Southern France, also known as the South of France or colloquially in French as le Midi,is a defined geographical area consisting of the regions of France that border the Atlantic Ocean south of the Marais Poitevin, Spain, the Mediterranean Sea and Italy. It includes: Nouvelle-Aquitaine in the west, Occitanie in the centre, the southern parts of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in the northeast, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in the southeast, as well as the island of Corsica in the southeast. Monaco and Andorra are sometimes included in definitions of Southern France although they are principalities.
The area corresponds in large part to Occitania, the territory in which Occitan (French : langue d'oc) – as distinct from the langues d'oïl of Northern France – was historically the dominant language. Though part of Occitania, the regions of Auvergne and Limousin are not normally considered part of the South of France. The biggest cities of Southern France are Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nice and Montpellier. The Pyrenees and French Alps are also located in the area, respectively in its southwestern and eastern parts.
The term Midi derives from mi (middle) and di (day) in Old French, comparable to the term Mezzogiorno from the Southern Italy. The time of midday was synonymous with the direction of south because in France, as in all of the Northern Hemisphere north of the Tropic of Cancer, the sun is in the south at noon. The synonymy existed in Middle French as well, where meridien can refer to both midday and south. The Midi is considered to start at Valence, hence the saying "à Valence le Midi commence".
Notable touristic landmarks include the Roman-era Pont du Gard and Arena of Nîmes, the Canal du Midi, linking Toulouse and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the natural regions of Camargue and Médoc. The French Riviera is located in Southern France's southeastern quadrant. Several towns in Southern France are renowned for their architecture and surroundings, such as Roussillon, Ménerbes, Cordes-sur-Ciel, Gordes, Rocamadour, Les Baux-de-Provence, Lourmarin, Gassin, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Seillans, Crillon-le-Brave and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Languedoc is a former province of France. Its territory is now contained in the modern-day region of Occitanie in the south of France. Its capital city was Toulouse. It had an area of approximately 42,700 square kilometers.
Drôme is a department in Southeastern France, located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It is named after the Drôme River; it had a population of 508,006 as of 2016. Drôme's prefecture is Valence.
Languedoc-Roussillon is a former administrative region of France. On 1 January 2016, it joined with the region of Midi-Pyrénées to became Occitanie. It comprises five departments, and borders the other French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, Midi-Pyrénées on the one side, and Spain, Andorra and the Mediterranean Sea on the other side. It is the southernmost region of mainland France.
The Canal du Midi is a 240 km (150 mi) long canal in Southern France. Originally named the Canal royal en Languedoc and renamed by French revolutionaries to Canal du Midi in 1789, the canal was at the time considered one of the greatest construction works of the 17th century.
Midi-Pyrénées is a former administrative region of France. Since 1 January 2016, it has been part of the new region Occitanie. It was the largest region of Metropolitan France by area, larger than the Netherlands or Denmark.
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is one of the 18 administrative regions of France, the far southeastern on the mainland. Its capital 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. 5,007,977 people live in the region according to the 2015 census.
The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. There is no official boundary, but it is usually considered to extend from Cassis, Toulon or Saint-Tropez on the west to Menton at the France–Italy border in the east, where the Italian Riviera joins. The coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of France. The Principality of Monaco is a semi-enclave within the region, surrounded on three sides by France and fronting the Mediterranean.
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.
Occitania is the historical region in southern Europe where Occitan was historically the main language spoken, and where it is sometimes still used, for the most part as a second language. This cultural area roughly encompasses the southern third of France, as well as part of Spain, Monaco, and smaller parts of Italy. Occitania has been recognized as a linguistic and cultural concept since the Middle Ages, but has never been a legal nor a political entity under this name, although the territory was united in Roman times as the Seven Provinces and in the Early Middle Ages.
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.
This gallery of French coats of arms shows the coats of arms of the Provinces, Régions, and Départements of France, and of certain French cities. They are used to visually identify historical and present-day regions, as well as cities, within France.
The Route nationale 7, or RN 7, is a trunk road (nationale) in France between Paris and the border with Italy. It was also known as Route des vacances, Route bleue, and — sarcastically, during the annual rush to the Mediterranean beaches — the Route de la mort.
The Occitan cross is a heraldic cross, today chiefly used as a symbol of Occitania.
UNESCO designated the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France as a World Heritage site in December 1998. The routes pass through the following regions of France: Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Midi-Pyrénées, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. UNESCO cites the routes' role in "religious and cultural exchange", the development of "specialized edifices" along the routes, and their "exceptional witness to the power and influence of Christian faith among people of all classes and countries in Europe during the Middle Ages".
Occitan nationalism is a social and political movement in Occitania. Nationalists seek self-determination, greater autonomy or the creation of a sovereign state of Occitania. The basis of nationalism is linguistic and cultural although currently the Occitan varieties are minority languages within the language area.
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.
Occitanie or Occitania is the southernmost administrative region of metropolitan France excluding Corsica, created on 1 January 2016 from the former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. The Conseil d'État approved Occitanie as the new name of the region on 28 September 2016, coming into effect on 30 September 2016.
"Bastir!", originally the "Manifeste Occitaniste", now "Bastir Occitanie", is a pan-Occitanist movement mainly involved in French municipal elections of 2014, in French departmental elections of 2015 and in French legislative elections of 2017.