Departments of France

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In the administrative divisions of France, the department (French : département, pronounced  [depaʁt(ə)mɑ̃] ) is one of the three levels of government below the national level ("territorial collectivities"), between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; the last two have no autonomy, and are used for the organisation of police, fire departments, and sometimes, elections.

Administrative divisions of France Class grouping all types of territorial divisions of France (administrative or electoral)

The administrative divisions of France are concerned with the institutional and territorial organization of French territory. These territories are located in many parts of the world. There are many administrative divisions, which may have political, electoral (districts), or administrative objectives. All the inhabited territories are represented in the National Assembly, Senate and Economic and Social Council and their citizens have French citizenship.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

A territorial collectivity is a chartered subdivision of France, with recognized governing authority. It is the generic name for any subdivision with an elective form of local government and local regulatory authority. The nature of a French territorial collectivity is set forth in Article 72 of the French constitution of 1958, which provides for local autonomy within limits prescribed by law.


Each department is administered by an elected body called a departmental council (conseil départemental [sing.], conseils départementaux [plur.]). From 1800 to April 2015, these were called general councils (conseil général [sing.], conseils généraux [plur.]). [1] Each council has a president. Their main areas of responsibility include the management of a number of social and welfare allowances, of junior high school (collège) buildings and technical staff, and local roads and school and rural buses, and a contribution to municipal infrastructures. Local services of the state administration are traditionally organised at departmental level, where the prefect represents the government; however, regions have gained importance in this regard since the 2000s, with some department-level services merged into region-level services.

Prefect (France) French states representative in a department or region

A prefect in France is the State's representative in a department or region. Sub-prefects are responsible for the subdivisions of departments, arrondissements. The office of a prefect is known as a prefecture and that of a sub-prefect as a subprefecture.

The departments were created in 1790 as a rational replacement of Ancien Régime provinces with a view to strengthen national unity; the title "department" is used to mean a part of a larger whole. Almost all of them were named after physical geographical features (rivers, mountains, or coasts), rather than after historical or cultural territories which could have their own loyalties. The division of France into departments was a project particularly identified with the French revolutionary leader the Abbé Sieyès, although it had already been frequently discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers. The earliest known suggestion of it is from 1764 in the writings of d'Argenson. They have inspired similar divisions in many countries, some of them former French colonies.

Ancien Régime monarchic, aristocratic, social and political system established in the Kingdom of France from approximately the 15th century until the later 18th century

The Ancien Régime was the political and social system of the Kingdom of France from the Late Middle Ages until 1789, when hereditary monarchy and the feudal system of French nobility were abolished by the French Revolution. The Ancien Régime was ruled by the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties. The term is occasionally used to refer to the similar feudal systems of the time elsewhere in Europe. The administrative and social structures of the Ancien Régime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts, internal conflicts, and civil wars, but they remained and the Valois Dynasty's attempts at re-establishing control over the scattered political centres of the country were hindered by the Huguenot Wars. Much of the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIII and the early years of Louis XIV were focused on administrative centralization. Despite, however, the notion of "absolute monarchy" and the efforts by the kings to create a centralized state, the Kingdom of France retained its irregularities: authority regularly overlapped and nobles struggled to retain autonomy.

The Kingdom of France was organized into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the department system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England. They came into their final form over the course of many hundreds of years, as many dozens of semi-independent fiefs and former independent countries came to be incorporated into the French royal domain. Because of the haphazard manner in which the provinces evolved, each had its own sets of feudal traditions, laws, taxation systems, courts, etc., and the system represented an impediment to effective administration of the entire country from Paris. During the early years of the French Revolution, in an attempt to centralize the administration of the whole country, and to remove the influence of the French nobility over the country, the entirety of the province system was abolished and replaced by the system of departments in use today.

René Louis de Voyer de Paulmy dArgenson French statesman

René-Louis de Voyer de Paulmy, Marquis d'Argenson was a French statesman.

Most French departments are assigned a two-digit number, the "Official Geographical Code", allocated by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques . Overseas departments have a three-digit number. The number is used, for example, in the postal code, and was until recently used for all vehicle registration plates. While residents commonly use the numbers to refer to their own department or a neighbouring one, more distant departments are generally referred to by their names, as few people know the numbers of all the departments. For example, inhabitants of Loiret might refer to their department as "the 45".

The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, abbreviated INSEE, is the national statistics bureau of France. It collects and publishes information about the French economy and people and carries out the periodic national census. Headquartered in Paris, it is the French branch of Eurostat. The INSEE was created in 1946 as a successor to the Vichy regime's National Statistics Service (SNS). It works in close cooperation with the Institut national d'études démographiques (INED).

Postal codes were introduced in France in 1964, when La Poste introduced automated sorting. They were updated to use the current 5 digit system in 1972.

Vehicle registration plates are mandatory number plates used to display the registration mark of a vehicle registered in France. They have existed in the country since 1901. It is compulsory for most motor vehicles used on public roads to display them.

