Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

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Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur  (Occitan)
Provenza-Alpi-Costa Azzurra  (Italian)
Menton-Cote d'Azur.jpg
View of Menton on the French Riviera
Flag of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur.svg
Arms of the French Region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur.svg
Coat of arms
Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region locator map2.svg
Coordinates: 44°00′N6°00′E / 44.000°N 6.000°E / 44.000; 6.000 Coordinates: 44°00′N6°00′E / 44.000°N 6.000°E / 44.000; 6.000
Country Flag of France.svg  France
Prefecture Marseille
   President of the Regional Council Renaud Muselier (LR)
  Total31,400 km2 (12,100 sq mi)
Area rank10th
  Density160/km2 (410/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Provençals
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
ISO 3166 code FR-PAC
GDP  (2012) [1] Ranked 3rd
Total€142.4 billion (US$183.1 bn)
Per capita€28,861 (US$37,121)
NUTS Region FR8

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (French pronunciation:  [pʁɔvɑ̃s‿alp kot d‿azyʁ] ; Occitan : Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur, [pɾuˈvɛnso̞ ˈawps ˈkɔsto̞ daˈzyɾ] ; Italian : Provenza-Alpi-Costa Azzurra, commonly shortened to PACA; English: Provence-Alps-French Riviera; also known as Région Sud) is one of the eighteen administrative regions of France, the far southeastern on the mainland. Its prefecture and largest city is Marseille. The region is roughly coterminous with the former French province of Provence, with the addition of the following adjacent areas: the former papal territory of Avignon, known as Comtat Venaissin; the former Sardinian-Piedmontese County of Nice, whose coastline is known in English as the French Riviera and in French as the Côte d'Azur; and the southeastern part of the former French province of Dauphiné, in the French Alps. Previously known by the acronym PACA, the region adopted the name Région Sud as a commercial name or nickname in December 2017. [2] 5,007,977 people live in the region according to the 2015 census.


It encompasses six departments in Southeastern France: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Hautes-Alpes, Var and Vaucluse. It is bounded to the east by the France–Italy border, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and by the Principality of Monaco, to the north by Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and to the west by Occitanie, with the Rhône marking its westernmost border. The region logotype displays the coat of arms created in the 1990s and which combines the coats of arms of the old provinces making up Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The region's economy is the third largest in France, just behind Île-de-France and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Its GDP in 2012 was €142.4 billion (US$183.1 billion) while its per capita GDP was €28,861 ($US 37,121).



According to a 2015 census, the population in the region was 5,007,977; Marseille and its metropolitan area is the most populous in the region with a city population of 850,636, an urban population of 1,560,921 and a metropolitan population of 1,720,941. Marseille is the second largest city in France after Paris, and has the third largest metropolitan population, behind those of Paris and Lyon respectively.

Nice is host to the second-largest population concentration in the region, with a city population of 344,875 and an urban population of 1,005,230, making it the fifth-most populous city in France.


The absolute majority of the population speaks French but many regional and foreign languages are present in the region. [3]

The 1999 Census, which included a complementary survey asking for the mother tongue of the respondents, gave results on the most spoken mother tongues in Provence after French: [4]


According to a 2009 study, nearly 40% of all newborns in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in 2007 had at least one parent of an immigrant background, mostly Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Maghrebi. This is the second-highest rate after Île-de-France (Greater Paris), where the figure was around 56%. [5] Since the 1960s, the region has been a major immigration centre into France, mostly due to Mediterranean immigration from countries such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.


Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is divided into 6 departments. These are Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var and Vaucluse.

DepartmentAreaPopulationPrefectureSub-prefecture(s)Population density
04 Alpes-de-Haute-Provence 6,944 km2 (2,681 sq mi)161,241 Digne-les-Bains Barcelonnette, Castellane and Forcalquier 23/km2 (60/sq mi)
05 Hautes-Alpes 5,549 km2 (2,142 sq mi)139,554 Gap Briançon 24/km2 (62/sq mi)
06 Alpes-Maritimes 4,299 km2 (1,660 sq mi)1,084,428 Nice Grasse 252/km2 (650/sq mi)
13 Bouches-du-Rhône 5,112 km2 (1,974 sq mi)1,984,784 Marseille Aix-en-Provence, Arles and Istres 385/km2 (1,000/sq mi)
83 Var 5,973 km2 (2,306 sq mi)1,021,669 Toulon Brignoles and Draguignan 196/km2 (510/sq mi)
84 Vaucluse 3,566 km2 (1,377 sq mi)546,314 Avignon Apt and Carpentras 151/km2 (390/sq mi)

