Arrondissements of France
This article is part of the series on
Administrative divisions of France
(incl. overseas regions)
(incl. overseas departments)
Others in Overseas France
The 101 French departments are divided into 335 arrondissements (French pronunciation: [aʁɔ̃dismɑ̃]), which may roughly be translated into English as districts. A more etymologically precise, but less allegorical, definition would be encirclements, from the French arrondir, to encircle. Because no single translation adequately conveys the layered sense of the word, the French term is usually used in English writing.
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.
Role and administration
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. 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.
- "Circonscriptions administratives au 1er janvier 2015 : comparaisons départementales" [Administrative constituencies of 1 January 2015: departmental comparisons] (in French). INSEE. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
- André de Laubadère, Jean-Claude Vénézia, Yves Gaudemet, Traité de droit administratif, 12th edition, LGDJ, 1992, vol. 1, nr 168-169
- Nicolas Verdier, La réforme des arrondissements de 1926 : un choix d'intervention entre espace et territoire, online
- List of the arrondissements suppressed in 1926