In 2014, President François Hollande proposed to abolish departmental councils by 2020, which would have maintained the departments as administrative divisions, and to transfer their powers to other levels of governance. This reform project has since been abandoned.

François Hollande 24th President of the French Republic

François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande is a French politician who served as President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra from 2012 to 2017. He was previously the First Secretary of the Socialist Party from 1997 to 2008, Mayor of Tulle from 2001 to 2008, and President of the Corrèze General Council from 2008 to 2012. Hollande also served in the National Assembly of France twice for the department of Corrèze's 1st constituency from 1988 to 1993, and again from 1997 to 2012.


The 101 departments of France, prior to the 2018 merger of Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse France maximale.svg
The 101 departments of France, prior to the 2018 merger of Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse
Geometrical proposition rejected ChassisFiguratif.jpg
Geometrical proposition rejected
French provinces (color) and
departments (black borders) in 1791 Departements et provinces de France.svg
French provinces (color) and
departments (black borders) in 1791

The first French territorial departments were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson to serve as administrative areas purely for the Ponts et Chaussées (Bridges and Highways) infrastructure administration. [2]

Marc-René de Voyer de Paulmy d'Argenson, seigneur d'Argenson et de Vueil-le-Mesnil, comte de Rouffiac, was a French knight, politician and diplomat.

The Conseil général des Ponts et Chaussées is one of the oldest institutions in France and the direct heir of the assembly of inspectors general of bridges and roads, which met regularly from 1747 under Daniel-Charles Trudaine. The Conseil was set up on 25 August 1804 by decree.

Before the French Revolution, France gained territory gradually through the annexation of a mosaic of independent entities. By the close of the Ancien Régime, it was organised into provinces. During the period of the Revolution, these were dissolved, partly in order to weaken old loyalties.

The modern departments, as all-purpose units of the government, were created on 4 March 1790 by the National Constituent Assembly to replace the provinces with what the Assembly deemed a more rational structure. Their boundaries served two purposes:

Departments at the maximum extent of the First French Empire (1812) France L-2 (1812)-fr.svg
Departments at the maximum extent of the First French Empire (1812)

The old nomenclature was carefully avoided in naming the new departments. Most were named after an area's principal river or other physical features. Even Paris was in the department of Seine. Savoy became the department of Mont-Blanc. [3]

The number of departments, initially 83, had been increased to 130 by 1809 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of the First French Empire. [4] Following Napoleon's defeats in 1814–1815, the Congress of Vienna returned France to its pre-war size and the number of departments was reduced to 86 (three of the original departments having been split). In 1860, France acquired the County of Nice and Savoy, which led to the creation of three new departments. Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of Alpes-Maritimes was created from Nice and a portion of the Var department. The 89 departments were given numbers based on the alphabetical order of their names.

The department of Bas-Rhin and parts of Meurthe, Moselle, Vosges and Haut-Rhin were ceded to the German Empire in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. A small part of Haut-Rhin however remained French and became known as the Territoire de Belfort; the remaining parts of Meurthe and Moselle were merged into a new Meurthe-et-Moselle department. When France regained the ceded departments after World War I, the Territoire de Belfort was not re-integrated into Haut-Rhin. In 1922, it became France's 90th department. Likewise, the Lorraine departments were not changed back to their original boundaries, and a new Moselle department was created in the regained territory, with slightly different boundaries from the pre-war department of the same name.

The re-organisation of Île-de-France in 1968 and the division of Corsica in 1975 added six more departments, raising the total in Metropolitan France to 96. By 2011, when the overseas collectivity of Mayotte became a department, joining the earlier overseas departments of the Republic (all created in 1946) – French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion – the total number of departments in the French Republic had become 101. In 2015, the Urban Community of Lyon was split from Rhône to form the Métropole de Lyon, a sui generis entity, with the powers of both an intercommunality and those of a department on its territory, formally classified as a "territorial collectivity with particular status" (French : collectivité territoriale à statut particulier) and as such not belonging to any department. In 2018, the two departments of Corsica re-merged to form a single territorial collectivity (simultaneously region and department), reducing the number of departments to 100.

General characteristics

Government and administration

Administrative divisions of France Administration territoriale francaise.svg
Administrative divisions of France

The departmental seat of government is known as the prefecture (préfecture) or chef-lieu de département and is generally a town of some importance roughly at the geographical centre of the department. This was determined according to the time taken to travel on horseback from the periphery of the department. The goal was for the prefecture to be accessible on horseback from any town in the department within 24 hours. The prefecture is not necessarily the largest city in the department: for instance, in Saône-et-Loire department the capital is Mâcon, but the largest city is Chalon-sur-Saône. Departments may be divided into arrondissements. The capital of an arrondissement is called a subprefecture (sous-préfecture) or chef-lieu d'arrondissement.

