Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Region of France


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 44°00′N 6°00′E / 44.000°N 6.000°E / 44.000; 6.000Coordinates: 44°00′N 6°00′E / 44.000°N 6.000°E / 44.000; 6.000
Country  France
Prefecture Marseille
  President Christian Estrosi (LR)
  Total 31,400 km2 (12,100 sq mi)
Population (2012-01-01)
  Total 4,935,576
  Density 160/km2 (410/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code FR-U
GDP (2012)[1] Ranked 3rd
Total €142.4 billion (US$183.1 bn)
Per capita €28,861 (US$37,121)
NUTS Region FR8

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (French pronunciation: [pʁɔ.vɑ̃.s‿alp.kot.da.zyʁ]; Occitan: Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur; Italian: Provenza-Alpi-Costa Azzurra) or PACA is one of the 18 administrative regions of France. Its capital is Marseilles.

The region is roughly coterminous with the former French province of Provence, with the addition of the following adjacent areas:

It encompasses six departments in south-eastern France, bounded to the east by the Italian border, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and by the principality of Monaco, to the north by Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, and to the west by Occitanie, with the Rhône river marking its westernmost border. The six departments are:

The region logo displays the coat of arms created in the 1990s and which combines the coats of arms of the old provinces making up Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

Economically the region is the third most important in France, just behind Île-de-France and Rhône-Alpes. Its GDP in 2012 was €142.4 billion ($US 183.1 billion) and per capita GDP was €28,861 ($US 37,121).



The Marseille area is the most populous of this region with a city population of 850,636 and an urban population of 1,560,921 and a metropolitan population of 1,720,941. Marseille is the second largest city in France after Paris and has the third largest metropolitan population, behind those of Paris and Lyon respectively.

Nice is host to the second-largest population concentration in the region, with a city population of 344,875 and an urban population of 1,005,230, making it the fifth-most populous city in France.


According to a 2009 study, nearly 40% of all newborns in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in 2007 had at least one parent of an immigrant background - mostly Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Maghrebi. This is the second-highest rate after Île-de-France (Greater Paris), where the figure is around 56%.[2] Since the 1960s, the region has been a major immigration centre into France, mostly due to Mediterranean immigration from countries such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, Algeria and Morocco.


Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is divided into six departments. These are Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhone, Var and Vaucluse.

Department Area Population Prefecture Sub-prefecture(s) Population density
04 Alpes-de-Haute-Provence 6,944 km2 (2,681 sq mi) 161,241 Digne-les-Bains Barcelonnette, Castellane and Forcalquier 23/km2 (60/sq mi)
05 Hautes-Alpes 5,549 km2 (2,142 sq mi) 139,554 Gap Briançon 24/km2 (62/sq mi)
06 Alpes-Maritimes 4,299 km2 (1,660 sq mi) 1,084,428 Nice Grasse 252/km2 (650/sq mi)
13 Bouches-du-Rhône 5,112 km2 (1,974 sq mi) 1,984,784 Marseille Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Istres 385/km2 (1,000/sq mi)
83 Var 5,973 km2 (2,306 sq mi) 1,021,669 Toulon Brignoles and Draguignan 196/km2 (510/sq mi)
84 Vaucluse 3,566 km2 (1,377 sq mi) 546,314 Avignon Apt and Carpentras 151/km2 (390/sq mi)


This region has a total area of 31,400 km2. It has a wide variety of landscapes, from the Alps mountains to plains and coastal areas like Nice and Marseille, which form the majority of the land area. The region has a Mediterranean coastline, on which the majority of its population lives. It borders Italy (Liguria and Piedmont) to the east, Monaco (Fontvieille, La Colle, La Rousse, Larvotto, Les Moneghetti, Les Révoires, Saint Michel) in the south-east, and the French regions of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes to the north and Occitanie to the west. The Rhone, Var and Arc rivers run through the region. The borders were untouched by the 2016 re-organization of the French Regions.

This region is very famous for the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera), which spans the glamorous cities of Nice, Cannes and Saint-Tropez.

Regional government and politics

The Regional Council is the legislative body of the region. The President of the regional council is Christian Estrosi (LR) from 2015.

