The French suburbs (banlieues) have long been depicted as marginal in French society, both physically and metaphorically, with their populations seen as excluded economically and socially from the French mainstream. Many have felt disenfranchised from French society, either through their status as non-EU nationals without the right to vote in local or national elections, or through the distance they feel from the French political system, reflected in low turn-out rates. Successive governments over the last thirty years have tried to address the challenges of the banlieues, through the so-called Politique de la ville, that is, urban policies focused on disadvantaged neighbourhoods. These policies have taken various shapes over the years, but the majority have, at least on paper, encouraged resident participation in regeneration programmes, promoting participatory democracy in contrast to representative democracy. Drawing on recent empirical work in the Lyon banlieue, this research aims to explore the processes through which these ‘voices of the suburbs’ have been integrated into urban regeneration governance, where banlieue residents have been given the opportunity to voice their opinions on urban regeneration projects. The research sheds light on the potential ambiguities and tensions embedded in participatory processes within a regeneration setting, and questions how far community engagement through participatory democracy does indeed give a voice to the ‘sans voix’ in the banlieue, within the institutional context of representative democracy.