Each department is administered by a departmental council (conseil départemental), an assembly elected for six years by universal suffrage, with the President of the Departmental Council as executive of the department. Before 1982, the chief executive of the department was the prefect (préfet), who represents the Government of France in each department and is appointed by the President of the French Republic. The prefect is assisted by one or more sub-prefects (sous-préfet) based in the subprefectures of the department. Since 1982, the prefect retains only the powers that are not delegated to the department councils. In practice, his role has been largely limited to preventing local policy from conflicting with national policy.

The departments are further divided into communes, governed by municipal councils. As of 2013, there were 36,681 communes in France. In the overseas territories, some communes play a role at departmental level. Paris, the country's capital city, is a commune as well as a department.

Population density in the departments (2007), showing the northeast to southwest empty diagonal Carte demographique de la France.svg
Population density in the departments (2007), showing the northeast to southwest empty diagonal

In continental France (metropolitan France, excluding Corsica), the median land area of a department is 5,965 km2 (2,303 sq mi), which is two-and-a-half times the median land area of the ceremonial counties of England and the preserved counties of Wales and slightly more than three-and-half times the median land area of a county of the United States. At the 2001 census, the median population of a department in continental France was 511,012 inhabitants, which is 21 times the median population of a United States county, but less than two-thirds of the median population of a ceremonial county of England and Wales. Most of the departments have an area of between 4,000 and 8,000 km², and a population between 320,000 and 1 million. The largest in area is Gironde (10,000 km²), while the smallest is the city of Paris (105 km²). The most populous is Nord (2,550,000) and the least populous is Lozère (74,000).


The departments are numbered: their two-digit numbers appear in postal codes, in INSEE codes (including "social security numbers") and on vehicle number plates. Initially, the numbers corresponded to the alphabetical order of the names of the departments, but several changed their names, so the correspondence became less exact. There is no number 20, but 2A and 2B instead, for Corsica. Corsican postal codes for addresses in both departments do still start with 20. The two-digit code "98" is used by Monaco. Together with the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code FR, the numbers form the ISO 3166-2 country subdivision codes for the metropolitan departments. The overseas departments get three digits.

Relation to national government

Originally, the relationship between the departments and the central government was left somewhat ambiguous. While citizens in each department elected their own officials, the local governments were subordinated to the central government, becoming instruments of national integration. By 1793, however, the revolutionary government had turned the departments into transmission belts for policies enacted in Paris. With few exceptions, the departments had this role until the early 1960s.

Party political preferences

These maps cannot be used as a useful resource of voter preferences, because Departmental Councils are elected on a two-round system, which drastically limits the chances of fringe parties, if they are not supported on one of the two rounds by a moderate party. After the 1992 election, the left had a majority in only 21 of the 100 departments; after the 2011 election, the left dominated 61 of the 100 departments. (Mayotte only became a department after the election.)

Key to the parties:


The removal of one or more levels of local government has been discussed for some years; in particular, the option of removing the departmental level. Frédéric Lefebvre, spokesman for the UMP, said in December 2008 that the fusion of the departments with the regions was a matter to be dealt with soon. This was soon refuted by Édouard Balladur and Gérard Longuet, members of the Committee for the reform of local authorities, known as the Balladur Committee. [5]

In January 2008, the Attali Commission recommended that the departmental level of government should be eliminated within ten years. [6]

Nevertheless, the Balladur Committee has not retained this proposition and does not advocate the disappearance of the departments, but simply "favors the voluntary grouping of departments", which it suggests also for the regions, with the aim of reducing the number of regions to 15. [7] This committee advocates, on the contrary, the suppression of the cantons. [7]

Maps and tables

Current departments

Each department has a coat of arms with which it is commonly associated, though not all are officially recognized or used.

