Regions of France

Last updated

France's Regions
Région française  (French)
  • Also known as:
  • Rannvroioù Bro-C'hall  (Breton), Règion Francêsa  (Arpitan), Region Francesa  (Occitan), Regió Francesa  (Catalan)
Category Unitary republic
Location France
Possible status
Additional status
Populations279,471 (Mayotte) – 12,278,210 (Île-de-France)
Areas376 km2 (145 sq mi) (Mayotte) – 84,061 km2 (32,456 sq mi) (Nouvelle-Aquitaine)

France is divided into eighteen administrative regions (French : régions, singular région [ʁeʒjɔ̃] ), of which thirteen are located in metropolitan France (in Europe), while the other five are overseas regions (not to be confused with the overseas collectivities, which have a semi-autonomous status). [1]


All of the thirteen metropolitan administrative regions (including Corsica as of 2019) are further subdivided into two to thirteen administrative departments, with the prefect of each region's administrative centre's department also acting as the regional prefect. The overseas regions administratively consist of only one department each and hence also have the status of overseas departments.

Most administrative regions also have the status of regional territorial collectivities, which comes with a local government, with departmental and communal collectivities below the region level. The exceptions are Corsica, French Guiana, Mayotte and Martinique, where region and department functions are managed by single local governments having consolidated jurisdiction and which are known as single territorial collectivities.



The term région was officially created by the Law of Decentralisation (2 March 1982), which also gave regions their legal status. The first direct elections for regional representatives took place on 16 March 1986. [2]

Between 1982 and 2015, there were 22 regions in Metropolitan France. Before 2011, there were four overseas regions (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion); in 2011 Mayotte became the fifth.

Regions of France between 2011 and 2015
Regions in Metropolitan France between 1982 and 2015
Flag [3] RegionFrench nameOther local name(s)Capital INSEE No. [1] Derivation or etymology
Flag of Alsace.svg Alsace Alsace Alsatian: Elsàss
German : Elsass
Strasbourg 42Formerly a coalition of free cities in Holy Roman Empire, attached to Kingdom of France in 1648; annexed by Germany from Franco-Prussian war to the end of World War I and briefly during World War II
Flag of Aquitaine.svg Aquitaine Aquitaine Occitan : Aquitània
Basque : Akitania
Saintongeais  : Aguiéne
Bordeaux 72 Guyenne and Gascony
Flag of Auvergne.svg Auvergne Auvergne Occitan : Auvèrnhe / Auvèrnha Clermont-Ferrand 83Former province of Auvergne
Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg Brittany Bretagne Breton : Breizh
Gallo: Bertaèyn
Rennes 53 Duchy of Brittany
Flag of Bourgogne.svg Burgundy Bourgogne Burgundian: Bregogne /Borgoégne
Arpitan : Borgogne
Dijon 26 Duchy of Burgundy
Flag of Centre (France).svg Centre-Val de Loire [4] Centre-Val de Loire Orléans 24Located in north-central France; straddles the middle of the Loire Valley
Flag of Champagne-Ardenne.svg Champagne-Ardenne Champagne-Ardenne Châlons-en-
21Former province of Champagne
Franche-Comte.svg Franche-Comté Franche-Comté Franc-Comtois: Fràntche-Comté
Arpitan : Franche-Comtât
Besançon 43 Free County of Burgundy (Franche-Comté)
Flag of Ile-de-France.svg Île-de-France Île-de-France Paris 11 Province of Île-de-France and parts of the former province of Champagne
Flag of Languedoc Roussillon.svg Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon Occitan : Lengadòc-Rosselhon
Catalan : Llenguadoc-Rosselló
Montpellier 91Former provinces of Languedoc and Roussillon
Flag of Limousin.svg Limousin Limousin Occitan : Lemosin Limoges 74Former province of Limousin and parts of Marche, Berry, Auvergne, Poitou and Angoumois
Flag of Lorraine.svg Lorraine Lorraine German : Lothringen
Lorraine Franconian: Lottringe
Metz 41Named for Charlemagne's son Lothair I, the kingdom of Lotharingia is etymologically the source for the name Lorraine (duchy), Lothringen  (German), Lottringe (Lorraine Franconian)
Flag of Normandie.svg Lower Normandy Basse-Normandie Norman: Basse-Normaundie Caen 25Western half of former province of Normandy
Flag of Midi-Pyrenees.svg Midi-Pyrénées Midi-Pyrénées Occitan : Miègjorn-Pirenèus
Occitan : Mieidia-Pirenèus
Toulouse 73None; created for Toulouse
Flag of Flemish Region (De Vlaamse Leeuw).svg Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-Calais Lille 31 Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments
Flag of Pays-de-la-Loire.svg Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Breton : Broioù al Liger Nantes 52None; created for Nantes
Flag of Picardie.svg Picardy Picardie Amiens 22Former province of Picardy
Poitou-Charentes flag.svg Poitou-Charentes Poitou-Charentes Occitan : Peitau-Charantas
Poitevin and Saintongeais  : Poetou-Chérentes
Poitiers 54Former provinces of Angoumois, Aunis, Poitou and Saintonge
Flag of Provence-Alpes-Cote dAzur.svg Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) Provençal: Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur
(Prouvènço-Aup-Costo d'Azur)
Marseille 93Former province of Provence
Flag of Rhone-Alpes.svg Rhône-Alpes Rhône-Alpes Arpitan : Rôno-Arpes
Occitan : Ròse Aups
Lyon 82Created for Lyon from Dauphiné and Lyonnais provinces and Savoy
Haute-Normandie flag.svg Upper Normandy Haute-Normandie Norman: Ĥâote-Normaundie Rouen 23Eastern half of former province of Normandy

