In France, an experiment of participatory governance set up in a small Southern town attracted many among those who discuss alternatives to representative democracy and political innovations. In 2014, some inhabitants of this town decided to create a ‘participatory and collegial list’ and to run as a single candidate for the municipal election. According to their criticism of the incumbent mayor, they proposed to establish a renewed governance of the town, based on extended public participation and the reshaping of traditional representative bodies (open and collegial municipal council, municipal commissions). Following their narrow victory, they kept their promise, offering renewed ‘participatory governance’ to their constituents, based on power-sharing and a sophisticated participatory decision-making process. After a few years of experimentation, a crucial issue remains: does participatory governance encourage inhabitants to participate? Based on a survey of the inhabitants’ perceptions and judgments, we propose to study the gap between general support and active participation in the population. Our main result shows the persistence of political representative institutions in citizens’ attitudes: if participatory governance, as a proposal, gets citizens’ support and helps win elections, its implementation does not massively turn voters into active participants. Thus, even in reshaped political and innovating representation, citizens find it difficult to go beyond distant support. This empirical fact opens a fruitful discussion on the social ‘anchoring’ of political innovations.