INSEE code Arms 1 DepartmentPrefectureRegionNamed after
01 Blason departement fr Ain.svg Ain Bourg-en-Bresse Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Ain (river)
02 Blason departement fr Aisne.svg Aisne Laon Proposed design for a flag of Hauts-de-France.svg  Hauts-de-France Aisne (river)
03 Blason dpt fr Allier.svg Allier Moulins Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Allier (river)
04 Blason departement Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.svg Alpes-de-Haute-Provence 2 Digne-les-Bains Flag of Provence-Alpes-Cote dAzur.svg  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Alps mountains and Provence region
05 Blason dpt fr HautesAlpes.svg Hautes-Alpes Gap Flag of Provence-Alpes-Cote dAzur.svg  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Alps mountains
06 Nice Arms.svg Alpes-Maritimes Nice Flag of Provence-Alpes-Cote dAzur.svg  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Alps mountains
07 Blason dpt fr Ardeche.svg Ardèche Privas Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Ardèche (river)
08 Blason departement fr Ardennes.svg Ardennes Charleville-Mézières Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Ardennes Forest
09 Blason dpt fr Ariege.svg Ariège Foix Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Ariège (river)
10 Blason departement fr Aube.svg Aube Troyes Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Aube (river)
11 Blason dpt fr Aude.svg Aude Carcassonne Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Aude (river)
12 Blason Rouergue.svg Aveyron Rodez Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Aveyron (river)
13 Blason departement Bouches-du-Rhone.svg Bouches-du-Rhône Marseille Flag of Provence-Alpes-Cote dAzur.svg  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Rhône (river)
14 Blason departement fr Calvados.svg Calvados Caen Flag of Normandie.svg  Normandy Calvados rocks
15 Blason dpt fr Cantal.svg Cantal Aurillac Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Mounts of Cantal
16 Blason departement fr Charente.svg Charente Angoulême Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Charente (river)
17 Blason departement fr Charente-Maritime.svg Charente-Maritime 3 La Rochelle Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Charente (river)
18 Blason dpt fr Cher.svg Cher Bourges Flag of Centre-Val de Loire.svg  Centre-Val de Loire Cher (river)
19 Blason departement fr Correze.svg Corrèze Tulle Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Corrèze (river)
20 Blason de Corse.svg Corse 19 Ajaccio Flag of Corsica.svg  Corsica Island of Corsica
21 Blason departement fr Cote-d'Or.svg Côte-d'Or Dijon Flag of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.svg  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Poetic sight of the Burgundy vineyards
22 Blason departement fr Cotes-d'Armor.svg Côtes-d'Armor 4 Saint-Brieuc Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg Brittany coasts of Armorica
23 Blason Boubon-La Marche.svg Creuse Guéret Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Creuse (river)
24 Blason Dordogne 1.svg Dordogne Périgueux Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Dordogne (river)
25 Blason departement fr Doubs.svg Doubs Besançon Flag of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.svg  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Doubs (river)
26 Blason departement Drome.svg Drôme Valence Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Drôme (river)
27 Blason departement fr Eure.svg Eure Évreux Flag of Normandie.svg  Normandy Eure (river)
28 Blason departement fr Eure-et-Loir.svg Eure-et-Loir Chartres Flag of Centre-Val de Loire.svg  Centre-Val de Loire Eure and Loir rivers
29 Blason departement fr Finistere.svg Finistère Quimper Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg Brittany Finis Terræ (end of earth)
30 Blason departement fr Gard.svg Gard Nîmes Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Gardon (river)
31 Blason departement fr Haute-Garonne.svg Haute-Garonne Toulouse Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Garonne (river)
32 Blason dpt fr Gers.svg Gers Auch Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Gers (river)
33 Blason departement fr Gironde.svg Gironde 5 Bordeaux Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Gironde (river)
34 Blason departement fr Herault.svg Hérault Montpellier Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Hérault (river)
35 Blason departement Ille-et-Vilaine.svg Ille-et-Vilaine Rennes Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg Brittany Ille and Vilaine rivers
36 Blason departement fr Indre.svg Indre Châteauroux Flag of Centre-Val de Loire.svg  Centre-Val de Loire Indre (river)
37 Blason departement fr Indre-et-Loire.svg Indre-et-Loire Tours Flag of Centre-Val de Loire.svg  Centre-Val de Loire Indre and Loire rivers
38 Blason departement Isere.svg Isère Grenoble Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Isère (river)
39 Blason departement fr Jura.svg Jura Lons-le-Saunier Flag of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.svg  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Jura Mountains
40 Blason dpt fr Landes.svg Landes Mont-de-Marsan Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Landes forest
41 Blason departement fr Loir-et-Cher.svg Loir-et-Cher Blois Flag of Centre-Val de Loire.svg  Centre-Val de Loire Loir and Cher rivers
42 Blason departement Loire.svg Loire Saint-Étienne Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Loire (river)
43 Blason dpt fr Haute-Loire.svg Haute-Loire Le Puy-en-Velay Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Loire (river)
44 Blason dpt fr LoireAtlantique dapres Robert Louis.svg Loire-Atlantique 6 Nantes Pays-de-la-Loire flag.svg  Pays de la Loire Loire (river)
45 Blason departement fr Loiret.svg Loiret Orléans Flag of Centre-Val de Loire.svg  Centre-Val de Loire Loiret (river)
46 Blason departement fr Lot.svg Lot Cahors Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Lot (river)
47 Blason departement fr Lot-et-Garonne.svg Lot-et-Garonne Agen Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Lot and Garonne rivers
48 Blason departement fr Lozere.svg Lozère Mende Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Mont Lozère
49 Blason departement Maine-et-Loire.svg Maine-et-Loire 7 Angers Pays-de-la-Loire flag.svg  Pays de la Loire Maine and Loire rivers
50 Blason departement fr Manche.svg Manche Saint-Lô Flag of Normandie.svg  Normandy English Channel
51 Blason departement Marne.svg Marne Châlons-en-Champagne Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Marne (river)
52 Blason departement fr Haute-Marne.svg Haute-Marne Chaumont Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Marne (river)
53 Blason departement fr Mayenne.svg Mayenne Laval Pays-de-la-Loire flag.svg  Pays de la Loire Mayenne (river)
54 Blason Meurthe-et-Moselle.svg Meurthe-et-Moselle Nancy Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Meurthe and Moselle rivers
55 Blason Meuse.svg Meuse Bar-le-Duc Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Meuse (river)
56 Blason departement Morbihan.svg Morbihan Vannes Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg Brittany Gulf of Morbihan
57 Blason Moselle.svg Moselle Metz Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Moselle (river)
58 Blason dpt fr Nievre.svg Nièvre Nevers Flag of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.svg  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Nièvre (river)
59 Blason Nord-Pas-De-Calais.svg Nord Lille Proposed design for a flag of Hauts-de-France.svg  Hauts-de-France North
60 Blason departement fr Oise.svg Oise Beauvais Proposed design for a flag of Hauts-de-France.svg  Hauts-de-France Oise (river)
61 Blason departement fr Orne.svg Orne Alençon Flag of Normandie.svg  Normandy Orne (river)
62 Pas de Calais Arms.svg Pas-de-Calais Arras Proposed design for a flag of Hauts-de-France.svg  Hauts-de-France Strait of Dover
63 Blason dpt fr Puy-de-Dome.svg Puy-de-Dôme Clermont-Ferrand Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Puy de Dôme volcano
64 Blason des Pyrenees-Atlantiques.svg Pyrénées-Atlantiques 8 Pau Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Pyrenees
65 Blason dpt fr HautesPyrenees.svg Hautes-Pyrénées Tarbes Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Pyrenees
66 Arms of the Pyrenees-Orientales.svg Pyrénées-Orientales Perpignan Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Pyrenees
67 Blason Bas Rhin.svg Bas-Rhin Strasbourg Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Rhine (river)
68 Blason Haut Rhin.svg Haut-Rhin Colmar Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Rhine (river)
69 Blason dpt fr Rhone.svg Rhône Lyon (provisional)Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Rhône (river)
69M Blason Ville fr Lyon.svg Lyon Metropolis 18 Lyon Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes commune of Lyon
70 Blason dpt fr Haute-Saone.svg Haute-Saône Vesoul Flag of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.svg  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Saône (river)
71 Blason departement fr Saone-et-Loire.svg Saône-et-Loire Mâcon Flag of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.svg  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Saône and Loire rivers
72 Blason dpt fr Sarthe.svg Sarthe Le Mans Pays-de-la-Loire flag.svg  Pays de la Loire Sarthe (river)
73 Savoie Blason.svg Savoie Chambéry Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Savoy
74 Haute Savoie blason.svg Haute-Savoie Annecy Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes.svg  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Savoy
75 Blason paris 75.svg Paris 9 Paris Ile-de-France flag.svg  Île-de-France commune of Paris
76 Blason76.svg Seine-Maritime 10 Rouen Flag of Normandie.svg  Normandy Seine (river)
77 Blason departement fr Seine-et-Marne.svg Seine-et-Marne Melun Ile-de-France flag.svg  Île-de-France Seine and Marne rivers
78 Blason departement fr Yvelines.svg Yvelines 11 Versailles Ile-de-France flag.svg  Île-de-France Forest of Yvelines
79 Blason departement fr Deux-Sevres.svg Deux-Sèvres Niort Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Sèvre Nantaise and Sèvre Niortaise rivers
80 Blason departement fr Somme.svg Somme Amiens Proposed design for a flag of Hauts-de-France.svg  Hauts-de-France Somme (river)
81 Blason dpt fr Tarn.svg Tarn Albi Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Tarn (river)
82 Blason departement fr Tarn-et-Garonne.svg Tarn-et-Garonne Montauban Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg  Occitanie Tarn and Garonne rivers
83 Blason departement Var.svg Var Toulon Flag of Provence-Alpes-Cote dAzur.svg  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Var (river)
84 Blason departement fr Vaucluse.svg Vaucluse Avignon Flag of Provence-Alpes-Cote dAzur.svg  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Fontaine de Vaucluse spring
85 Blason dpt fr 85 Vendee.svg Vendée La Roche-sur-Yon Pays-de-la-Loire flag.svg  Pays de la Loire Vendée (river)
86 Blason departement fr Vienne.svg Vienne Poitiers Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Vienne (river)
87 Blason departement Haute-Vienne.svg Haute-Vienne Limoges Flag Nouvelle Aquitaine.svg  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Vienne (river)
88 Blason Vosges.svg Vosges Épinal Proposed design for a flag of Grand Est.svg  Grand Est Vosges Mountains
89 Blason departement fr Yonne.svg Yonne Auxerre Flag of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.svg  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Yonne (river)
90 Blason departement fr Territoire de Belfort.svg Territoire de Belfort Belfort Flag of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comte.svg  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté commune of Belfort
91 Blason departement fr Essonne.svg Essonne 12 Évry Ile-de-France flag.svg  Île-de-France Essonne (river)
92 Blason departement fr Hauts-de-Seine.svg Hauts-de-Seine 13 Nanterre Ile-de-France flag.svg  Île-de-France Seine (river)
93 Blason departement fr Seine-Saint-Denis.svg Seine-Saint-Denis 14 Bobigny Ile-de-France flag.svg  Île-de-France Seine (river)
94 Blason departement fr Val-de-Marne.svg Val-de-Marne Créteil Ile-de-France flag.svg  Île-de-France Marne (river)
95 Blason departement fr Val-d'Oise.svg Val-d'Oise Pontoise 15 Ile-de-France flag.svg  Île-de-France Oise (river)
971 Coat of arms of Guadeloupe.svg Guadeloupe 16 Basse-Terre Flag of Guadeloupe (local).svg  Guadeloupe Island of Guadeloupe
972 Coat of arms of Martinique.svg Martinique 16 Fort-de-France Snake Flag of Martinique.svg  Martinique Island of Martinique
973 Blason de la Guyane.svg Guyane 16 Cayenne Flag of French Guiana.svg  French Guiana The Guianas
974 Blason Reunion DOM.svg La Réunion 16 Saint-Denis Proposed flag of Reunion (VAR).svg  Réunion Island of Réunion
976 Coat of Arms of Mayotte.svg Mayotte 17 Mamoudzou Flag of Mayotte (local).svg  Mayotte Island of Mayotte


