Regions of France

Last updated

France's Regions
Région française (French)
Category Unitary republic
Location France
Possible status
Additional status
Populations279,471 (Mayotte) – 12,997,058 (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
RegionFrench nameOther local name(s) INSEE No. [3] Capital Derivation or etymology
Alsace Alsace Alsatian: Elsàss
German : Elsass
42 Strasbourg Formerly 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
Aquitaine Aquitaine Occitan : Aquitània
Basque : Akitania
Saintongeais  : Aguiéne
72 Bordeaux Guyenne and Gascony
Auvergne Auvergne Occitan : Auvèrnhe / Auvèrnha83 Clermont-Ferrand Former province of Auvergne
Brittany Bretagne Breton : Breizh
Gallo: Bertaèyn
53 Rennes Duchy of Brittany
Burgundy Bourgogne Burgundian: Bregogne /Borgoégne
Arpitan : Borgogne
26 Dijon Duchy of Burgundy
Centre-Val de Loire [4] Centre-Val de Loire 24 Orléans Located in north-central France; straddles the middle of the Loire Valley
Champagne-Ardenne Champagne-Ardenne 21 Châlons-en-
Former province of Champagne
Corsica Corse 94 Ajaccio
Franche-Comté Franche-Comté Franc-Comtois: Fràntche-Comté
Arpitan : Franche-Comtât
43 Besançon Free County of Burgundy (Franche-Comté)
Île-de-France Île-de-France 11 Paris Province of Île-de-France and parts of the former province of Champagne
Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon Occitan : Lengadòc-Rosselhon
Catalan : Llenguadoc-Rosselló
91 Montpellier Former provinces of Languedoc and Roussillon
Limousin Limousin Occitan : Lemosin74 Limoges Former province of Limousin and parts of Marche, Berry, Auvergne, Poitou and Angoumois
Lorraine Lorraine German : Lothringen
Lorraine Franconian: Lottringe
41 Metz Named for Charlemagne's son Lothair I, the kingdom of Lotharingia is etymologically the source for the name Lorraine (duchy), Lothringen (German), Lottringe (Lorraine Franconian)
Lower Normandy Basse-Normandie Norman: Basse-Normaundie
Breton : Normandi-Izel
25 Caen Western half of former province of Normandy
Midi-Pyrénées Midi-Pyrénées Occitan : Miègjorn-Pirenèus
Occitan : Mieidia-Pirenèus
73 Toulouse None; created for Toulouse
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-Calais 31 Lille Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments
Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Breton : Broioù al Liger52 Nantes None; created for Nantes
Picardy Picardie 22 Amiens Former province of Picardy
Poitou-Charentes Poitou-Charentes Occitan : Peitau-Charantas
Poitevin and Saintongeais  : Poetou-Chérentes
54 Poitiers Former provinces of Angoumois, Aunis, Poitou and Saintonge
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) Provençal: Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur
(Prouvènço-Aup-Costo d'Azur)
93 Marseille Former historical province of Provence and County of Nice annexed by France in 1860.
Rhône-Alpes Rhône-Alpes Arpitan : Rôno-Arpes
Occitan : Ròse Aups
82 Lyon Created for Lyon from Dauphiné and Lyonnais provinces and Savoy
Upper Normandy Haute-Normandie Norman: Ĥâote-Normaundie
Breton : Normandi-Uhel
23 Rouen Eastern 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)ISO INSEE No. [11] CapitalArea (km2)Population [lower-alpha 1] [12] Seats in
Regional council
Former regions
(until 2016)
President of the Regional Council Location
Metropolitan Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Occitan : Auvèrnhe-Ròse-Aups
Arpitan : Ôvèrgne-Rôno-Arpes
FR-ARA84 Lyon 69,711
204 Auvergne
Laurent Wauquiez (LR) Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
(Burgundy-Free County)
Arpitan : Borgogne-Franche-ComtâtFR-BFC27 Dijon 47,784
100 Burgundy
Marie-Guite Dufay (PS) Bourgogne-Franche-Comte in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Bretagne
Breton : Breizh
Gallo: Bertaèyn
FR-BRE53 Rennes 27,208
83unchanged Loïg Chesnais-Girard (PS) Brittany in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Centre-Val de Loire [4]
(Centre-Loire Valley)
FR-CVL24 Orléans 39,151
77unchanged François Bonneau (PS) Centre-Val de Loire in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Corse
Corsican : CorsicaFR-20R94 Ajaccio 8,680
63unchanged Jean-Guy Talamoni (CL) Corsica in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Grand Est
(Great East)
German : Großer OstenFR-GES44 Strasbourg 57,441
169 Alsace
Jean Rottner (LR) Grand Est in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Hauts-de-France
(Upper France)
FR-HDF32 Lille 31,806
170 Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Xavier Bertrand (LR) Hauts-de-France in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Île-de-France
(Island of France)
Breton : Enez-FrañsFR-IDF11 Paris 12,011
209unchanged Valérie Pécresse (LR) Ile-de-France in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Normandie
Norman: Normaundie
Breton : Normandi
FR-NOR28 Rouen 29,907
102 Upper Normandy
Lower Normandy
Hervé Morin (LC) Normandy in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Nouvelle-Aquitaine
(New Aquitaine)
Occitan : Nòva Aquitània / Nava Aquitània / Novela Aquitània
Basque : Akitania Berria
FR-NAQ75 Bordeaux 84,036
183 Aquitaine
Alain Rousset (PS) Nouvelle-Aquitaine in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Occitanie


Occitan : Occitània
Catalan : Occitània
FR-OCC76 Toulouse 72,724
158 Languedoc-Roussillon
Carole Delga (PS) Occitanie in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Pays de la Loire
(Loire Countries)
Breton : Broioù al LigerFR-PDL52 Nantes 32,082
93unchanged Christelle Morançais (LR) Pays de la Loire in France 2016.svg
Metropolitan Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
(Provence-Alps-Azure Coast)
Provençal: Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur
(Prouvènço-Aup-Costo d'Azur)
FR-PAC93 Marseille 31,400
123unchanged Renaud Muselier (LR) Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur in France 2016.svg
Overseas Guadeloupe Antillean Creole: GwadloupGP01 Basse-Terre 1,628
41unchanged Ary Chalus (GUSR) Guadeloupe in France 2016.svg
Overseas Guyane
(French Guiana)
GF03 Cayenne 83,534
51unchanged Rodolphe Alexandre (PSG) French Guiana in France 2016.svg
Overseas La Réunion
Reunion Creole: La RényonRE04 Saint-Denis 2,504
45unchanged Didier Robert (LR) Departement 974 in France 2016.svg
Overseas Martinique Antillean Creole: MatinikMQ02 Fort-de-France 1,128
51unchanged Claude Lise (RDM) Martinique in France 2016.svg
Overseas Mayotte Shimaore: Maore
Malagasy: Mahori
YT06 Mamoudzou 37426unchanged 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[ clarification needed ] 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 (located just south of Newfoundland, Canada, in North America), once an overseas department, was demoted to a territorial collectivity in 1985.

See also



Explanatory notes

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

Related Research Articles

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  1. "Statistiques locales: France par région" (in French). INSEE . Retrieved 4 July 2022.
  2. Jean-Marie Miossec (2009), Géohistoire de la régionalisation en France, Paris: Presses universitaires de France ISBN   978-2-13-056665-6.
  3. "Code officiel géographique au 1er janvier 2014: Liste des régions". INSEE.
  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.
  12. Populations légales des régions en vigueur au 1er janvier 2022
  13. Populations légales des communes de Mayotte en 2017
Overseas regions