The paper examines the patterns of internal migration and population change in France over the recent decades at departément and commune scales. Regional population change is controlled by both natural increase and internal migration. There are two differing patterns of natural increase: north and east France has higher natural increase and south and east has lower. The geographic pattern of internal migration has changed substantially over the last 50 years, most dramatically in the Île-de-France, which showed the highest gains between 1954 and 1962 but the highest losses between 1975 and 1982. Urban growth, which was strong in the 1950s and 1960s, reversed in the 1970s favouring small towns but recovered slightly in the last 20 years. \ud Migration gains and losses show a quite complicated pattern of depopulation of city centres combined with slow suburbanisation and advanced periurbanisation. Periurbanisation is evident in Paris region and in nearly all large urban agglomerations. Most other cities show suburbanisation or periurbanisation at various stages of development. \ud Out-migration shows a clear division of the country into a northern part with higher rates, and a central and southern part of the country with lower out-migration. This simple pattern is modified by higher out-migration from some cities such as Lyon or Clermont-Ferrand and from isolated rural communes scattered all over the country. Out-migration also has a regional dimension: there are shifts towards more attractive areas, in particular Alpine region and Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. \ud Analysis of migration between size bands of rural and urban units shows a significant deconcentration process, and a similar pattern characterises migration between population density bands. The general movement is down the urban/density band hierarchy, from higher to lower urban/density bands. Deep rural areas are not attractive and excluded from the process of counterurbanisation. In addition, unemployment was found to have a strong and very efficient impact on migration behaviour. \ud Analysis for 1990-1999 leads to slight modification of this picture: a slow recovery of central parts of the largest urban agglomerations and less differentiated patterns than in the 1980s. Deconcentration of the French population continues but is less powerful. \u
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