  • ^1 Most of the coats of arms are not official
  • ^2 This department was known as Basses-Alpes ("Lower Alps") until 1970
  • ^3 This department was known as Charente-Inférieure ("Lower Charente") until 1941
  • ^4 This department was known as Côtes-du-Nord ("Coasts of the North") until 1990
  • ^5 This department was known as Bec-d'Ambès ("Beak of Ambès") from 1793 until 1795. The Convention eliminated the name to avoid recalling the outlawed Girondin political faction.
  • ^6 This department was known as Loire-Inférieure ("Lower Loire") until 1957
  • ^7 This department was known as Mayenne-et-Loire ("Mayenne and Loire") until 1791
  • ^8 This department was known as Basses-Pyrénées ("Lower Pyrenees") until 1969
  • ^9 Number 75 was formerly assigned to Seine
  • ^10 This department was known as Seine-Inférieure ("Lower Seine") until 1955
  • ^11 Number 78 was formerly assigned to Seine-et-Oise
  • ^12 Number 91 was formerly assigned to Alger, in French Algeria
  • ^13 Number 92 was formerly assigned to Oran, in French Algeria
  • ^14 Number 93 was formerly assigned to Constantine, in French Algeria
  • ^15 The prefecture of Val-d'Oise was established in Pontoise when the department was created, but moved de facto to the neighbouring commune of Cergy; currently, both part of the ville nouvelle of Cergy-Pontoise
  • ^16 The overseas departments each constitute a region and enjoy a status identical to metropolitan France. They are part of France and the European Union, though special EU rules apply to them.
  • ^17 Mayotte became the 101st department of France on 31 March 2011. The INSEE code of Mayotte is 976 (975 is already assigned to the French overseas collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon)
  • ^18 Metropoles with territorial collectivity statute.
  • ^19 Divided into two departments (Golo and Liamone) from 1793 to 1811, and again into two departments (Corse-du-Sud, number 2A, and Haute-Corse, number 2B) from 1975 to 2018.