Reform and mergers of regions

In 2014, the French parliament passed a law reducing the number of metropolitan regions from 22 to 13 effective 1 January 2016. [5]

The law gave interim names for most of the new regions by combining the names of the former regions, e.g. the region composed of Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes and Limousin was temporarily called Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes. However, the combined region of Upper and Lower Normandy is simply called "Normandy" (Normandie). Permanent names were proposed by the new regional councils by 1 July 2016 and new names confirmed by the Conseil d'État by 30 September 2016. [6] [7] The legislation defining the new regions also allowed the Centre region to officially change its name to "Centre-Val de Loire" with effect from January 2015. [8] Two regions, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, opted to retain their interim names. [9] [10]

Given below is a table of former regions and which new region they became part of.

Former regionNew region
Interim nameFinal name
Auvergne Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Burgundy Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Centre-Val de Loire
French Guiana
Alsace Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine Grand Est
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Hauts-de-France
Lower Normandy Normandy
Upper Normandy
Aquitaine Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées Occitanie
Pays de la Loire
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

List of administrative regions

TypeRegionOther local name(s)CapitalArea (km2)Population [lower-alpha 1] [11] Seats

in Regional council

INSEE No. [12] Former regions (until 2016) President of the corresponding territorial collectivity's legislature Location
Metropolitan region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Occitan : Auvèrnhe-Ròse-Aups
Arpitan : Ôvèrgne-Rôno-Arpes
Lyon 69,711
20484 Auvergne
Laurent Wauquiez (LR) Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
(Burgundy-Free County)
Arpitan : Borgogne-Franche-Comtât Dijon 47,784
10027 Burgundy
Marie-Guite Dufay (PS) Bourgogne-Franche-Comte in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Bretagne
Breton : Breizh
Gallo: Bertaèyn
Rennes 27,208
8353unchanged Loïg Chesnais-Girard (PS) Brittany in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Centre-Val de Loire [4]
(Centre-Loire Valley)
Orléans 39,151
7724unchanged François Bonneau (PS) Centre-Val de Loire in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Corse
Corsican : Corsica Ajaccio 8,680
6394unchanged Jean-Guy Talamoni (CL) Corsica in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Grand Est
(Great East)
German : Großer Osten Strasbourg 57,441
16944 Alsace
Jean Rottner (LR) Grand Est in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Hauts-de-France
(Upper France)
Lille 31,806
17032 Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Xavier Bertrand (LR) Hauts-de-France in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Île-de-France
(Island of France)
Paris 12,011
20911unchanged Valérie Pécresse (LR) Ile-de-France in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Normandie
Norman: Normaundie Rouen 29,907
10228 Upper Normandy
Lower Normandy
Hervé Morin (LC) Normandy in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Nouvelle-Aquitaine
(New Aquitaine)
Occitan : Nòva Aquitània / Nava Aquitània / Novela Aquitània
Basque : Akitania Berria
Bordeaux 84,036
18375 Aquitaine
Alain Rousset (PS) Nouvelle-Aquitaine in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Occitanie


