Regions of France

"Région" redirects here. For other uses, see Region (disambiguation).
Région  (French)
Category Unitary State
Location French Republic
Number 18
Possible status Overseas region (5)
Région d'outre-mer
Additional status Territorial collectivity
Collectivité Territoriale
Populations 212,645 (Mayotte) – 12,005,077 (Île-de-France)
Areas 376 km2 (145 sq mi) (Mayotte) – 84,061 km2 (32,456 sq mi) (Nouvelle-Aquitaine)
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 18 administrative regions (French: région, [ʁe.ʒjɔ̃]), including 13 metropolitan regions and 5 overseas regions.[1] The 13 metropolitan regions (including 12 mainland regions and Corsica) are each further subdivided into 2 to 13 departments, while the overseas regions consist of only one department each and hence are also referred to as "overseas departments". The current legal concept of region was adopted in 1982, and in 2016 what had been 27 regions was reduced to 18.


The term région 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 was reduced from 27 to 18 through amalgamation.

Reform and mergers of regions

In 2014, the French parliament passed a law reducing the number of metropolitan regions from 22 to 13 with effect from 1 January 2016.[3]

French regions from 2011 to 2015 (Note: Centre-Val de Loire was called "Centre" until 2015; Mayotte became a region in 2014; Corsica is de facto a region).

The law gives interim names for most of the new regions by combining the names of the former 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 were to be proposed by the new regional councils by 1 July 2016 and new names confirmed by the Conseil d'État by 30 September 2016.[4][5] The legislation defining the new regions also allowed the Centre region to officially change its name to "Centre-Val de Loire" with effect from January 2015.[6] Two regions, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, opted to retain their interim names.[7][8]

Regions that merged:

Former region New region (interim name) New region (final name)
Burgundy Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Aquitaine Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Lower Normandy Normandy Normandy
Upper Normandy
Alsace Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine Grand Est
Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées Occitanie
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Hauts-de-France
Auvergne Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Regions that remained unchanged:

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

Overview of region division proposals

Regions and their capitals

Regions of France
Region French name Other local name(s) Capital INSEE No.[9] Derivation or etymology President
Grand-Est Grand-Est German: Großer Osten Strasbourg 44 The name translates to "Great East," encompassing the three northeastern former regions of Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, and Lorraine, themselves inspired by former French provinces disbanded in 1790 Philippe Richert (LR)
New Aquitaine Nouvelle-Aquitaine Occitan: Nòva Aquitània / Nava Aquitània / Novela Aquitània
Basque: Akitania Berria
Bordeaux 75 Reflects an expanded, or "new," Aquitaine region, which merged with the regions of Limousin and Poitou-Charentes; Aquitaine (later known as Guyenne), Limousin, and Poitou were historic French provinces abolished in 1790 Alain Rousset (PS)
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Occitan: Auvèrnhe-Ròse-Aups
Arpitan: Ôvèrgne-Rôno-Arpes
Lyon 84 This region is a merger of the former regions of Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes; these were named, respectively, after the historic province of Auvergne abolished in 1790 and after the former region's position along the Rhône river and in the Alps Laurent Wauquiez (LR)
Burgundy-Franche-Comté Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Arpitan: Borgogne-Franche-Comtât Dijon 27 The region is a merger of the former regions of Burgundy and Franche-Comté; these regions were themselves based on French provinces abolished in 1790 Marie-Guite Dufay (PS)
Brittany Bretagne Breton: Breizh
Gallo: Bertaèyn
Rennes 53 The region covers 80% of the former province of Brittany, abolished 1790 Jean-Yves Le Drian (PS)
Centre-Val de Loire[10] Centre-Val de Loire Orléans 24 Translating to "Center–Loire Valley," the region has no historic basis, but is geographically located in north-central France and straddles the middle of the Loire Valley François Bonneau (PS)
Île-de-France Île-de-France Paris 11 The modern region encompasses much of the former province of Île-de-France, abolished 1790 Valérie Pécresse (LR)
Occitania Occitanie Occitan: Occitània
Catalan: Occitània
Toulouse 76 Encompasses much of the southern areas of France where Occitan, or langue d'oc, dialects are spoken; is a merger of the Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions. Languedoc and Roussillon were historic provinces abolished in 1790; the Midi refers to southern France, and Pyrenees to the region's position in this mountain range Carole Delga (PS)
Hauts-de-France Hauts-de-France Lille 32 Occupying the northern tip of the country, this region's name translates to "Upper France". It is a merger of the former regions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie, which recalled a province of France abolished in 1790 Xavier Bertrand (LR)
Normandy Normandie Norman: Normaundie Rouen 28 The region is largely coterminous with the former province of Normandy, abolished 1790; it is a merger of the former regions of Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy Hervé Morin (UDI)
Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Breton: Broioù al Liger Nantes 52 The name translates to "Land(s) of the Loire," as the Loire river is the major waterway in the area; the region has no historic basis, but was created as a zone of influence for the city of Nantes Bruno Retailleau (LR)
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) Provençal: Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur
(Prouvènço-Aup-Costo d'Azur)
Marseille 93 Consists of the former province of Provence as well as some adjacent territories in the French Alps and along the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) Christian Estrosi (LR)
Corsica Corse Corsican: Corsica Ajaccio 94 The region is composed entirely of the island of Corsica, a French territorial collectivity Gilles Simeoni (Inseme per a Corsica)
The following five overseas departments also have the special status of overseas region.
French Guiana Guyane Cayenne 03 Overseas region Rodolphe Alexandre (PSG)
Guadeloupe Guadeloupe Antillean Creole: Gwadloup Basse-Terre 01 Overseas region Ary Chalus (GUSR)
Martinique Martinique Antillean Creole: Matinik Fort-de-France 02 Overseas region Alfred Marie-Jeanne (MIM)
Mayotte Mayotte Shimaore: Maore
Malagasy: Mahori
Mamoudzou 05 Overseas region Daniel Zaïdani (DVG)
Réunion La Réunion Reunion Creole: La Rényon Saint-Denis 04 Overseas region Didier Robert (LR)

Regions from 1982 to 2016

Between 1982 and 2015, there were 22 regions in Metropolitan France. Before 2011, there were four overseas regions (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion); in 2011 Mayotte became the fifth.


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

Number of regions controlled by each coalition since 1986.

Elections Presidencies Map
1986 5 21
1992 4 21 1
1998 10 15 1
Elections Presidencies Map
2004 23 2 1
2010 23 3
2015 7 8 2

Overseas regions

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.

See also




  1. 1 2 "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. La carte à 13 régions définitivement adoptée, Le Monde, 17 December 2014, accessed 2 January 2015
  4. Quel nom pour la nouvelle région ? Vous avez choisi..., Sud-Ouest, 4 December 2014, accessed 2 January 2015
  5. Nouveau nom de la région : dernier jour de campagne, Occitanie en tête
  6. "Journal officiel of 17 January 2015". Légifrance (in French). 2015-01-17. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
  9. "La nouvelle nomenclature des codes régions" (in French). INSEE. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  10. 1 2 New name as of 17 January 2015; formerly named Centre.
  11. These flags are not official.
Overseas regions
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