Long associated with negative images culminating in the violence of the Clichy-sous-Bois riots in 2005, the Parisian banlieues are now increasingly recuperated as the site of renewed encounter with the other and with diversity. Written at the time of the riots, Philippe Vasset’s Un livre blanc forms the case study for this article. Vasset explores apparently empty Parisian spaces that have been ignored or erased from the map. Writing against the gentrification and museumization of the city, he takes the travel writing subgenre of the “récit périurbain” in new directions to suggest a tabula rasa of many of Paris’s iconic monuments, which, he provocatively suggests, would be more beneficially replaced by “friches”. I will first consider the “récit périurbain” as a record of the real and an indictment of Neoliberalism before questioning the notion of shared cultural heritage and then ending with the idea of the text as a substitute repository and living testimony to existence.