Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the rural geography has occupied for a long time an essential part in the French geographical tradition. However, after the second world war, and especially during these two decades, its relative importance has decreased considerably. On the other hand, in parallel with this decline of the relative importance, the French rural geography has been changing markedly as to its research themes and methodology. This changing nature of the French rural geography is basically explained by the rapid economic growth of France and thereby drastically changing nature of the rural space during the post-war period. The first half of the twentieth century of France, which was characterized by the almost complete stagnation of demography, was the last period in which the traditional regional structure remained relatively undisturbed. Areal studies of rural space by the French school of geography have flourished under these circumstances.
In recent years, on the contrary, the importance of agriculture in the rural space becomes increasingly small, in proportion as the urbanization is penetrating everywhere into the countryside and the land utilization of the rural space is diversified. Under this condition, the French rural geography, which was once constituted mainly by research works on the “agricultural structure”, is now changing its point of view, emphasizing the analysis of the “rural space”. And the research works which are not conform to the traditional style are increasing. On the other hand, as compared with the traditional works which were mainly articulated upon the “regional” scale, the macro scale analysis and the comparative analysis based upon numerical data have been developing in recent years, using the so-called quantitative techniques. Finally, the rapid transformation of the rural space necessitates the appropriate regional planning, which in turn increases the geographers' concern for the applied geography. The movement from the geography as disinterested culture to the geography as socially relevant discipline is a general tendency of the geography.