Major cities

Marseille Marseille 20160813 17.jpg
Nice Nice - panoramio (12).jpg
Aix-en-Provence Aix en Provence Quatre-Dauphins.jpg
Avignon Palais des papes, Avignon, aout 2016, crepuscule.jpg
Cannes CannesCroisetteEst.JPG

The largest cities in the region are Marseille (administrative capital city of the region), Nice, Toulon, and Aix-en-Provence, each with a population exceeding 100,000 inhabitants at the 1999 census. Along with Marseille, Nice is the second most populous city in the region with a city proper population of about 350,000 and an urban population exceeding 1 million.

Marseille has an urban area of 2 million inhabitants and is the largest and capital city of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. It is also the second most populated city in France, just behind Paris and the city with the third largest metropolitan population in France, behind Paris and Lyon respectively.

Along with Nice and Marseille the region is also made internationally popular with Cannes which, though not a large city (population of 73,603 in 2012), hosts the annual Cannes Film Festival which has highly popularized the region. Also, Arles has become renowned as the city in which Vincent van Gogh lived and painted 300 paintings.

Toulon is a large military harbour on the Mediterranean coast, with the French naval base placed there. It is the capital of the Var department in the region. Also, Aix-en-Provence has long been a university town, and to this day remains the most important educational centre in the region.

Below is a list of the most populated cities in the region along with their population (city proper) according to the most recent census:


This region has a total area of 31,400 km2 (12,100 sq mi). It has a wide variety of landscapes, from the Alps mountains to plains and coastal areas like Nice and Marseille, which form the majority of the land area. The region has a Mediterranean coastline on the south, on which the majority of its population lives. It borders Italy (Liguria and Piedmont) to the east, Monaco (Fontvieille, La Colle, La Rousse, Larvotto, Les Moneghetti, Les Révoires, Saint Michel) in the south-east, and the French regions of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes to the north and Occitanie to the west. The Rhône, Durance, Var and Arc rivers run through the region. The borders were unaffected by the 2016 French regional reforms.

This region is famous for the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera), which spans the coastal cities of Nice, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, Antibes, Juan-les-Pins, Cannes, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Fréjus, Saint-Raphaël, Sainte-Maxime and Saint-Tropez; and on the Rhône river, the city of Avignon which is surrounded by medieval stone walls.

Regional government and politics

Regional council logo Langfr-400px-Logo PACA 2018.svg.png
Regional council logo

The Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is the legislative body of the region. The President of the Regional Council has been Renaud Muselier (LR) since 2017.

Political tendencies

In the recent years Les Républicains have gained strong support in the region and following the 2015 departmental elections, they control the region, which had been narrowly controlled by the Parti Socialiste with Michel Vauzelle previously.

The French Communist Party historically had several strongholds in the region from the 1920s onward, including Aubagne, Draguignan, La Ciotat, Beausoleil, Martigues, Gardanne, Arles and some suburbs of Marseille. Though not enough to win the regional elections, the party usually received about 10% of the vote. Beginning with 2002 this declined to 4% and by 2012, dropped below 2%.

The main competition seen in the politics of this region is between Les Républicains and the Parti Socialiste (PS), both deferring in its opinions. According to the most recent elections, the political tendencies are as follows-

Élection / collectivitésLes Républicains (centre-right)Parti Socialiste (centre-left)
Presidential Election (2012) (2nd tour)57.62% (Nicolas Sarkozy) (LR)42.38% (François Hollande) (PS)
Regional Councils51 (LR-NC-DVD-FN)72 (PS-PRG-Verts-PCF-DVG)
General Councils51


The Sugiton Calanque, Marseille, a tourist attraction Panorama calanque de Sugiton.jpg
The Sugiton Calanque, Marseille, a tourist attraction
The Verdon Gorge Belvedere du Tilleul-Route des Cretes-Gorges du Verdon.JPG
The Verdon Gorge
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, renowned resort near Nice View across Anse des Fosses from the top of the Cap Ferrat hill - panoramio.jpg
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, renowned resort near Nice
Cassis, typical village of the region, popular vacation destination 13260 Cassis, France - panoramio.jpg
Cassis, typical village of the region, popular vacation destination

The regional income per capita is close to the French national average. Income inequality however is higher than in other regions: the region is ranked 4th by percent of population living above the poverty line. The region is ranked third by GDP. Between 2007 and 2011, the region registered an average annual growth rate of 1.6% of GDP (Eurostat), close to the national average annual growth rate of 1.5%. Representing 7.2% of the national GDP over the period, the region is an important economic powerhouse.