Occitan : Occitània
Catalan : Occitània
Toulouse 72,724
15876 Languedoc-Roussillon
Carole Delga (PS) Occitanie in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Pays de la Loire
(Loire Countries)
Breton : Broioù al Liger Nantes 32,082
9352unchanged Christelle Morançais (LR) Pays de la Loire in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
(Provence-Alps-Azure Coast)
Provençal: Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur
(Prouvènço-Aup-Costo d'Azur)
Marseille 31,400
12393unchanged Renaud Muselier (LR) Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur in France 2016.svg
Overseas region Guadeloupe Antillean Creole: Gwadloup Basse-Terre 1,628
4101unchanged Ary Chalus (GUSR) Guadeloupe in France 2016.svg
Overseas region Guyane
(French Guiana)
Cayenne 83,534
5103unchanged Rodolphe Alexandre (PSG) French Guiana in France 2016.svg
Overseas region La Réunion
Reunion Creole: La Rényon Saint-Denis 2,504
4504unchanged Didier Robert (LR) Departement 974 in France 2016.svg
Overseas region Martinique Antillean Creole: Matinik Fort-de-France 1,128
5102unchanged Claude Lise (RDM) Martinique in France 2016.svg
Overseas region Mayotte Shimaore: Maore
Malagasy: Mahori
Mamoudzou 3742606unchanged Soibahadine Ibrahim Ramadani (LR) Mayotte in France 2016.svg


Regions lack separate legislative authority and therefore cannot write their own statutory law. They levy their own taxes and, in return, receive a decreasing part of their budget from the central government, which gives them a portion of the taxes it levies. They also have considerable budgets managed by a regional council (conseil régional) made up of representatives voted into office in regional elections.

A region's primary responsibility is to build and furnish high schools. In March 2004, the French central government unveiled a controversial plan to transfer regulation of certain categories of non-teaching school staff to the regional authorities. Critics of this plan contended that tax revenue was insufficient to pay for the resulting costs, and that such measures would increase regional inequalities.

In addition, regions have considerable discretionary power over infrastructural spending, e.g., education, public transit, universities and research, and assistance to business owners. This has meant that the heads of wealthy regions such as Île-de-France or Rhône-Alpes can be high-profile positions.

Proposals to give regions limited legislative autonomy have met with considerable resistance; others propose transferring certain powers from the departments to their respective regions, leaving the former with limited authority.

Regional control

Number of regions controlled by each coalition since 1986.

1986 521 French regional elections 1986.svg
1992 4211 French regional elections 1992.svg
1998 10151 French regional elections 1998.svg
2004 2321 French regional elections 2004.svg
2010 233 French regional elections 2010.svg
2015 782 French regional elections 2015 2nd Round.svg
2021 684 French regional elections 2021.svg

Overseas regions

Overseas region (French : Région d'outre-mer) is a recent designation, given to the overseas departments that have similar powers to those of the regions of metropolitan France. As integral parts of the French Republic, they are represented in the National Assembly, Senate and Economic and Social Council, elect a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and use the euro as their currency.

Although these territories have had these political powers since 1982, when France's decentralisation policy dictated that they be given elected regional councils along with other regional powers, the designation overseas regions dates only to the 2003 constitutional change; indeed, the new wording of the constitution aims to give no precedence to either appellation overseas department or overseas region, although the second is still virtually unused by French media.

The following have overseas region status:

^ Saint Pierre and Miquelon (off Canada, in North America), once an overseas department, was demoted to a territorial collectivity in 1985.

See also




  1. As of 1 January 2022
  2. As of 2017

Related Research Articles

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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 332 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.

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The overseas departments and regions of France are departments of France that are outside metropolitan France, the European part of France. They have exactly the same status as mainland France's regions and departments. The French Constitution provides that, in general, French laws and regulations apply to French overseas regions the same as in metropolitan France, but can be adapted as needed to suit the region's particular needs. Hence, the local administrations of French overseas regions cannot themselves pass new laws.

