The regions of France

The French regions are the country's largest administrative subdivision and number 18, of which 13 are metropolitan (including Corsica, which is a distinct type of territorial community) and 5 overseas.

They are governed by Title XII of the French Constitution of 1958 and by Part IV of the General Code of Territorial Authorities: they are territorial authorities, endowed with legal personality, to which functions of administrative decentralisation and autonomy are attributed (Mayotte has no regional council but a single assembly acting as a regional and departmental council).

The metropolitan regions are in turn divided into at least two departments, while the overseas regions each comprise only one department, i.e. a total of 96 departments.

Until 31 December 2015, there were 22 regions in metropolitan France.

Institutional Profiles

Governing bodies

The deliberative body of the region is the regional council, elected by direct universal suffrage every six years. Executive power is vested in the president of the region, who is the head of local government. He is elected by the Regional Council at its first meeting following its renewal.

There is also a non-elective advisory body, the regional economic and social council, which assists the regional council by giving an opinion on the manoeuvres to be implemented; however, its opinions are in no way binding.

Each region also has a prefect. The regional prefect becomes the prefect of the capital department. It represents the French government on the territory.

 

Prerogative

The French regions do not have legislative autonomy, but do have regulatory power. They can levy taxes (or rather, the national government reimburses them for part of the taxes they collect) and have a budget, even if it is not considerable. Their main function under the law is the construction of schools and the management of local public transport, particularly for TERs; in March 2004, the French government announced a controversial plan to transfer control of non-teaching staff to the regions. Critics of this plan questioned whether sufficient fiscal resources could be transferred to the regions for these additional burdens, and also that such measures would increase inequalities between regions.

In addition, the regions have considerable discretionary power over infrastructure spending (education, public transport, support for universities and research, support for businesses). As a result, being president of a highly developed region such as Île-de-France or Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is considered a high-profile position.

From time to time, there are discussions on granting limited legislative autonomy to the regions, but these proposals are always controversial. There are also proposals to abolish local authorities in the départements, which would be merged into the regions, while the départements would remain merely administrative subdivisions.

The 2014 reform

Law No. 2015-29 of 16 January 2015, approved on 16 December 2014 and in force since the 2015 regional elections, provided for the creation of 7 new regions in metropolitan France by merging 16 regions as part of the major reform of local authorities. In particular, the following regions were created, whose names, with the exception of Normandy, were initially provisional. On 30 September 2016, the government formalised the definitive new names of the 6 new regions that had provisional names.

  • List of the new regions, with the deleted regions in brackets :Grand Est, the provisional name was Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine (Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine) ;
  • New Aquitaine, the provisional name was Aquitaine-Limosino-Poitou-Charentes (Aquitaine, Limousin, Poitou-Charentes);
    Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the provisional name became definitive (Auvergne, Rhône-Alpes);
  • Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, the provisional name has become definitive (Bourgogne, Franche-Comté);
  • Occitania, the provisional name was Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées (Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrénées) ;
  • Haute France, the provisional name was Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie (Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Picardie);
  • Normandy (Haute-Normandie, Basse-Normandie).

In addition, the Centre region was renamed Centre-Valle de la Loire.

As a result of the reform, the number of regions in mainland France has increased from 22 to 13 (plus the 4 overseas regions and Mayotte). 

Maps of metropolitan areas

The region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

The region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes account 12 departments and groups 4039 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Lyon (69), Saint-Étienne (42), Grenoble (38), Villeurbanne (69), Clermont-Ferrand (63), Lyon 3e arrondissement (69), Lyon 8e arrondissement (69), Lyon 7e arrondissement (69), Valence (26), Vénissieux (69), Chambéry (73), Annecy (74).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Merged regions
Departments
  • Ain
  • Allier
  • Ardèche
  • Cantal
  • Drôme
  • Isère
  • Loire
  • Haute-Loire
  • Puy-de-Dôme
  • Rhône
  • Savoie
  • Haute-Savoie

The region Hauts-de-France

Hauts-de-France

The region Hauts-de-France account 5 departments and groups 3789 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Lille (59), Amiens (80), Roubaix (59), Tourcoing (59), Dunkerque (59), Calais (62), Villeneuve-d'Ascq (59), Saint-Quentin (02), Beauvais (60), Valenciennes (59), Boulogne-sur-Mer (62), Wattrelos (59).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Hauts-de-France
Departments
  • Aisne
  • Nord
  • Oise
  • Pas-de-Calais
  • Somme

The region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

The region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur account 6 departments and groups 962 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Marseille (13), Nice (06), Toulon (83), Aix-en-Provence (13), Avignon (84), Marseille 13e arrondissement (13), Marseille 8e arrondissement (13), Marseille 15e arrondissement (13), Marseille 9e arrondissement (13), Antibes (06), Cannes (06), Seyne-sur-Mer (83).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Departments
  • Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
  • Hautes-Alpes
  • Alpes-Maritimes
  • Bouches-du-Rhône
  • Var
  • Vaucluse

The region Grand-Est

Grand-Est

The region Grand-Est account 10 departments and groups 5121 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Strasbourg (67), Reims (51), Metz (57), Mulhouse (68), Nancy (54), Colmar (68), Troyes (10), Charleville-Mézières (08), Châlons-en-Champagne (51), Thionville (57), Haguenau (67), Épinal (88).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Grand-Est
Departments
  • Ardennes
  • Aube
  • Marne
  • Haute-Marne
  • Meurthe-et-Moselle
  • Meuse
  • Moselle
  • Bas-Rhin
  • Haut-Rhin
  • Vosges

