Regions of France

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Région  (French)
Category Unitary State
Location French Republic
Number 27
Possible status Overseas region (5)
Région d'outre-mer
Additional status Territorial collectivity
Collectivité Territoriale
Populations 229,040 (French Guiana) – 11,786,234 (Île-de-France)
Areas 436 square miles (1,130 km2) (Martinique) – 32,253 square miles (83,530 km2) (French Guiana)
Government Region Government, National Government
Subdivisions Department

This article is part of the series on
Administrative divisions of France


(incl. overseas regions)

(incl. overseas departments)

Urban communities
Agglomeration communities
Commune communities
Syndicates of New Agglomeration

Associated communes
Municipal arrondissements

Others in Overseas France

Overseas collectivities
Sui generis collectivity
Overseas country
Overseas territory
Clipperton Island

France is divided into 27 administrative regions (French: région, [ʁe.ʒjɔ̃]), 22 of which are in Metropolitan France and five of which are overseas regions. Corsica is a territorial collectivity (French collectivité territoriale), but is considered a region in mainstream usage, and is even shown as such on the INSEE website.[1] The mainland regions and Corsica are each further subdivided into departments, ranging in number from 2 to 8 per region for the metropolitan regions; the overseas regions technically consist of only one department each.

The term region 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 2016, the number of regions will be reduced from 27 to 18 through amalgamation.

General characteristics[edit]

In mainland France (excluding Corsica), the median land area of a region is 25,809 km2 (9,965 sq mi), which is slightly larger than the U.S. state of Vermont, 4% of the median land area of a Canadian province, or 15% larger than the median land area of a German Regierungsbezirk.

In 2004, the median population of a region in continental France was 2,329,000 inhabitants, three quarters of the median population of a German state, but more than twice the median population of a Canadian province.


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[edit]

Number of regions controlled by each coalition since 1986.


Regions and their capitals[edit]

Metropolitan regions
Flag[3] Region French name Other local name(s) Capital INSEE No.[1] Derivation or etymology President
Flag of Alsace Alsace Alsace Alsatian: Elsàss
German: Elsass
Strasbourg 42 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

Philippe Richert (UMP)
Flag of Aquitaine Aquitaine Aquitaine Occitan: Aquitània
Basque: Akitania
Saintongeais : Aguiéne
Bordeaux 72 Guyenne and Gascony Alain Rousset (PS)
Flag of Auvergne Auvergne Auvergne Occitan: Auvèrnhe / Auvèrnha Clermont-Ferrand 83 Former province of Auvergne René Souchon (PS)
Flag of Brittany Brittany Bretagne Breton: Breizh
Gallo: Bertaèyn
Rennes 53 Duchy of Brittany Jean-Yves Le Drian (PS)
Flag of Burgundy Burgundy Bourgogne Burgundian: Bregogne / Borgoégne
Arpitan: Borgogne
Dijon 26 Duchy of Burgundy François Patriat (PS)
Flag of Centre-Val de Loire Centre-Val de Loire[4] Centre-Val de Loire Orléans 24 Located in north-central France (central part of the original French language area)

