Regions of France

Last updated

Région  (French)
Category Unitary republic
Location France
Possible status Overseas region (région d'outre-mer) (5)
Additional status Territorial collectivity (collectivité territoriale)
Populations212,645 (Mayotte) – 12,005,077 (Île-de-France)
Areas376 km2 (145 sq mi) (Mayotte) – 84,061 km2 (32,456 sq mi) (Nouvelle-Aquitaine)
GovernmentRegional Government, National Government
Subdivisions Department

France is divided into 18 administrative regions (French : régions, singular région [ʁeʒjɔ̃] ), of which 13 are located in metropolitan France (i.e. on the European continent), while the other five are overseas regions (not be confused with the "overseas collectivities", which have a semi-autonomous status). [1]

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.

Metropolitan France Part of France located in Europe

Metropolitan France, also known as European France or Mainland France, is the part of France in Europe. It comprises mainland France and Corsica, as well as other islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea.


All 13 mainland administrative regions (including Corsica as of 2019) are further subdivided into 2 to 13 administrative departments, with the prefect of each region's administrative center'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".

Corsica Region in France

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.

In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-five 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.

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. Office of a prefect is known as a prefecture and that of a sub-prefect as a subprefecture.

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, the 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".

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.

A local government is a form of public administration which, in a majority of contexts, exists as the lowest tier of administration within a given state. The term is used to contrast with offices at state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government and also to supranational government which deals with governing institutions between states. Local governments generally act within powers delegated to them by legislation or directives of the higher level of government. In federal states, local government generally comprises the third tier of government, whereas in unitary states, local government usually occupies the second or third tier of government, often with greater powers than higher-level administrative divisions.

French Guiana Overseas region and department of France in South America

French Guiana is an overseas department and region of France on the northern, Atlantic coast of South America in the Guianas. It borders Brazil to the east and south and Suriname to the west. French Guiana is the only territory of the mainland Americas to have full integration in a European country.



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]

In France, the policy of decentralisation was initiated by acts of the French parliament known as Gaston Defferre Laws in 1982. Prior to the new laws French municipalities and departments enjoyed a limited autonomy under laws passed in 1871 and 1884.

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.

Guadeloupe Overseas region and department in France

Guadeloupe is an archipelago forming an overseas region of France in the Caribbean. It consists of six inhabited islands, Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Désirade, and the Îles des Saintes, as well as many uninhabited islands and outcroppings. It lies south of Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat, and north of Dominica. Its capital is Basse-Terre on the west coast; however, the largest city is Pointe-à-Pitre.

Martinique Overseas region and department in France

Martinique is an insular region of France located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 376,480 inhabitants as of January 2016. Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, northwest of Barbados and south of Dominica. As one of the eighteen regions of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, and its currency is the euro.

Réunion Overseas region and department in France

Réunion is an overseas department and region of France and an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and 175 km (109 mi) southwest of Mauritius. As of January 2019, it had a population of 866,506.

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 Basse-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]

Regions that merged:

Former regionNew region (interim name)New region (final name)
Burgundy Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Aquitaine Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Lower Normandy Normandy Normandy
Upper Normandy
Alsace Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine Grand Est
Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées Occitanie
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Hauts-de-France
Auvergne Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Regions that remained unchanged:

Centre-Val de Loire
French Guiana
Pays de la Loire
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

