Discover the 13 administrative regions of France

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Mainland France comprises of 13 administrative regions which are in turn subdivided into départements. The regions were created by the Law of Decentralisation (2 March 1982) with a legal status. Originally the country was divided in 22 regions before the implementation of a major reorganisation of French regions which was effective from 1 January 2016. Six new regions of France were created from the merger of existing regions while five maintained their existing boundaries. Each of the regions of France display a rich heritage of history and culture.


How to describe the regions of France?

Summer in France

Summer in France: the countryside of Lorraine © French Moments

All the regions of France uphold a stunning variety of landscape and architecture. Their natural landscapes are characterised by mountains, hills, plains and coastal areas.

The climate varies greatly from the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to the plains of the Loire Valley and the holiday resorts of the French Riviera.

Mont Salève © French Moments

The view from the Alps © French Moments

With their specific identities, the regions of France are drenched in tradition. Each province benefits from a distinct culture, gastronomy and sometimes dialect. However it must be pointed out that most of today’s regions of France are more administrative than cultural or historical entities.

Market day in Sarlat-la-Canéda, Périgord © French Moments

Market day in Sarlat-la-Canéda, Périgord © French Moments


The territorial reform introducing new regions

The change in the number of administrative regions in France took effect on 1 January 2016.

Regions of France General Map June 2016 copyright French Moments

The territorial reform was proposed by President François Hollande, and voted by the French Parliament (National Assembly and Senate) in 2014.

The reasons for reducing the number of regions in Metropolitan France from 22 to 13 are:

  • To modernise, simplify administrative procedures
  • To create more powerful regional entities
  • These entities should be capable of carrying out large-scale projects for their citizens.

For the moment the names of the new regions are a combinaison of the names of the former regions.

On the 1st July 2016, new permanent names became official.

The capitals or head cities of the regions were all nominated during the 2nd semester 2015. 

The President of the Regional Council and his/her counsellors were elected in December 2015 with their mandate starting from 1st January 2016.


What are the 13 regions of France?

Here is the list of the 13 regions of France with facts and figures:

Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Regions of France Nouvelle Aquitaine June 2016 copyright French Moments

Includes the former regions of Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes.


Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Regions of France Auvergne Rhône Alpes June 2016 copyright French Moments

Includes the former regions of Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes.

  • Population: 7,695,264 (2012)
  • Area: 69,711 km2
  • Regional capital: Lyon
  • Other main cities: Grenoble, Saint-Étienne, Clermont-Ferrand, Chambéry, Annecy, Valence
  • Number of départements: 13
  • Main sites: Vieux-Lyon, Volcanoes of Auvergne, Mont-Blanc, National Parks of the Vanoise and Écrins, Lake Annecy, Ardèche Gorges

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

Regions of France Bourgogne Franche Comté June 2016 copyright French Moments

Includes the former regions of Bourgogne and Franche-Comté.

  • Population: 2,816,814 (2012)
  • Area: 47,784 km2
  • Regional capital: Dijon
  • Other main cities: Besançon, Montbéliard, Belfort, Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon, Nevers, Auxerre
  • Number of départements: 8
  • Main sites: Historic Centre of Dijon, Vauban Citadel of Besançon, Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans, Alésia, vineyards of Burgundy

Bretagne (Brittany)

Regions of France Bretagne June 2016 copyright French Moments

  • Population: 3,237,097 (2012)
  • Area: 27,208 km2
  • Regional capital: Rennes
  • Other main cities: Brest, Lorient, Vannes, Quimper
  • President of the Regional Council: Jean-Yves Le Drian (Parti Socialiste)
  • Number of départements: 4
  • Main sites: Fortifications of Saint-Malo, Old Towns of Quimper, Dinard, Castles of Vitré and Fougères, Carnac, Quiberon, Belle-Île

Centre-Val-de-Loire

Regions of France Centre Val de Loire June 2016 copyright French Moments

Formerly known as ‘Centre’ until 17 January 2015

  • Population: 2,563,586 (2012)
  • Area: 39,151 km2
  • Regional capital: Orléans
  • Other main cities: Tours, Bourges, Chartres, Blois=
  • Number of départements: 6
  • Main sites: Chateaux of the Loire (Chambord, Amboise, Blois, Villandry, Chenonceau, Ussé, Azay-le-Rideau, Langeais), Gothic cathedrals of Bourges, Chartres, Tours and Orléans

Corse (Corsica)

Regions of France Corse June 2016 copyright French Moments

  • Population: 322,120 (2013)
  • Area: 8,680 km2
  • Regional capital: Ajaccio
  • Other main cities: Bastia
  • Number of départements: 2
  • Main sites: Calanques of Piana, Gulf of Porto, Îles Sanguinaires, Bonifacio, Calvi, Porto-Vecchio

Grand Est

Regions of France Grand Est June 2016 copyright French Moments

New name chosen from 4 options on 4 April 2016 over Acalie / Rhin-Champagne / Nouvelle Austrasie.