Regions and departments of metropolitan France; the numbers are those of the first column Departements de France English.svg
Regions and departments of metropolitan France; the numbers are those of the first column
The departments in the immediate vicinity of Paris; the numbers are those of the first column Petite couronne-2.svg
The departments in the immediate vicinity of Paris; the numbers are those of the first column

Former departments

Former departments of the current territory of France

DepartmentPrefectureDates in existence
Rhône-et-Loire Lyon 1790–1793Split into Rhône and Loire on 12 August 1793.
Corsica Bastia 1790–1793Split into Golo and Liamone.
Golo Bastia 1793–1811Reunited with Liamone into Corsica.
Liamone Ajaccio 1793–1811Reunited with Golo into Corsica.
Mont-Blanc Chambéry 1792–1815Formed from part of the Duchy of Savoy, a territory of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia and was restored to Piedmont-Sardinia after Napoleon's defeat. The department corresponds approximately with the present French departments Savoie and Haute-Savoie.
Léman Geneva 1798–1814Formed when the Republic of Geneva was annexed into the First French Empire. Geneva was added to territory taken from several other departments to create Léman. The department corresponds with the present Swiss canton and parts of the present French departments Ain and Haute-Savoie.
Meurthe Nancy 1790–1871Meurthe ceased to exist following the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by the German Empire in 1871 and was not recreated after the province was restored to France by the Treaty of Versailles.
Seine Paris 1790–1967On 1 January 1968, Seine was divided into four new departments: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne (the last incorporating a small amount of territory from Seine-et-Oise as well). Was department number 75.
Seine-et-Oise Versailles 1790–1967On 1 January 1968, Seine-et-Oise was divided into four new departments: Yvelines, Val-d'Oise, Essonne, Val-de-Marne (the last largely comprising territory from Seine). Was department number 78.
Corsica Ajaccio 1811–1975On 15 September 1975, Corsica was divided in two, to form Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse. Was department number 20.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint-Pierre 1976–1985Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon was an overseas department from 1976 until it was converted to an overseas collectivity on 11 June 1985. INSEE code 975.
Corse-du-Sud Ajaccio 1975–2018Reunited with Haute-Corse into Corsica. Was INSEE code 2A.
Haute-Corse Bastia 1975–2018Reunited with Corse-du-Sud into Corsica. Was INSEE code 2B.