Political tendencies

In the recent years Les Républicains (The Republicans) have gained heavy support in the region and with the 2015 departmental elections, they control the region, which had been narrowly controlled by the Socialist Party with Michel Vauzelle (Parti Socialiste) previously.

The French Communist Party historically had several strongholds in the region from the 1920s onward, including Aubagne, Draguignan, La Ciotat, Beausoleil, Martigues, Gardanne, Arles and some suburbs of Marseille. Though not enough to win the regional elections, the party usually received about 10% of the vote. Beginning with 2002 this declined to 4% and by 2012, dropped below 2%.

The main competition seen in the politics of this region is between Les Républicains and the Parti Socialiste (PS), both deferring in its opinions. According to the most recent elections, the political tendencies are as follows-

Élection / collectivités Les Républicains (centre-right) Parti Socialiste (centre-left)
Presidential Election (2012) (2nd tour) 57.62% (Nicolas Sarkozy) (LR) 42.38% (François Hollande) (PS)
Regional Councils 51 (LR-NC-DVD-FN) 72 (PS-PRG-Verts-PCF-DVG)
General Councils 5 1
Deputies 27 15
Senators 13 9


The regional income per capita is close to national average. The income inequalities are however higher than in other regions: the region is ranked 4th in terms of % of population living above the poverty line. The region is ranked third in terms of GDP. Between 2007 and 2011, the region registered an average annual growth rate of 1.6% GDP (Eurostat), close to the national average annual growth rate of 1.5%. Representing 7.2% of the national GDP over the period, the region is an important economic powerhouse.

In 2013, the region concentrated 7.4% of national employment, with an employment rate of 89.2%. The region's employment has two main characteristics: A higher concentration of seniors than in the rest of France (respectively 27.1% and 24.1% in 2013); A high unemployment rate of 10.8% in 2013 (the national rate was 10.3%). With more than 80% of the regional employment in services in 2010, the regional economy is mostly oriented towards service activities, above the national average of 76.3%. The sector grew between 2000 and 2010 (3.1% on annual average vs. 2.1% in France). While 49% of the labour force is employed in public administration (similar to the national level), the region concentrates more on commercial activities than financial ones; principally because of tourism. 34% of the labour force is employed in retail and trade, against 32% at the national level. Moreover, the sector strongly contributes to growth of the added value (81.5% vs. 77.3% at the national level). The industrial sector, including construction, concentrates 17.1% of the regional employment (vs. 20.6% in France), and contributes to 9.3% of the gross added value, 3.2 points below the French level. Employment in the agricultural sector is lower than at the national level (2.4% against 3.1%). However, it has grown at a rate of 4.1% on annual average between 2000 and 2008, while the rest of the country saw its agricultural employment decline (-2.4%). According to the French national statistical institute (INSEE), the region is characterised by a strong presence of SMEs of less than 500 employees, which represent 91.2% of local enterprises (higher than the national average of 90.9%). Retail activities and tourism explain these figures.

The region's economy is dependent on tourism like most coastal places but also a majority of its economy is dependent on coastal activities.

Paca is the 3rd richest French region and ranks 19th at the European scale. It is going well mainly thanks to its attractivity in terms of tourism; it is indeed one of the favourite worldwide tourist destination welcoming about 34 million tourists every year. The service sector is predominant and provides a good many jobs. In 2009, the region is admittedly affected by the global economic crisis but to a small extent however. It gets out while the going is good and is (after the Paris area) the 2nd French region as regards the setting up of companies. Paca’s motto and key of success could be summed up in one word: innovation.

If tourism is the driving force of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, the region is also in the lead when it comes to innovative sectors, such as high technology, biotechnology, microelectronics... Education for its part is well developed with various universities, international schools, preparatory classes for specialist university courses, engineering, business schools... All these institutes of higher learning help to contribute to the human capital needed on the region to meet current technological challenges.

The region has a total GDP (2012) of €142.4 billion (US$183.1 bn), the third highest in France. It has a Per Capita GDP of €28,861 (US$37,121), slightly higher than the French average. According to a recent survey, a person living in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur has an average annual income of about €37,489 (US$45,755).



The region is in the center of a complex and dense motorways network, in the heart of mediterranean coast. Motorways are operated by ASF, ESCOTA, SMTC, MPM (Marseille Metropolis) and DIR Med (State). In PACA, motorways have the particularity to serve the city centers of big towns, unlike other big cities of France.


