The broad stability of income gaps (after transfer payments and before taxes) observed in metropolitan France (mainland + Corsica) between 1984 and 2002 masks significant local divergences. First, outside the Paris region, the gap consistently narrowed between urban clusters on the one hand and peri-urban and rural areas on the other. Second, within these three different types of areas, inequalities seem to move on different paths: their growth is stronger in urban clusters than in peri-urban and rural areas. The catch-up in peri-urban and rural areas is explained statistically by the convergence of three types of spaces (defined in terms of socio-occupational composition) and by the fact that employment-status trends are more favourable for peri-urban and rural households than for urban ones. It is harder to offer a statistical explanation for the contrasting trends in income dispersion within each spatial category. These changes are more subtle and more erratic, and the share assigned to each component depends on the order in which the breakdown is performed. However, there is one robust result: the more inegalitarian trend in urban clusters is partly due to the ever-sharper contrasts in their populations’ socio-occupational composition and employment access.