Includes the former regions of Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine.


Hauts-de-France

Regions of France Hauts-de-France June 2016 copyright French Moments

[new name chosen on 14 March 2016 over ‘Terres du Nord’ and ‘Nord-de-France’].

Includes the former regions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie. The official name bears the subtitle ‘Nord Pas-de-Calais Picardie”

  • Population: 5,973,098 (2012)
  • Area: 31,813 km2
  • Regional capital: Lille
  • Other main cities: Amiens, Dunkerque, Calais, Saint-Quentin, Beauvais, Valenciennes, Maubeuge, Lens
  • Number of départements: 5
  • Main sites: Belfries of Flanders, Bay of the Somme, Vieux-Lille, Gothic Cathedrals of AmiensBeauvais, Senlis and Laon, Palace of Compiègne, Chantilly CastlePierrefonds Castle, WWI Battlefields of the Somme

Île de France (Paris Region)

Regions of France Ile de France June 2016 copyright French Moments

  • Population: 12,005,077 (2014)
  • Area: 12,012 km2
  • Regional capital: Paris
  • Other main cities: Versailles, Boulogne-Billancourt, Argenteuil, Saint-Denis, Bobigny
  • Number of départements: 8
  • Main sites: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Saint-Denis Basilica, Palace of Versailles, Palace of Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Medieval Town of Provins, Disneyland Paris

Occitanie (Occitania)

Regions of France Occitanie June 2016 copyright French Moments

Includes the former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées.

  • Population: 5,626,858 (2012)
  • Area: 72,724 km2
  • Regional capital: Toulouse
  • Other main cities: Montpellier, Nîmes, Perpignan
  • Number of départements: 13
  • Main sites: Old Towns of Toulouse and AlbiCité de Carcassonne, Aigues-Mortes, Mont Canigou, Canal du Midi, Castles of the Cathars, Rocamadour

Normandie (Normandy)

Regions of France Normandie June 2016 copyright French Moments

Includes the former regions of Basse-Normandie and Haute-Normandie.


Pays de la Loire

Regions of France Pays de la Loire June 2016 copyright French Moments

  • Population: 3,632,614 (2012)
  • Area: 32,082 km2
  • Regional capital: Nantes
  • Other main cities: Angers, Le Mans, Saint-Nazaire
  • Number of départements: 5
  • Main sites: Old Towns of Nantes and Le Mans, Castles of Saumur, Brissac and Angers

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (aka PACA or Région Sud)

Regions of France Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur June 2016 copyright French Moments


The regions of France: fields of action

Glieres Plateau © French Moments

The French flag at the Plateau des Glières (French Alps) © French Moments

The legislative body of a French region is the Regional Council – le Conseil régional. It is led by its President.

A region in France does not have legislative authority. Therefore it cannot write their own statutory law.

However it can levy their own taxes. 

The Regional Councils are involved in several fields of action:

  • economic development: tourism, business development and professional training
  • public transport
  • secondary schools (lycées)
  • environmental issues such as air quality
  • culture – regional arts and culture funding.

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Discover the regions of France © French Moments


 

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

3 Comments

  1. Hi, love the info you have here, especially with tourism ideas.
    I was using it to show my French class the different regions. I’m wondering why Corsica and le Grand Est are not included in your maps and information. Is this a work in progress?
    I’m looking forward to having a good wander around your pages 🙂

    • Bonjour Catherine,
      Thank you so much for your feedback. I went back to our article and discovered that the content for the two regions (Corsica and Grand Est) was hidden because of a piece of html code missing. It should be back to normal now.
      Also I intend to create a full coverage on each region once they will all have their official name – a few regions are still deciding which name to choose and the deadline is set at the end of June 2016. Thank you again for pointing out this issue and have a great day!

  2. Merci beaucoup!
    I did know about the wait for official names. It has been interesting finding out about these changes. And good for my class – although I’m sure they don’t think so! 🙂

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