In France rural development is not only about agriculture, it is also about services, about innovations. France have had an high metropolisation: in the 70s 70% of the population was rural. Now it is going the other way round, 70% is in urban surroudings and 30% in rural areas. This impact can be seen in the agriculture sector: there was around 4.5millions farms in the 70s, there is 500 000 left now.


One of  the most interesting phenomenon is that nowadays, people having lived in the cities are coming back to the country for its quality of life and are creating new activities in rural areas. This is an high source of innovation, of dynamism and openness.

RURAL REGION Basse-Normandie


Basse-Normandie is a region of 1 400 000 inhabitants next to Britanny. It is mostly a rural area, and young people are mostly not staying there to spend the rest of their lives. Main economical activities are linked with agriculture, fishing, nuclear industry and tourism.


Urban centralised policies are often not taking in account rural areas problematics. On a regional scale, reforms are mostly settled for urban areas, rural  world is minored. For example with urbanism and planing laws, it is more and more difficult to build in small villages, so that public services disapear, for example for health.

There is also a lot of dwellings in vacancy in the center of villages. Appartments stay empty. This leads to a problem of habitat and local development : the local businesses close; to a problem of urbanism : agricultural fields disapear although there are vacancy for inhabitants; to a problem of energy : these habitats need retrofitting.



Les 7 Vents' premises are in Coutances, between Cherbourg and le Mont Saint Michel, between seaside and countryside, mostly surrounded by hedges. Les 7 Vents is a utility cooperative that deals with energy, climate and sustainable development. We gather bodies and individuals around a non-profit goal. Our members and partners perform daily together in creating a sustainable framework to the development of sustainable systems, that can be from micro-economics to heating systems.


Les 7 Vents is at the service of companies, public bodies and individuals. They acknowledge us thanks to the actions we are managing daily:

  • Each year, the team provides independent, objective advice to about 1,500 citizens as Espace Info Energie (public advice place for free energy advice).
  • During its 15 years of existence, more than 200 studies and supports were provided to businesses and communities through our design and consultancy office.
  • In Lower Normandy, an Ecosite, a local energy agency and other European projects are among the innovative pilot projects we developed. We have grouped these activities under the name of innovation lab.


Project 1 : Territorial marketing / profiling and branding

There is a study in course for the problematic of empty village centers. The main questions we want to answer are :

  • What are the best conditions to provide for people to move in ?
  • Which type of people (not families, but elderly, young people that go out from their parents) ?
  • What are the brakes avoiding people to rent/buy/retrofit these houses ?

Main partners : local authorities (Regional Natural Park - 74 000 inhabitants,  Community of Communes Sèves Taute - 5 754 inhabitants, Village of Périers - 2400 inhabitants), social housing provider (H&D).

Project 2 : Good governance / citizen participation

A local authority is building a citizen council and is looking for ways and projects to animate it.

Main partners : Local authority (Pays de Coutances - 71 251 inhabitants)


Project 3 : SME empowerment

Dynamic SMEs are providing goods and services for sustainable development in our rural area. They need some support ! les 7 Vents are linked with rural SMEs that create new activities : TikEco : organic food distribution in rural area with NTIC, JALONS : networks of cooperatives of good sense, Batiment d’avenir : nursery, incubator for builders / retrofitters with local materials / techniques.

Main partners : SMEs

Project 4 : Communities

Several activities are lead by les 7 Vents with communities, such as :

  • Positive energy families : a peer to peer approach to energy savings. Groups of families are chalenging each other in order to apply the more every day measures to save energy
  • Renewable energy citizen projects : renewable energy projects lead and funded by citizens
  • RENO 3.0 : a participative approach to a demonstrative building (retrofitting, place sharing, living lab)

Other insights of community development are welcome!

Main partners : (depending on the project) Citizens, SMEs, Public authorities