In 2013, the region was responsible for 7.4% of national employment, with an employment rate of 89.2%. The region's employment success has a main characteristic: a higher concentration of elderly people than in the rest of France (respectively 27.1% and 24.1% in 2013).

With more than 80% of regional employment in the service sector in 2010, the regional economy is mostly oriented towards service activities, above the national average of 76.3%. The sector grew between 2000 and 2010 (3.1% on annual average vs. 2.1% in France). The region concentrates more on commercial activities than financial ones than the rest of France does; principally because of tourism. 34% of the labour force is employed in retail and trade, against 32% at the national level. Moreover, the sector strongly contributes to growth of added value (81.5% vs. 77.3% at the national level). The industrial sector (existing mainly through the Marseille-Fos Port), including construction, consists of 17.1% of regional employment (vs. 20.6% in the rest of France), and contributes to 9.3% of gross added value, 3.2 points below the French level.

Employment in the agricultural sector is lower than the national level (2.4% against 3.1%). However, it grew at a rate of 4.1% annually on average between 2000 and 2008, while the rest of the country saw its agricultural employment decline by 2.4%. According to the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques, the region is characterised by a strong presence of SMEs of less than 500 employees, which represent 91.2% of local businesses (higher than the national average of 90.9%). Retail activities and tourism explain these figures.

The region's economy is dependent on tourism like most coastal places but also a majority of its economy is dependent on coastal activities. PACA is the 3rd richest French region and ranks 19th on the European scale. Its prosperity is mainly thanks to its attractiveness in terms of tourism; it is indeed one of the world's favourite tourist destinations, welcoming about 34 million tourists every year. The service sector predominates and provides many good jobs. In 2009, the region was admittedly affected by the global economic crisis, albeit to a small extent. It is (after the Paris area) the 2nd French region with regards to business startups.

If tourism is the driving force of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, the region is also a leader when it comes to innovative sectors, such as high technology, biotechnology, and microelectronics. Education, for its part, is well developed with the region's various universities, international schools, preparatory classes for specialist university courses, and engineering and business schools. All these institutions of higher learning help contribute to the human capital needed by the region to meet current technological challenges.

The region has a total GDP (2012) of €142.4 billion (US$183.1 bn), the third highest in France. It has a per capita GDP of €28,861 (US$37,121), slightly higher than the French average. According to a recent survey, a person living in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur has an average annual income of about €37,489 (US$45,755).

The region has been part of Alps–Mediterranean Euroregion since 10 July 2007.


The region is one of the most visited of France, and has therefore many well-known museums, mostly in Marseille: the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, the Musée Cantini, the Musée Grobet-Labadié, the Marseille History Museum, the Musée des beaux-arts de Marseille, the Musée de la Faïence de Marseille and the Muséum d'histoire naturelle de Marseille are some of the tourist spots of the city. However, other museums are internationally recognised, like the Musée Matisse, the Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain, the Musée Marc Chagall, the Musée international d'Art naïf Anatole Jakovsky, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice, the Musée National du Sport and the Muséum d'histoire naturelle de Nice.


Nice Cote d'Azur Airport Nice airport.jpg
Nice Côte d'Azur Airport


PACA has two of the busiest airports in France: Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (ranking 3rd after Charles de Gaulle Airport and Orly Airport) and Marseille Provence Airport (ranking 5th after Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport). Nice saw 13,850,000 people travelling through its airport in 2018, while 8,478,541 used Marseille to fly.

Minor airports include Toulon–Hyères Airport (500,046).


The region is at the centre of a complex and dense motorway network, in the heart of Mediterranean coast. Motorways are operated by ASF, ESCOTA, SMTC, MPM (Marseille Metropolis) and DIR Med (State). In PACA, motorways have the particularity to serve the city centres of big towns, unlike other big cities of France. This is due to their comparatively early construction in relation to the motorways of France's other regions.


