WHEN the director of a job centre organised a visit to the Louvre for unemployed youngsters, she knew it would be a rare event. Sevran is one of Frances poorest places, north-east of the Paris périphérique. The jobless rate is 18%, and over 40% among the young. Yet the director was taken aback by how exceptional the visit proved. Of the 40 locals who made the 32km (20-mile) trip, 15 had never left Sevran, and 35 had never seen a museum.
Sevran is one of Frances 717 "sensitive urban zones, most of them in the banlieues. In such places unemployment is over twice the national rate. More than half the residents are of foreign origin, chiefly Algerian, Moroccan and sub-Saharan African. Three-quarters live in subsidised housing; 36% are below the poverty line, three times the national average. (continue reading...)