The region Occitanie

Occitanie

The region Occitanie account 13 departments and groups 4454 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Toulouse (31), Montpellier (34), Nîmes (30), Perpignan (66), Béziers (34), Montauban (82), Narbonne (11), Albi (81), Carcassonne (11), Sète (34), Castres (81), Tarbes (65).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Occitanie
Departments
  • Ariège
  • Aude
  • Aveyron
  • Gard
  • Haute-Garonne
  • Gers
  • Hérault
  • Lot
  • Lozère
  • Hautes-Pyrénées
  • Pyrénées-Orientales
  • Tarn
  • Tarn-et-Garonne

The region Normandie

Normandie

The region Normandie account 5 departments and groups 2651 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Havre (76), Rouen (76), Caen (14), Cherbourg-en-Cotentin (50), Évreux (27), Dieppe (76), Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray (76), Sotteville-lès-Rouen (76), Alençon (61), Grand-Quevilly (76), Vernon (27), Petit-Quevilly (76).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Normandie
Departments
  • Calvados
  • Eure
  • Manche
  • Orne
  • Seine-Maritime

The region Nouvelle Aquitaine

Nouvelle Aquitaine

The region Nouvelle Aquitaine account 12 departments and groups 4314 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Bordeaux (33), Limoges (87), Poitiers (86), Pau (64), Rochelle (17), Mérignac (33), Pessac (33), Niort (79), Bayonne (64), Brive-la-Gaillarde (19), Angoulême (16), Talence (33).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Nouvelle Aquitaine
Departments
  • Charente
  • Charente-Maritime
  • Corrèze
  • Creuse
  • Dordogne
  • Gironde
  • Landes
  • Lot-et-Garonne
  • Pyrénées-Atlantiques
  • Deux-Sèvres
  • Vienne
  • Haute-Vienne

The region Centre-Val de Loire

Centre-Val de Loire

The region Centre-Val de Loire account 6 departments and groups 1757 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Tours (37), Orléans (45), Bourges (18), Blois (41), Châteauroux (36), Chartres (28), Joué-lès-Tours (37), Dreux (28), Vierzon (18), Fleury-les-Aubrais (45), Olivet (45), Saint-Jean-de-Braye (45).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Centre-Val de Loire
Merged regions
Departments
  • Cher
  • Eure-et-Loir
  • Indre
  • Indre-et-Loire
  • Loir-et-Cher
  • Loiret

The region Corse

Corse

The region Corse account 2 departments and groups 360 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Ajaccio (2A), Bastia (2B), Porto-Vecchio (2A), Borgo (2B), Corte (2B), Biguglia (2B), Calvi (2B), Furiani (2B), Lucciana (2B), Ghisonaccia (2B), Propriano (2A), Bastelicaccia (2A).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Corse
Merged regions
Departments
  • Corse-du-Sud
  • Haute-Corse

The region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

The region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté account 8 departments and groups 3702 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Dijon (21), Besançon (25), Belfort (90), Chalon-sur-Saône (71), Auxerre (89), Nevers (58), Mâcon (71), Montbéliard (25), Sens (89), Dole (39), Creusot (71), Beaune (21).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Departments
  • Côte-d'Or
  • Doubs
  • Jura
  • Nièvre
  • Haute-Saône
  • Saône-et-Loire
  • Yonne
  • Territoire de Belfort

The region Bretagne

Bretagne

The region Bretagne account 4 departments and groups 1208 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Rennes (35), Brest (29), Quimper (29), Lorient (56), Vannes (56), Saint-Brieuc (22), Saint-Malo (35), Lanester (56), Fougères (35), Lannion (22), Concarneau (29), Ploemeur (56).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Bretagne
Merged regions
Departments
  • Côtes-d'Armor
  • Finistère
  • Ille-et-Vilaine
  • Morbihan

The region Pays de la Loire

Pays de la Loire

The region Pays de la Loire account 5 departments and groups 1238 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Nantes (44), Angers (49), Mans (72), Saint-Nazaire (44), Cholet (49), Roche-sur-Yon (85), Laval (53), Saint-Herblain (44), Rezé (44), Saumur (49), Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire (44), Sèvremoine (49).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Pays de la Loire
Merged regions
Departments
  • Loire-Atlantique
  • Maine-et-Loire
  • Mayenne
  • Sarthe
  • Vendée

The region Île-de-France

Île-de-France

The region Île-de-France account 8 departments and groups 1288 cities in 2019.

The biggest cities are Paris (75), Paris 15e arrondissement (75), Paris 20e arrondissement (75), Paris 18e arrondissement (75), Paris 19e arrondissement (75), Paris 13e arrondissement (75), Paris 17e arrondissement (75), Paris 16e arrondissement (75), Paris 11e arrondissement (75), Paris 12e arrondissement (75), Paris 14e arrondissement (75), Boulogne-Billancourt (92).

Flag of the region
Flag of the region Île-de-France
Merged regions
Departments
  • Seine-et-Marne
  • Yvelines
  • Essonne
  • Hauts-de-Seine
  • Seine-Saint-Denis
  • Val-de-Marne
  • Val-d'Oise
  • Paris

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