Excellent piece by Clare Foran for The Atlantic Cities. She took a job as an English teacher in Val-de-Reuil, a city in Normandy, northwest of Paris. 

As one of France’s New Towns, Val-de-Reuil was supposed to solve many problems and be the pinnacle of urban planning. 

The city instead looks dull and stark. But what went wrong? 

To start, the city’s concentration of low-income housing has created a weak tax base incapable of adequately supporting the local school system or funding much-needed infrastructure projects. Another problem is that many of the available jobs are not matched to the skill set of the local workforce. A number of big name pharmaceutical companies have laboratories in Val-de-Reuil, including Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi Pasteur. But most residents lack the education or technical training needed to qualify for the positions doled out by these employers. 

The whole article is a good read.