List of administrative regions

TypeRegionOther local name(s)CapitalArea (km2) INSEE No. [11] Former regions (until 2016) President of the corresponding territorial collectivity's legislature Location
Mainland region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Occitan : Auvèrnhe-Ròse-Aups
Arpitan : Ôvèrgne-Rôno-Arpes
Lyon 69,71184 Auvergne
Laurent Wauquiez (LR) Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (Burgundy-Franche-Comté) Arpitan : Borgogne-Franche-Comtât Dijon 47,78427 Burgundy
Marie-Guite Dufay (PS) Bourgogne-Franche-Comte in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Bretagne (Brittany) Breton : Breizh
Gallo: Bertaèyn
Rennes 27,20853unchanged Loïg Chesnais-Girard (PS) Brittany in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Centre-Val de Loire [4] Orléans 39,15124 Centre François Bonneau (PS) Centre-Val de Loire in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Corse (Corsica) Corsican : Corsica Ajaccio 8,68094unchanged Jean-Guy Talamoni (CL) Corsica in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Grand Est (Great East) German : Großer Osten Strasbourg 57,44144 Alsace
Jean Rottner (LR) Grand Est in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Hauts-de-France Lille 31,80632 Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Xavier Bertrand (LR) Hauts-de-France in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Île-de-France Paris 12,01111unchanged Valérie Pécresse (LR) Ile-de-France in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Normandie (Normandy) Norman: Normaundie Rouen 29,90728 Upper Normandy
Lower Normandy
Hervé Morin (LC) Normandy in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Nouvelle-Aquitaine (New Aquitaine) Occitan : Nòva Aquitània / Nava Aquitània / Novela Aquitània
Basque : Akitania Berria
Bordeaux 84,03675 Aquitaine
Alain Rousset (PS) Nouvelle-Aquitaine in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Occitanie Occitan : Occitània
Catalan : Occitània
Toulouse 72,72476 Languedoc-Roussillon
Carole Delga (PS) Occitanie in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Pays de la Loire Breton : Broioù al Liger Nantes 32,08252unchanged Christelle Morançais (LR) Pays de la Loire in France 2016.svg
Mainland region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Provençal: Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur
(Prouvènço-Aup-Costo d'Azur)
Marseille 31,40093unchanged Renaud Muselier (LR) Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur in France 2016.svg
Overseas region Guadeloupe Antillean Creole: Gwadloup Basse-Terre 1,62801unchanged Ary Chalus (GUSR) Guadeloupe in France 2016.svg
Overseas region Guyane (French Guiana) Cayenne 83,53403unchanged Rodolphe Alexandre (PSG) French Guiana in France 2016.svg
Overseas region La Réunion (Réunion) Reunion Creole: La Rényon Saint-Denis 2,50404unchanged Didier Robert (LR) Departement 974 in France 2016.svg
Overseas region Martinique Antillean Creole: Matinik Fort-de-France 1,12802unchanged Claude Lise (RDM) Martinique in France 2016.svg
Overseas region Mayotte Shimaore: Maore
Malagasy: Mahori
Mamoudzou 37406unchanged 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

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



Related Research Articles

Martinique is an overseas Territorial collectivity of France, with the same political status as regions and departments in mainland France. The administrative centre of Martinique is located in Fort-de-France.

Geography of France

The geography of France consists of a terrain that is mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in the north and west and mountainous in the south and the east. Metropolitan France has a total size of 551,695 km2 (213,011 sq mi). It is the third largest country in Europe after Russia and Ukraine.

ISO 3166-2:FR is the entry for France in ISO 3166-2, part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which defines codes for the names of the principal subdivisions of all countries coded in ISO 3166-1.

The overseas departments and regions of France are departments of France which are outside metropolitan France, the European part of France. They have nearly the same political status as metropolitan departments, although special constitutional provisions allow them greater autonomy and they are excluded from certain domestic statistics, such as the unemployment rate.

Ranked list of French regions Wikimedia list article

The following are ranked lists of French regions.

A regional council is the elected assembly of a region of France.

The galleries below show flags attributed to the eighteen regions, five overseas collectivities, one sui generis collectivity and one overseas territory of France. Most of them are non-official as regions often use their logos as a flag.

Outline of France Overview of and topical guide to France

The following outline is provided as an overview and topical guide of France:

2010 French Guianan status referendum

A referendum on becoming an autonomous overseas territory was held in French Guiana on 10 January 2010. The proposal was rejected by 70% of voters who prefer full integration in the French central state. The turnout was of 48%. A simultaneous referendum was rejected in Martinique.

A referendum on becoming an overseas territory was held in Martinique on 10 January 2010. The proposal was rejected by 79% of voters, with a turnout of 55%. A simultaneous referendum was rejected in French Guiana.

Overseas France Collective grouping of all French-administered territories and collectivities outside Europe

Overseas France consists of all the French-administered territories outside the European continent, mostly relics of the French colonial empire. These territories have varying legal status and different levels of autonomy, although all have representation in both France's National Assembly and Senate, which together make up the French Parliament. Their citizens have French nationality and vote for the president of France. They have the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament. Overseas France includes island territories in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, French Guiana on the South American continent, and several periantarctic islands as well as a claim in Antarctica.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region of France

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is a region in southeast-central France created by the territorial reform of French Regions in 2015; 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.

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Administrative region of France

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, sometimes abbreviated BFC, is a region in the east of France created by the territorial reform of French Regions in 2014, from a merger of Burgundy and Franche-Comté. The new region came into existence on 1 January 2016, after the regional elections of December 2015, electing 100 members to the regional council of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

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 as well as 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, is the only region not participating in this election, having already been renewed on 2 April 2015. There are 18 Regional Presidencies at stake, with 13 in continental France and Corsica, and 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.

Single territorial collectivity Chartered subdivision of France

A single territorial collectivity is a chartered subdivision of France that exerts both the powers of a region and a department.


  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. "La nouvelle nomenclature des codes régions" (in French). INSEE . Retrieved 17 January 2016.
Overseas regions