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Arrondissements of France

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An arrondissement (French pronunciation: [aʁɔ̃dismɑ̃] )[1] is the third level of administrative division in France generally corresponding to the territory overseen by a subprefect. As of 2023, the 101 French departments are divided into 333 arrondissements (including 13 overseas).[2]

The capital of an arrondissement is called a subprefecture. When an arrondissement contains the prefecture (capital) of the department, that prefecture is the capital of the arrondissement, acting both as a prefecture and as a subprefecture. Arrondissements are further divided into cantons and communes.

The term arrondissement can be roughly translated into English as district.[3]

Some municipalities in Quebec are divided into arrondissements, reflecting the province’s historical link to New France.

Role and administration[edit]

The administration of an arrondissement is assigned to a subprefect (French: sous-préfet) who assists the departmental prefect (préfet).

Unlike French regions, departments and communes, arrondissements do not have the status of legal entity in public law. In addition, unlike those other administrative divisions, they are not run by elected officials, but by political appointees, officials appointed by the French president.


The concept of arrondissements was proposed several times as an administrative reform during the Ancien Régime, notably by the intendant of the généralité of Brittany, Caze de La Bove, in his Mémoire concernant les subdélégués de l'intendance de Bretagne in 1775.

The arrondissements were created after the French Revolution by the Loi du 28 pluviôse in the year VIII of the Republican Calendar (17 February 1800) and replaced "districts". In certain periods in French history, they have served a role in legislative elections, especially during the Third Republic. In 1926, 106 arrondissements were suppressed by the government.[4][5] While it claimed it was to achieve fiscal savings, some political analysts considered the results electoral manipulation. Some of these suppressed arrondissements were restored in 1942.


The most recent creations and disestablishments of arrondissements are listed in the table below.

Year Department Created arrondissement(s) Disbanded arrondissement(s)
2015 Moselle Forbach-Boulay-Moselle Forbach, Boulay-Moselle
2015 Moselle Metz Metz-Campagne, Metz-Ville
2015 Moselle Sarrebourg-Château-Salins Château-Salins, Sarrebourg
2015 Moselle Thionville Thionville-Est, Thionville-Ouest
2015 Bas-Rhin Haguenau-Wissembourg Haguenau, Wissembourg
2015 Bas-Rhin Strasbourg Strasbourg-Campagne, Strasbourg-Ville
2015 Haut-Rhin Colmar-Ribeauvillé Colmar, Ribeauvillé
2015 Haut-Rhin Thann-Guebwiller Guebwiller, Thann
2017 Loire-Atlantique Châteaubriant-Ancenis Ancenis, Châteaubriant
2017 Marne Sainte-Menehould


Most departments have three or four arrondissements. The departments of Paris and of the Territoire de Belfort have only one, while the department of Pas-de-Calais has seven. Mayotte has none.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Circonscriptions administratives au 1er janvier 2015 : comparaisons départementales" [Administrative constituencies of 1 January 2015: departmental comparisons] (in French). INSEE. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  2. ^ Téléchargement - Année 2019: Liste des arrondissements
  3. ^ André de Laubadère, Jean-Claude Vénézia, Yves Gaudemet, Traité de droit administratif, 12th edition, LGDJ, 1992, vol. 1, nr. 168–169.
  4. ^ Nicolas Verdier, La réforme des arrondissements de 1926 : un choix d'intervention entre espace et territoire, online
  5. ^ List of the arrondissements suppressed in 1926