High speed services

TGV on the LGV Mediterranee LGV 1 By JM Rosier.jpg
TGV on the LGV Méditerranée

The region is served by 13 high-speed trains stations and one more in the Principality of Monaco. Two stations are situated on the HSL LGV Méditerranée opened in 2001: Avignon TGV and Aix-en-Provence TGV. The others stations served by high-speed services are Avignon-Centre, Arles, Miramas, Marseille-Saint-Charles, Toulon, Les Arcs-Draguignan, Saint-Raphaël-Valescure, Cannes, Antibes, Nice-Ville and Menton.

Services operated

  • Paris GDL to Avignon-Centre / Miramas
  • Paris GDL to Marseille, Toulon, Nice, Monaco and Ventimiglia (Italy)
  • Nantes / Rennes to Marseille
  • Strasbourg to Marseille
  • Lille to Marseille
  • Nancy / Metz / Dijon to Marseille / Nice
  • Le Havre to Marseille

Services operated by SNCF Ouigo:

  • Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy to Marseille
  • Lyon-Perrache to Marseille

Services operated by SNCB/NMBS TGV:

  • Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid (Belgium) to Marseille and Nice

Services operated by CFF Lyria:

  • Genève (Switzerland) to Marseille and Nice

Services operated by DB Alleo:

  • Frankfurt am Main (Germany) to Marseille

Services operated by Renfe AVE:

  • Madrid-Atocha (Spain) to Barcelona (Spain) to Marseille

Services operated by Eurostar:

  • London Saint Pancras Int. (UK) to Ashford (UK) and Marseille

Services operated by Thalys (seasonal):

  • Amsterdam (Netherlands) to Brussel (Belgium) and Marseille

National services

Despite the importance of the region in the national economy and demography, the national services on conventional network are not very high due to the fact of the saturations of the tracks with high speed and regional trains.

Services operated by SNCF Intercités:

  • Bordeaux-Saint-Jean to Toulouse, Montpellier, Marseille-Saint-Charles and Nice
  • Paris-Austerlitz to Marseille-Blancarde and Nice (night train)
  • Paris-Austerlitz to Gap and Briançon (night train)

Services operated by Thello Eurocity:

  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Nice, Monaco, Ventimiglia, Genoa and Milano Centrale (Italy)

Regional services

A TER Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur at Sausset-les-Pins station Sausset-les-Pins gare.jpg
A TER Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur at Sausset-les-Pins station
Regional train making a stop in Le Rove Niolon-gare.jpg
Regional train making a stop in Le Rove

All regional trains services are operated by SNCF TER Provence-Alpes Côte d'Azur, except between Nice and Digne-les-Bains, operated by CP, the own-region company. The Regional Council of Provence-Alpes Côte d'Azur is the transport authority and defines the services in all region. An attractive fare permits to transport more than 100,000 passengers every day in 750 trains. Trains are leaving every 15, 20, 30, 60 or 120 minutes on each line.

With only one big line, the tracks are saturated causing delays or cancellations. The region has to rent other trains from other regions to respond at the offer. In 2016, during the second Council of the Year at the Region Hall in Marseille, in front of politicians and the new president of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Christian Estrosi, the SNCF CEO, Guillaume Pepy, has announced the impossibility of the company to respond to the demand. The Marseille-Saint-Charles Station, the Marseille's main railway station can't support more than 23 trains an hour and the tracks are too old and not enough to accept an average of the capacity. The project of new high-speed line called LGV PACA in 2030 could permit to increase trains on tracks with a new crossing of Marseille with a tunnel. Two new stations will be created in the territory of the city and a new line between Cannes and Nice Côte d'Azur Airport.

Services operated by CP:

  • Nice CP to Colomars and Plan du Var
  • Nice CP to Digne-les-Bains

Services operated by SNCF are declined with two appellations unlike other regions : TER, normally suburban trains and Intervilles, long-distance regional trains. Services operated by SNCF Intervilles:

  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Toulon, Nice and Monaco
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Gap and Briançon
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Avignon and Lyon-Part-Dieu
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Montpellier, Narbonne and Perpignan
  • Briançon to Gap, Valence TGV, Valence-Ville and Romans-sur-Isère
  • Avignon-Centre to Montpellier, Narbonne and Perpignan

Services operated by SNCF TER:

