a line in the landscape is primarily a task of matching scales, between the infrastructure and the varying scale of the landscape.- Photo : © Pattacini (Jean-Claude), IAU îdF, Urba images

The actions favouring landscape must not only be society projects, but also creation projects – i .e. desirable transformations of the space that enriches the common heritage.- Photo : © Lacombe (Matthias), IAU îdF

The landscapes of the Ile-de-France. Cahiers n° 117-118

October 1997

The Ile-de-France has a very fine heritage of architecture and landscape. But the threat to the landscapes is even greater in the Ile-de-France than anywhere else, because of the size of its population, the extent of its urbanisation and the importance of its infrastructure. The time has now come to bring together and present all the concrete experience that has been gained and all the more technical information that has been gathered on the subject of the landscape, with particular reference to the Ile-de-France region.


The aim of this study is to be useful and we would like it to be used. Understanding is necessary if we are to take action. Our aim in this first part is not only to describe the landscapes of the Ile-de-France but also to explain how they are perceived, how they are formed and transformed, and discover the stakes they represent. The way a society considers its landscapes, the demand for conservation, rehabilitation or creation of landscapes are always based on reference landscapes. Those representations and their influence, both current and foreseeable, have here been analysed. The second essential factor in understanding today’s landscapes is their natural and human history. Natural history explains the different types of relief, the positioning of water sources, important plant formations. Human history shows the logic in the organization of the land by farming, communication networks, urbanization. The composition of landscapes is the result of that history. Finally, it seems essential to present and analyse the main policies that have already been implemented and also those in charge of them, their objectives and the means by which they hope to achieve their aims.

Taking action

In many ways our daily actions have a direct effect on the development of the landscape, on the slow or rapid changes that take place, on the way we see it. In taking action for the landscape, we find ourselves at a crossroads, faced with three triple problems: the problem of space (urban, suburban and rural); that of ‘the act’ involved (designing, improving, preserving); that of the type of landscape (recognised landscapes, ones that are constantly evolving, and ones that have been forgotten). This second part aims to approach and illustrate with examples the main themes of action where the landscapes of the Ile-de-France are concerned. We have taken up nine of those themes, from active design to conservation, from the very urban to the very rural, from the recognised landscape to the forgotten landscape. The full set of themes described thus represents a sum total of experiences that may serve as material for all types a consideration on the subject of landscape, from streets to new towns, from a single tree to a forest…


A large number of actors are involved with the landscape, whether it be everyday landscape or something more outstanding, and each of those actors uses his skills, tools, powers and convictions to play his role. Unfortunately, however, each one still tends to play his own tune. A more overall approach should be the rule, with everyone pulling together in the same direction to obtain sustainable development. The landscape is our heritage, it is up to us to manage, develop, enrich and preserve it, and thus leave it to future generations without impairing its beauty by thoughtless actions or allowing whole areas to be irremediably spoiled.

Others studies in the same domain :



Keeping land under agriculture is a condition for maintaining the open spaces in the urban

Large and small rivers, their banks, their surroundings and their valleys, are all elements which structure local and regional landscapes.the Autonomous Port of Paris Festival de l'Oh!

Green systems in the central sector of the metropolitan area is formed by a network of parks, public gardens and green linkups (still very rare).the Ourcq Canal

The risk is to create “museum districts”. The challenge is to introduce into the Parisian land use plan POS a vision of heritage which does not impede development.

Breaks isolating the sector under development from the neighbouring districts can be eradicated or reduced by, e.g., a slab built over a rail junction.the Paris Rive Gauche operation

The nature of the qualities to be conserved and which contribute to overall landscape quality can fall into several types : formal, structural, productive, ecological, recreational or associative.Montmartre Paris

Most areas have one dominating feature to which a policy can be applied
the Versailles Park and Gardens

Large-scale town planning operations played a role in ordering and structuring the suburban landscape and creating new urban shapes.
EPA Marne-la-Vallee

Certain projects have a strong impact on the way we apprehend the landscape, for they provide landmarks or restructure it.
the National Library of France (BnF)

Landscape policies

European Landscape Convention

the Landscape Act of 1993
the Act regarding “Decentralization”
the law of 1976 on the protection of nature