Prefectures in France

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Map of the prefectures in France with their INSEE number Departements et regions de France - Noname-2016.svg
Map of the prefectures in France with their INSEE number

In France, a prefecture (French : préfecture) may be: [1] [2]


Although the administration of departments and regions is distinct, a regional prefect is ex officio prefect of the department in which the regional prefecture is located. The officeholder has authority upon the other prefects in the region on a range of matters.

Role of the prefecture

There are 101 prefectures in France, one for each department. The official in charge is the prefect (French : préfet). The prefecture is an administration that belongs to the Ministry of the Interior; it is therefore in charge of the delivery of identity cards, driving licenses, passports, residency and work permits for foreigners, vehicle registration, registration of associations (creation, status modification, dissolution), as well as of the management of the National Police and firefighters, although as of 2018, 79% of firefighters in France are part-time volunteers.

Prefectures are usually located near the geographic centre of their departments; they were originally chosen for being within a day's travel on horseback from anywhere in the department. Therefore, the largest settlement in a department may not always be its prefecture: the department of Marne, for example, has its prefecture at Châlons-en-Champagne despite the city of Reims, near the Aisne border, being four times its size.

The prefect represents the national government at the local level and as such exercises the powers that are constitutionally attributed to the national government. The prefect issues ordinances written for the application of local law: to close a building that does not conform to safety codes, or modify vehicular traffic regulations (speed limit, construction permits).

The governing body of the department is the departmental council (French : Conseil départemental), which is elected through a system of cantons. It is in charge of the building and maintenance of middle schools (collèges) and departmental roads, financial assistance to dependent people (disabled and elderly), as well as promotion of local economic development, amongst other matters. In the past, the prefect was head of the department, but since 1982, the President of the Departmental Council has assumed the role of chief executive of the department.

Parisian exception

Petite Couronne Petite couronne.svg
Petite Couronne

There is an exception in Paris in the Île-de-France region and its three surrounding departments, known as the Petite Couronne ("Small Crown"): Hauts-de-Seine to the west, Seine-Saint-Denis to the northeast and Val-de-Marne to the southeast. These departments are administered by an additional separate unitary prefecture for law enforcement and security purposes, a Prefecture of Police (French : préfecture de police), known as the Paris Police Prefecture, a situation inherited from the Paris Commune of 1871. The power of law enforcement is usually invested in the mayor in other communes. This power is held by the Prefect of Police of Paris in the Petite Couronne.

In 2012, a similar structure was established in Bouches-du-Rhône, the Bouches-du-Rhône Police Prefecture, headed by the Prefect of Police of Bouches-du-Rhône, although it is formally less independent than that of Paris.

Divisions of departments

Departments are divided into arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons. The chef-lieu d'arrondissement is the subprefecture (French : sous-préfecture). The official in charge is the subprefect (French : sous-préfet). There are relatively few competences associated to cantons, the most important one being the local organisation of elections, as cantons are electoral subdivisions.

See also

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Departments of France Administrative subdivision in France

In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government under the national level, between the administrative regions and the communes. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as overseas regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, and these are divided into cantons. The last two levels of government have no autonomy; they are the basis of local organisation of police, fire departments and, sometimes, administration of elections.

Hauts-de-Seine Department of France in Île-de-France

Hauts-de-Seine is a department in the Île-de-France region of Northern France. It covers Paris's western inner suburbs. With a population of 1,603,268 and a total area of 176 square kilometres, it is the second most highly densely populated department of France after Paris. Its prefecture is Nanterre although Boulogne-Billancourt, one of its two subprefectures alongside Antony, has a larger population.

Bouches-du-Rhône Department in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Bouches-du-Rhône is a department in Southern France named after the mouth of the river Rhône. It is the most populous department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, with 2,019,717 inhabitants as of 2016. It has an area of 5,087 km2 (1,964 sq mi). Its INSEE and postal code is 13. Marseille is Bouches-du-Rhône's largest city and prefecture.

Seine-Saint-Denis Department of France

Seine-Saint-Denis is a French department located in the Île-de-France region and in the Grand Paris. Locally, it is often referred to colloquially as quatre-vingt treize or neuf trois, after its official administrative number, 93.

Val-de-Marne Department of France

Val-de-Marne is a French department, named after the Marne River, located in the Île-de-France region. The department is situated to the southeast of the city of Paris and in the Grand Paris.

Prefect Magisterial title

Prefect is a magisterial title of varying definition, but essentially refers to the leader of an administrative area.

Subprefectures in France

In France, a subprefecture is the commune which is the administrative centre of a departmental arrondissement that does not contain the prefecture for its department. The term also applies to the building that houses the administrative headquarters for an arrondissement.

An arrondissement is a level of administrative division in France generally corresponding to the territory overseen by a subprefect. As of 2019, the 101 French departments were divided into 332 arrondissements.

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.

Prefect (France)

A prefect in France is the state's representative in a department or region. Subprefects 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.

Paris Police Prefecture

The Paris Police Prefecture is the unit of the French Ministry of the Interior that provides police, emergency services, and various administrative services to the population of the city of Paris and the surrounding three suburban départements of Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne. It is headed by the Prefect of Police.

Seine (department) Former department of France encompassing Paris and its suburbs

Seine was the former department of France encompassing Paris and its immediate suburbs. Its prefecture was Paris and its INSEE number was 75. The Seine department was disbanded in 1968 and its territory divided among four new departments: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne.

Administrative centre

An administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government, or a county town, or the place where the central administration of a commune is located.

Arrondissements of the Seine-et-Marne department

The 5 arrondissements of the Seine-et-Marne department are:

  1. Arrondissement of Fontainebleau, with 85 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 156,193 in 2016.
  2. Arrondissement of Meaux, with 142 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 343,169 in 2016.
  3. Arrondissement of Melun, with 59 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 278,808 in 2016.
  4. Arrondissement of Provins, with 176 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 187,405 in 2016.
  5. Arrondissement of Torcy, with 45 communes. The population of the arrondissement was 432,090 in 2016.
Council of Paris Body governing the capital of France

The Council of Paris is the deliberative body responsible for the governing of Paris, the capital of France. It possesses simultaneously the powers of a municipal council and those of a departmental council for the département de Paris, as defined by the so-called PLM Law of 1982 that redefined the governance of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Paris is the only territorial collectivity in France to be both a commune and a département.

In France, a Prefecture of Police , headed by the Prefect of Police, is an agency of the Government of France under the administration of the Ministry of the Interior. Part of the National Police, it provides a police force for an area limited by department borders. As of 2012, two such prefectures exist:

The Bouches-du-Rhône Police Prefecture, headed by the Bouches-du-Rhône Police Prefect, is a Prefecture of Police part of the National Police, which is a police force in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône. It was created on 16 October 2012.

Louis Thibon (1866–1940) was prefect during the French Third Republic (1870–1940).

Administration of Paris

As the capital of France, Paris is the seat of France's national government. For the executive, the two chief officers each have their own official residences, which also serve as their offices. The President of France resides at the Élysée Palace in the 8th arrondissement, while the Prime Minister's seat is at the Hôtel Matignon in the 7th arrondissement. Government ministries are located in various parts of the city; many are located in the 7th arrondissement, near the Matignon.

Pierre Dartout Minister of State of Monaco

Pierre Dartout is a French civil servant who currently serves as the Minister of State of Monaco since September 2020. He previously served as a prefect from 1980 to 2020. He held key positions in the prefecture corps since 1980.


  1. "Préfectures", Ministry of the Interior (in French).
  2. "Les services de l'État en région" on (in French).