  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Marseille-Euroméditerranée, Port-de-Bouc and Miramas
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Vitrolles MP Airport, Miramas and Avignon-Centre
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Vitrolles MP Airport, Miramas, Nîmes and Montpellier-Saint-Roch
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Marseille-Euroméditerranée, Vitrolles MP Airport, Salon-de-Provence, Avignon-Centre and Avignon TGV
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Saint-Antoine, Aix-en-Provence and Pertuis
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Saint-Antoine, Aix-en-Provence and Sisteron
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Marseille-Blancarde and Aubagne
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Marseille-Blancarde, Aubagne, Toulon and Hyères
  • Marseille-Saint-Charles to Marseille-Blancarde, Aubagne, Toulon and Les Arcs-Draguignan
  • Avignon-Centre, Valence and Lyon-Perrache
  • Avignon-Centre to Nîmes, Montpellier, Narbonne and Perpignan
  • Avignon TGV to Avignon-Centre and Carpentras
  • Les Arcs-Draguignan to Cannes, Nice, Monaco and Menton
  • Grasse to Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Menton and Ventimiglia (Italy)
  • Nice-Ville to Breil-sur-Roya and Cuneo (Italy)
  • Briançon to Gap and Grenoble


The mining company Alteo processes bauxite to produce aluminium, resulting in various waste materials such as "boues rouges" (red mud) and arsenic. The dumping of this waste in the marine reserve of the Calanques National Park for 6 years was authorised by the French government in 2015. Company representatives have dismissed environmental concerns as exaggerated and uninformed. [6] [7] [8] [9] The region also includes another National Park, the Port-Cros National Park near Toulon.

Due to motor vehicle traffic, the urban areas are often saturated on a daily basis, but cities are investing in public transport networks such as Marseille's subway (2 lines) and tramway (3 lines), Aubagne tramway (1 line) and Nice tramway (1 line). Other networks existed at the beginning of the 20th century in smaller cities such as Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, La Ciotat and Toulon but are now gone.


Major universities of the region include the Aix-Marseille University, the University of Toulon, the University of Avignon and the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. Other towns have higher education classes but no universities.

Related Research Articles

Provence Historical province in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Provence is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône to the west to the Italian border to the east, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It largely corresponds with the modern administrative region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and includes the departments of Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, as well as parts of Alpes-Maritimes and Vaucluse. The largest city of the region is Marseille.

Saint-Laurent-du-Var Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

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Saint-Raphaël, Var Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

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LGV Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur Future French high-speed railway

The LGV Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, also referred to as the LGV PACA and LGV Côte d'Azur, is a French high-speed rail project intended to extend the LGV Méditerranée which ends in Marseille toward the French Riviera. It would offer faster journey times between Monaco, Nice, Cannes, Toulon and the north of the country than the Marseille–Ventimiglia railway, opened in the 19th century. The project is not currently funded and construction would begin around 2022 at the earliest.

TER Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur

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Cannes station

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Nice-Ville station

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A52 autoroute

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A57 autoroute

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Toulon station

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Marseille–Ventimiglia railway French, Monégasque and Italian railway

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Monaco-Monte-Carlo station Railway station serving the Principality of Monaco

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The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Toulon, France.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Aix-en-Provence.


  1. INSEE. "Produits intérieurs bruts régionaux et valeurs ajoutées régionales de 1990 à 2012" . Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  2. "La Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur ne sera plus surnommée « PACA » mais « région Sud »". December 16, 2017 via Le Monde.
  3. "Langues et cité - L'occitan" (PDF). Ministère de la Culture. 2007.
  4. "Le volet linguistique du recensement français de 1999 résultats et analyse appliqués à la Provence plurilingue et au provençal".
  5. Bardakdjian-Michau J, Bahuau M, Hurtrel D, et al. (January 2009). "Neonatal screening for sickle cell disease in France". J. Clin. Pathol. 62 (1): 31–3. doi:10.1136/jcp.2008.058867. PMID   19103855. S2CID   14945304.
  6. "Le rejet de produits toxiques autorisé dans le Parc national des Calanques". December 29, 2015 via Le Monde.
  7. "Querelle entre Royal et Valls sur le rejet des boues rouges dans les Calanques". LEFIGARO.
  8. "Arrêt des rejets de « boues rouges » en mer - Alteo Gardanne Environnement".
  9. "PACA : le préfet autorise pour 6 ans le rejet des boues rouges dans le Parc national des Calanques". Sciences et Avenir.