High speed services

The region is served by 13 high speed trains stations and one more in the Principality of Monaco. Two stations are situated on the HSL LGV Méditerranée opened in 2001: Avignon TGV and Aix en Provence TGV. The others stations served by high speed services are Avignon Centre, Arles, Miramas, Marseille Saint Charles, Toulon, Les Arcs-Draguignan, Saint Raphaël Valescure, Cannes, Antibes, Nice-Ville and Menton.
Services operated by SNCF TGV :

Services operated by SNCF Ouigo :

Services operated by SNCB/NMBS TGV :

Services operated by CFF Lyria :

Services operated by DB Alleo :

Services operated by Renfe AVE :

Services operated by Eurostar :

Services operated by Thalys (seasonal):

National services

Despite the importance of the region in the national economy and demography, the national services on conventional network are not very high due to the fact of the saturations of the tracks with high speed and regional trains.
Services operated by SNCF Intercités :

Services operated by Thello Eurocity :

Regional services

All regional trains services are operated by SNCF TER Provence-Alpes Côte d'Azur, except between Nice and Digne-les-Bains, operated by CP, the own-region company. The Regional Council of Provence-Alpes Côte d'Azur is the transport authority and defines the services in all region. An attractive fare permits to transport more than 100,000 passengers every day in 750 trains. In all relations, trains are lilting every 15, 20,30, 60 or 120 minutes with long interruption during 10am and 12am.
With only one big line, the tracks are saturated causing delays or cancellations. The region has to rent other trains from other regions to respond at the offer. In 2016, during the second Council of the Year at the Region Hall in Marseille, in front of politics and the new president of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes Côte d'Azur, the SNCF CEO, Guillaume Pepy, has announced the impossibility of the company to respond to the demand. The Saint Charles station, the Marseille's main railway station can't support more than 23 trains an hour and the tracks are too old and not enough to accept an average of the capacity.
The project of new line LN Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur in 2030 could permit to increase trains on tracks with a new crossing of Marseille with a tunnel. Two new stations will be created in the territory of the city and a new line between Cannes and Nice Airport.

Services operated by CP :

Services operated by SNCF are declined with two appellations unlike other regions : TER, normally suburban trains and Intervilles, long-distance regional trains. :
Services operated by SNCF Intervilles :

Services operated by SNCF TER :

Environmental pollution

The mining company Alteo processes bauxite to produce aluminium, resulting in various waste materials such as "boues rouges" (red mud) and arsenic. The dumping of this waste in the marine reserve of Parc National des Calanques (National Park of Marseilles' Creeks) for 6 years has been authorized by the French government in 2015. Company representatives have dismissed environmental concerns as exaggerated and uninformed. [3] [4] [5] [6]
Due to car-traffic, all the urban areas are saturated every day.

In July 2016, during Bastille Day Celebrations in Nice, a terrorist drove a truck through crowds of people at the Promenade des Anglais; He killed many people before police finally stopped him. Many people were killed in the attack, with dozens being injured.

Major communities


The largest cities in the region are Marseille (administrative capital city of the region), Nice, Toulon, and Aix-en-Provence, each with a population exceeding 100,000 inhabitants at the 1999 census. Along with Marseille, Nice is the second most important city in the region with a city proper population of about 350,000 and an urban population exceeding 1 million.

Marseille with an urban area of 2 Million inhabitants, is the largest and capital city of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region. It is also the second most populated city in France, just behind Paris and the city with the third largest metropolitan population in France, behind Paris and Lyon respectively.

Along with Nice and Marseille the region is also made internationally popular with Cannes which, though not a large city (population of 73,603 in 2012), hosts the annual Cannes Film Festival which has highly popularized the region. Also, Arles has become renowned as the city in which Vincent Van Gogh lived and painted 300 paintings.

Toulon is a large military harbour on the Mediterranean coast, with the French naval base placed there. It is the capital of the Var department in the region.

Also, Aix-en-Provence has long been a university town, and to this day remains the most important educational centre in the region.

Below is a list of the most populated cities in the region along with their population (city proper) according to the most recent census.


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