Departments of Algeria (Départements d'Algérie)

The three Algerian departments in 1848 Algerie fr.jpg
The three Algerian departments in 1848
Departments of French Algeria from 1957 to 1962 Map showing the Departements of Algeria from 1962-1968 and 1968-1974.svg
Departments of French Algeria from 1957 to 1962

Unlike the rest of French-controlled Africa, Algeria was divided into overseas departments from 1848 until its independence in 1962. These departments were supposed to be "assimilated" or "integrated" to France sometime in the future.

Before 1957
No.DepartmentPrefectureDates of existence
91 Alger Algiers (1848–1957)
92 Oran Oran (1848–1957)
93 Constantine Constantine (1848–1957)
Bône Annaba (1955–1957)
No.DepartmentPrefectureDates of existence
8A Oasis Ouargla (1957–1962)
8B Saoura Béchar (1957–1962)
9A Alger Algiers(1957–1962)
9B Batna Batna (1957–1962)
9C Bône Annaba(1955–1962)
9D Constantine Constantine(1957–1962)
9E Médéa Médéa (1957–1962)
9F Mostaganem Mostaganem (1957–1962)
9H Orléansville Chlef (1957–1962)
9J Sétif Sétif (1957–1962)
9K Tiaret Tiaret (1957–1962)
9L Tizi Ouzou Tizi Ouzou (1957–1962)
9M Tlemcen Tlemcen (1957–1962)
9N Aumale Sour el Ghozlane (1958–1959)
9P Bougie Béjaïa (1958–1962)
9R Saïda Saïda (1958–1962)

Departments in former French colonies

DepartmentModern-day locationDates in existence
Département du Sud Hispaniola
(Haiti and the Dominican Republic)
Département de l'Inganne (Mostly in the Dominican Republic with eastern part of Haiti)1795–1800
Département du Nord 1795–1800
Département de l'Ouest 1795–1800
Département de Samana (In the Dominican Republic)1795–1800
Sainte-Lucie Saint Lucia, Tobago 1795–1800
Île de France Mauritius, Rodrigues, Seychelles 1795–1800
Indes-Orientales Pondichéry, Karikal, Yanaon, Mahé and Chandernagore 1795–1800

Departments of the Napoleonic Empire in Europe

There are a number of former departments in territories conquered by France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Empire that are now not part of France:

(French name)
(English name)
Current location1Contemporary location2Dates in existence
Mont-Terrible Porrentruy Switzerland Holy Roman Empire: 1793–1800
Dyle Bruxelles Brussels Belgium Austrian Netherlands: 1795–1814
Escaut Gand Ghent Belgium
Austrian Netherlands:

Dutch Republic:

Forêts Luxembourg Luxembourg
Austrian Netherlands: 1795–1814
Jemmape Mons Belgium Austrian Netherlands:

Holy Roman Empire:

Lys Bruges Austrian Netherlands: 1795–1814
Meuse-Inférieure Maëstricht Maastricht Belgium
Austrian Netherlands:

Dutch Republic:

Holy Roman Empire:

Maastricht 5

Deux-Nèthes Anvers Antwerp Belgium Austrian Netherlands:

Dutch Republic:

Ourthe Liège Belgium
Austrian Netherlands:

Holy Roman Empire:

Sambre-et-Meuse Namur Belgium Austrian Netherlands:

Holy Roman Empire:

