"Research on spatial cognition is limited to the spatial and behavioral dimensions of the legibility of the city. Nevertheless, from a psychological viewpoint, the urban environment is not only the material product of human action. It is also the symbolic product of individual and collective experiences. In other words, the construction of the spatial image is based on meanings. However, meanings depend upon physical, sociological, functional, and use dimensions, because the environment is multidimensional. By reverting to the person/environment model and the transactional theoretical perspective, and by examining the social component, our research has enabled us to understand social legibility and to describe its modes by referring to the cultural component of familiarity with surroundings. Indeed, the city is culturally marked and the individual is a social subject. Thus, by making variations in initial sociospatial familiarity, we were able to verify the following hypothesis: initial sociospatial familiarity influences the structure of the conceptual representation of the city. We opted for quasiexperimentation, choosing Paris, a city imbued with European culture, and questioning foreign students from either Southern Europe (strong initial familiarity) or Sub_Saharan Africa (weak initial familiarity). The "longitudinal-transverse" design allowed the evolution of the representation in the period from arrival to the second year of residence (temporo-spatial familiarity) to be analysed. We found two types of conceptual structure when subjects arrived in Paris: a structure where the use dimension (egocentric representation) predominates when familiarity is weak, and a structure that supports the use dimension as well as the physical, social and functional dimensions (diversified representation) when familiarity is strong. These two structures do not indicate a distinct cognitive process for each cultural group because we observe, at the end of the second year of residence, an evolution of the egocentric representation towards a diversified representation when familiarity is initially weak. Thus, the socio-physical characteristics of surroundings in all their complexity are not legible for all residents. These considerations are accompanied by results concerning the influence of the structure and evolution of conceptual representation on spatial representation and activities undertaken in town."