Straddles the middle of the Loire Valley

François Bonneau (PS)
Flag of Champagne-Ardenne Champagne-Ardenne Champagne-Ardenne Châlons-en-
21 Former province of Champagne Jean-Paul Bachy (PS)
Flag of Franche-Comté Franche-Comté Franche-Comté Franc-Comtois: Fràntche-Comté
Arpitan: Franche-Comtât
Besançon 43 Free County of Burgundy
Marie-Marguerite Dufay (PS)
Flag of Île-de-France Île-de-France Île-de-France Paris 11 Province of Ile-de-France and parts
of the former province of Champagne
Jean-Paul Huchon (PS)
Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon Occitan: Lengadòc-Rosselhon
Catalan: Llenguadoc-Rosselló
Montpellier 91 Former provinces of Languedoc
and Roussillon
Christian Bourquin (DVG)
Flag of Limousin Limousin Limousin Occitan: Lemosin Limoges 74 Former province of Limousin and parts
of Marche, Berry, Auvergne, Poitou
and Angoumois
Jean-Paul Denanot (PS)
Flag of Lorraine Lorraine Lorraine German: Lothringen
Lorraine Franconian: Lottringe
Metz 41 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)
Jean-Pierre Masseret (PS)
Flag of Lower Normandy Lower Normandy Basse-Normandie Norman: Basse-Normaundie Caen 25 Western half of former province of Normandy Laurent Beauvais (PS)
Flag of Midi-Pyrénées Midi-Pyrénées Midi-Pyrénées Occitan: Miègjorn-Pirenèus
Occitan: Mieidia-Pirenèus
Spanish: Mediodía-Pirineos
Toulouse 73 None; created for Toulouse Martin Malvy (PS)
Flag of Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-Calais Lille 31 Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments Daniel Percheron (PS)
Flag of Pays-de-la-Loire Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Breton: Broioù al Liger Nantes 52 None; created for Nantes Jacques Auxiette (PS)
Flag of Picardie (Picardy) Picardy Picardie Amiens 22 Former province of Picardy Claude Gewerc (PS)
Flag of Poitou-Charentes Poitou-Charentes Poitou-Charentes Occitan: Peitau-Charantas
Poitevin and Saintongeais : Poetou-Chérentes
Poitiers 54 Former provinces of Angoumois, Aunis, Poitou and Saintonge Ségolène Royal (PS)
Flag of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) Occitan:
   Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur
   Prouvènço-Aup-Costo d'Azur
Marseille 93 Provence plus the former county of
, principality of Orange, Comtat Venaissin and a part of Dauphiné
Michel Vauzelle (PS)
Flag of Rhône-Alpes Rhône-Alpes Rhône-Alpes Arpitan: Rôno-Arpes
Occitan: Ròse Aups
Lyon 82 Created for Lyon from Dauphiné and
Lyonnais provinces
and Savoy
Jean-Jack Queyranne
Flag of Haute-Normandie Upper Normandy Haute-Normandie Norman: Ĥâote-Normaundie Rouen 23 Eastern half of former province of Normandy Alain Le Vern (PS)
One insular European region has the special status of territorial collectivity.
Flag of Corsica Corsica Corse Corsican: Corsica Ajaccio 94 Territorial collectivity Paul Giacobbi (PRG)
The following five insular overseas departments also have the special status of overseas region.
Flag of French Guiana French Guiana Guyane Cayenne 03 Overseas region Rodolphe Alexandre (PSG)
Flag of Guadeloupe Guadeloupe Guadeloupe Antillean Creole: Gwadloup Basse-Terre 01 Overseas region Victorin Lurel (PS)
Flag of Martinique Martinique Martinique Antillean Creole: Matinik Fort-de-France 02 Overseas region Serge Letchimy (PPM)
unofficial flag of Mayotte Mayotte Mayotte Shimaore: Maore
Malagasy: Mahori
Mamoudzou 05 Overseas region Daniel Zaïdani (DVG)
Flag of Réunion Réunion La Réunion Reunion Creole: La Rényon Saint-Denis 04 Overseas region Didier Robert (UMP)

Unofficial Arms of the regions of France (before 2016)[5][edit]

France-Regions et blasons.svg

Reform and mergers of regions[edit]

Regions as instituted by the National Assembly in 2014.

In 2014, the French Parliament (the National Assembly and the Senate) passed a law that will reduce the number of regions in Metropolitan France from 22 to 13[why?]. The new regions will take effect on 1 January 2016.[6]

Regions to merge:

Current region New region (interim name)
Burgundy Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Aquitaine Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes
Lower Normandy Normandy
Upper Normandy
Alsace Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine
Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie
Auvergne Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Regions that will remain unchanged:

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

The text of the law gives interim names for most of the new regions by combining the names of the existing regions, e.g. the region composed of Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes and Limousin is Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes. However, the combined region of Upper and Lower Normandy is simply called "Normandy" (Normandie). Permanent names will be proposed by the new regional councils and confirmed by the Conseil d'Etat by 1 July 2016.[7] The legislation defining the new regions also allowed the Centre region to officially change its name to "Centre-Val de Loire"; this change was effective from January 2015.[8]

Previous proposals[edit]

Overseas regions[edit]

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.
Outre-mer en sans Terre Adelie.png

See also[edit]




  1. ^ a b "Carte des Régions" (in French). INSEE. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  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. ^ New name as of 17 January 2015; formerly named Centre.
  5. ^ For most of the regions, these arms are not official.
  6. ^ La carte à 13 régions définitivement adoptée, Le Monde, 17 December 2014, accessed 2 January 2015
  7. ^ Quel nom pour la nouvelle région ? Vous avez choisi..., Sud-Ouest, 4 December 2014, accessed 2 January 2015
  8. ^ "Journal officiel of 17 January 2015". Légifrance (in French). 2015-01-17. Retrieved 2015-03-10. 

External links[edit]

Overseas regions