Corcyre Corfou Corfu Greece Republic of Venice 41797–1799
Ithaque Argostoli 1797–1798
Mer-Égée Zante Zakynthos 1797–1798
Mont-Tonnerre Mayence Mainz Germany Holy Roman Empire: 1801–1814
Rhin-et-Moselle Coblence Koblenz Holy Roman Empire: 1801–1814
Roer Aix-la-Chapelle Aachen Germany
Holy Roman Empire: 1801–1814
Sarre Trèves Trier Belgium
Holy Roman Empire: 1801–1814
Doire Ivrée Ivrea Italy Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia 1802–1814
Marengo Alexandrie Alessandria 1802–1814
Turin 1802–1814
Sésia Verceil Vercelli 1802–1814
Stura Coni Cuneo 1802–1814
Tanaro 6 Asti 1802–1805
Apennins Chiavari Republic of Genoa 71805–1814
Gênes Gênes Genoa 1805–1814
Montenotte Savone Savona 1805–1814
Arno Florence Grand Duchy of Tuscany 81808–1814
Méditerranée Livourne Livorno 1808–1814
Ombrone Sienne Siena 1808–1814
Taro Parme Parma Holy Roman Empire: 1808–1814
Rome 9 Rome Papal States 1809–1814
Trasimène Spolète Spoleto 1809–1814
Bouches-du-Rhin Bois-le-Duc 's-Hertogenbosch Netherlands Dutch Republic:101810–1814
Bouches-de-l'Escaut Middelbourg Middelburg Dutch Republic:101810–1814
Simplon Sion Switzerland République des Sept-Dizains 111810–1814
Bouches-de-la-Meuse La Haye The Hague Netherlands Dutch Republic:101811–1814
Bouches-de-l'Yssel Zwolle Dutch Republic:101811–1814
Ems-Occidental Groningue Groningen Netherlands
Dutch Republic:101811–1814
Ems-Oriental Aurich Germany Holy Roman Empire: 1811–1814
Frise Leuwarden Leeuwarden Netherlands Dutch Republic:101811–1814
Yssel-Supérieur Arnhem Dutch Republic:101811–1814
Zuyderzée Amsterdam Dutch Republic:101811–1814
Bouches-de-l'Elbe Hambourg Hamburg Germany Holy Roman Empire: 1811–1814
Bouches-du-Weser Brême Bremen Holy Roman Empire: 1811–1814
Ems-Supérieur Osnabrück Holy Roman Empire: 1811–1814
Lippe 12Munster Münster Holy Roman Empire: 1811–1814
Bouches-de-l'Èbre Lérida Lleida Spain Kingdom of Spain: 1812–1813
Montserrat Barcelone Barcelona 1812–1813
Sègre Puigcerda Puigcerdà 1812–1813
Ter Gérone Girona 1812–1813
Bouches-de-l'Èbre-Montserrat Barcelone Barcelona Previously the departments of Bouches-de-l'Èbre and Montserrat1813–1814
Sègre-Ter Gérone Girona Previously the departments of Sègre and Ter1813–1814

Notes for Table 7:

  1. Where a Napoleonic department was composed of parts from more than one country, the nation-state containing the prefecture is listed. Please expand this table to list all countries containing significant parts of the department.
  2. Territories that were a part of Austrian Netherlands were also a part of Holy Roman Empire.
  3. The Bishopric of Basel was a German Prince-Bishopric, not to be confused with the adjacent Swiss Canton of Basel.
  4. The territories of the Republic of Venice were lost to France, becoming the Septinsular Republic, a nominal vassal of the Ottoman Empire, from 1800–07. After reverting to France at the Treaty of Tilsit, these territories then became a British protectorate, as the United States of the Ionian Islands
  5. Maastricht was a condominium of the Dutch Republic and the Bishopric of Liège.
  6. On 6 June 1805, as a result of the annexation of the Ligurian Republic (the puppet successor state to the Republic of Genoa), Tanaro was abolished and its territory divided between the departments of Marengo, Montenotte and Stura.
  7. Before becoming the department of Apennins, the Republic of Genoa was converted to a puppet successor state, the Ligurian Republic.
  8. Before becoming the department of Arno, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was converted to a puppet successor state, the Kingdom of Etruria.
  9. Rome was known as the department du Tibre until 1810.
  10. Before becoming the departments of Bouches-du-Rhin, Bouches-de-l'Escaut, Bouches-de-la-Meuse, Bouches-de-l'Yssel, Ems-Occidental, Frise, Yssel-Supérieur and Zuyderzée, these territories of the Dutch Republic were converted to a puppet successor state, the Batavian Republic (1795–1806), then those territories that had not already been annexed (all except the first two departments here), along with the Prussian County of East Frisia, were converted to another puppet state, the Kingdom of Holland.
  11. Before becoming the department of Simplon, the République des Sept Dizains was converted to a revolutionary République du Valais (16 March 1798) which was swiftly incorporated (1 May 1798) into the puppet Helvetic Republic until 1802 when it became the independent Rhodanic Republic.
  12. In the months before Lippe was formed, the arrondissements of Rees and Münster were part of Yssel-Supérieur, the arrondissement of Steinfurt was part of Bouches-de-l'Yssel and the arrondissement of Neuenhaus was part of Ems-Occidental.

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  1. Ministère de l'intérieur, Les élections départementales : comprendre ce qui change (in French), retrieved 30 July 2015
  2. Masson, Jean-Louis (1984). "Provinces, départements, régions: L'organisation administrative de la France d'hier à demain". Google Livres (French Google Books site). Éditions Fernand Lanore. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  3. Le nom des départements
  4. See Provinces of the Netherlands for the annexed Dutch departments.
  5. "La fusion département-région n'est pas à l'ordre du jour". L'Express. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  6. Report of the Attali Commission "Decision 260", p. 197 (in French)
  7. 1 2 "Les 20 propositions du Comité (20 propositions of the Committee)" (in French). Committee for the reform of local authorities. Retrieved 11 November 2009.