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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.

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Ranked list of French regions

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Réunion national football team

The Réunion national football team is the regional team of the French overseas department and region of Réunion and is controlled by the Réunionese Football League, local branch of the French Football Federation. Réunion is not a member of FIFA and is only an associate member of CAF, and is therefore not eligible to enter either the World Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations. However, it has played numerous matches, most of them against the island nations of Madagascar, Mauritius, and the Seychelles.

The French overseas collectivities, are first-order administrative divisions of France, like the French regions, but have a semi-autonomous status. The COMs include some former French overseas colonies and other French overseas entities with a particular status, all of which became COMs by constitutional reform on 28 March 2003. The COMs differ from overseas regions and overseas departments, which have the same status as metropolitan France but are located outside Europe. As integral parts of France, overseas collectivities are represented in the National Assembly, Senate and Economic and Social Council and can vote to elect members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The Pacific COMs use the CFP franc, a currency pegged to the euro, whereas the Atlantic COMs use the euro itself. As of 31 March 2011, there were five COMs:

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Mayotte national football team National association football team

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Overseas France French-administered territories outside Europe

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Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Administrative region of France

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is a region in southeast-central France created by the 2014 territorial reform of French regions; it resulted from the merger of Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes. The new region came into effect on 1 January 2016, after the regional elections in December 2015.

2015 French regional elections

Regional elections were held in France on 6 and 13 December 2015. At stake were the regional councils in metropolitan and overseas France including the Corsican Assembly and inaugural seats in the Assembly of French Guiana and Assembly of Martinique, all for a six-year term. The Departmental Council of Mayotte, which also exercises the powers of a region, was the only region not participating in this election, having already been renewed on 2 April 2015. There were 18 regional presidencies at stake, with 13 in mainland France and Corsica, as well as 5 overseas. Though they do not have legislative autonomy, these territorial collectivities manage sizable budgets. Moreover, regional elections are often taken as a mid-term opinion poll.

2021 French regional elections Most recent regional elections in France

Regional elections were held in France on 20 June and 27 June 2021. At stake were the regional councils in metropolitan and overseas France including the Corsican Assembly, Assembly of French Guiana and Assembly of Martinique, all for a six-year term. The Departmental Council of Mayotte, which also exercises the powers of a region, also participated in this election, because the departmental elections were held at the same time. Eighteen regional presidencies were at stake, with thirteen in mainland France and Corsica, as well as five overseas. Though they do not have legislative autonomy, these territorial collectivities manage sizable budgets. Moreover, regional elections are often perceived as a mid-term opinion poll. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the regional and departmental elections were postponed, first to 13 and 20 June 2021 and then to 20 and 27 June 2021.

This is a list of countries showing past and future population density, ranging from 1950 to 2100, as estimated by the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects database by the United Nations Population Division. The population density equals the number of human inhabitants per square kilometer of land area.


  1. 1 2 "Carte des Régions" (in French). INSEE . Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  2. Jean-Marie Miossec (2009), Géohistoire de la régionalisation en France, Paris: Presses universitaires de France ISBN   978-2-13-056665-6.
  3. These flags are not official.
  4. 1 2 New name as of 17 January 2015; formerly named Centre.
  5. La carte à 13 régions définitivement adoptée, Le Monde, 17 December 2014, accessed 2 January 2015
  6. Quel nom pour la nouvelle région ? Vous avez choisi..., Sud-Ouest, 4 December 2014, accessed 2 January 2015
  7. "Nouveau nom de la région : dernier jour de vote, Occitanie en tête".
  8. "Journal officiel of 17 January 2015". Légifrance (in French). 17 January 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  9. "Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes : fini la consultation, Laurent Wauquiez a tranché - Place Gre'net". 31 May 2016.
  10. "Région Bourgogne-Franche-Comté".
  11. Populations légales des régions en vigueur au 1er janvier 2022
  12. "La nouvelle nomenclature des codes régions" (in French). INSEE . Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  13. Populations légales des communes de Mayotte en 2017
Overseas regions