Sarcelles, a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored by curious travelers. Located just 16.3 km (10.1 mi) from the centre of Paris, Sarcelles is a sub-prefecture of the Val-d’Oise department and the seat of the arrondissement of Sarcelles. The city has a rich history and is home to a vibrant and diverse population of over 40,000 residents from 40 different backgrounds.
During the 1950s and 1960s, vast housing estates were built in the southern part of Sarcelles to accommodate pieds-noirs (French settlers from Algeria) and Jews who had left Algeria due to its war of independence. A few Jews from Egypt settled there after the Suez crisis, and Jews from Tunisia and Morocco settled in Sarcelles after unrest and riots against Jews due to the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. Today, Sarcelles is home to a vibrant Jewish community and the largest concentration of Assyrians in France.
Sarcelles is easily accessible by public transport, with two train stations serving the city – Garges–Sarcelles station on Paris RER line D and Sarcelles–Saint-Brice station on the Transilien Paris-Nord suburban rail line. Despite its proximity to Paris, Sarcelles has a unique identity and is not representative of cities across metropolitan France. Residents believe that any ethnic group can be a part of the city, and they believe it lowers levels of crime and violence.
Sarcelles is also known for its lively political scene, with ethnic minorities gaining political power at a faster rate than other parts of France. Many politicians responded to minority demands sooner as many immigrants, especially Caribbeans and Sephardic Jews, had French citizenship. The city’s first ever two Caribbean councillors were elected in 1989, and in the same year, Raymond Lamontagne, the mayor, opened Metropolitan Frances first ever Caribbean-orientated, council-funded community centre. However, some argue that funding groups catering to specific ethnic groups promotes segregation.
Sarcelles is a city with a rich and diverse culture waiting to be discovered. From its unique history to its vibrant population, there’s something for everyone in this hidden gem of a city.