In the French countryside there are two types of habitats: agglomerated habitat in villages and scattered habitat. The former predominates throughout the NE. of France, the other throughout the O.: its delimitation line can be traced, starting from the Pays de Bray, crossing the Seine upstream of Rouen, leaving the Perche to the west and passing the Loire between Orléans and Blois.
According to TRACKAAH.COM, this diversity of population may have originated from various causes. In any case, it should be noted that isolated farmhouses and small clusters of houses are found mainly in oceanic regions, with a more humid climate and generally impermeable soil, and with large copies of springs and streams (Armorican Massif and nearby clayey regions) ; while the villages are located on the limestone plateaus of the Isle of France, on the clays of Picardy and Champagne and on the côtes of Lorraine, where deep wells must often be dug to ensure the supply of water. However, in the Parisian Basin there are quite humid valleys and springs due to the emergence of impermeable layers.
No doubt the scattered habitat and the agglomerated habitat correspond to quite different conditions of use of the land. At least since the Gallo-Roman era, in the villages of the eastern and central part of the Parisian Basin the three-year rotation has been in use, with the cultivated land divided into soles and with the obligation made to all to observe the rotation; there are no closed plots, but open fields, which have the typical appearance of the plaine; the cultivation of cereals occupies the first place and the breeding was once done on the municipal pastures. In the Armorican Massif, on the other hand, especially in Brittany, the isolated farmhouse is located in the middle of its lands, the treatment of which is free from any obligation; the plots are closed, and the roads themselves are lined with earth ridges with trees, hence the characteristic appearance of the bocage. In ancient times each farm produced everything it needed: cereals, vegetables, chickens and livestock; the latter is grazed by each in his own enclosed meadow. While the small farmer’s estate was formed early in the plaines regions, the large estate dominated and still partly dominates in the bocage regions. Ethnic customs, attached by some to explain the diversity of the rural habitat, may not have been foreign to it. The agglomerated habitat perhaps spread to the west following the Germanic invasions. Thus it is known that in Lorraine there was a tendency to concentration in the most agitated periods of the Middle Ages; while the quiet periods for the most part gave rise to vast farms in the agglomerated habitat regions in the midst of large estates, of which they freely concentrated and organized the cultivation; this happens in the center of the Parisian Basin (Beauce, Brie).
In the Massif Central the appearance of the bocage generally predominates, with the exception of some inland plains, such as the Limagne. But alongside the isolated farmhouses there are, in all fairly populated regions, villages, which often welcome more than ⅔ of the population of the municipality. The scattered houses are mainly on the hills. Also in Aquitaine the appearance of bocage predominatesin the clayey-sandy molasses; but there is always a nucleus of agglomerated villages. The concentration, then, predominates in the richer parts (valley of the Garonne). In the Alps the rule is constituted by agglomeration, although mostly small groups of houses: the isolated houses that are seen scattered on the slopes are temporary dwellings, occupied in the summer months. The whole of Mediterranean France is a country of villages (lower Provence and Languedoc), where the influence of the environment is felt together with that of the race.