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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, pronounced: [ʁe.ʒjɔ̃]), 22 of which are in Metropolitan France, and five of which are overseas. 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] Each mainland region and Corsica are further subdivided into departments, ranging in number from 2 to 8 per region for the metropolitan regions, whereas 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]

General characteristics

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 Land (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

Number of regions controlled by each coalition since 1986.


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Regions and their capitals

Metropolitan regions
Flag[3] Region French name Other local name(s) Capital INSEE No.[1] Derivation or status President
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

P. Richert (UMP)
Aquitaine Aquitaine Occitan: Aquitània
Basque: Akitania
Bordeaux 72 Former Roman province of Aquitaine
plus Guyenne and Gascony
A. Rousset (PS)
Auvergne Auvergne Occitan: Auvèrnhe / Auvèrnha Clermont-Ferrand 83 Former province of Auvergne R. Souchon (PS)
Brittany Bretagne Breton: Breizh
Gallo: Bertaèyn
Rennes 53 Duchy of Brittany J-Y. Le Drian (PS)
Burgundy Bourgogne Burgundian: Bregogne / Borgoégne
Arpitan: Borgogne
Dijon 26 Duchy of Burgundy F. Patriat (PS)
Centre Centre Orléans 24 Located in central France F. Bonneau (PS)
Champagne-Ardenne Champagne-Ardenne Châlons-en-
21 Former province of Champagne J-P. Bachy (PS)
Franche-Comté Franche-Comté Franc-Comtois: Fràntche-Comté
Arpitan: Franche-Comtât
Besançon 43 Free County of Burgundy
M-M. Dufay (PS)
Île-de-France Île-de-France Paris 11 Province of Ile-de-France and parts
of the former province of Champagne
J-P. Huchon (PS)
Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-Roussillon Occitan: Lengadòc-Rosselhon
Catalan: Llenguadoc-Rosselló
Montpellier 91 Former provinces of Languedoc
and Roussillon
C. Bourquin (DVG)
Limousin Limousin Occitan: Lemosin Limoges 74 Former province of Limousin and parts
of Marche, Berry, Auvergne, Poitou
and Angoumois
J-P. Denanot (PS)
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)
J-P. Masseret (PS)
Lower Normandy Basse-Normandie Norman: Basse-Normaundie Caen 25 Western half of former province of Normandy L. Beauvais (PS)
Midi-Pyrénées Midi-Pyrénées Occitan: Miègjorn-Pirenèus
Occitan: Mieidia-Pirenèus
Toulouse 73 None; created for Toulouse M. Malvy (PS)
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-Calais Dutch: Noord-Nauw van Kales Lille 31 Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments D. Percheron (PS)
Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Breton: Broioù al Liger Nantes 52 None; created for Nantes J. Auxiette (PS)
Picardy Picardie Amiens 22 Former province of Picardy C. Gewerc (PS)
Poitou-Charentes Poitou-Charentes Poitiers 54 Former province of Poitou S. Royal (PS)
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Occitan:
   Provença-Aups-Còsta d'Azur
   Prouvènço-Aup-Costo d'Azur
   Provenza-Alpi-Costa Azzurra
Marseille 93 Provence plus the former county of
, principality of Orange and
M. Vauzelle (PS)
Rhône-Alpes Rhône-Alpes Arpitan: Rôno-Arpes
Occitan: Ròse Aups
Lyon 82 Created for Lyon from Dauphiné and
Lyonais provinces
and Savoy
J-J. Queyranne (PS)
Upper Normandy Haute-Normandie Norman: Ĥâote-Normaundie Rouen 23 Eastern half of former province of Normandy A. Le Vern (PS)
The following region has the special status of territorial collectivity.
Corsica Corse Corsican: Corsica
Italian: Corsica
Ajaccio 94 Territorial collectivity P. Giacobbi (PRG)
The following five regions have the special status of overseas region.
French Guiana Guyane Cayenne 03 Overseas region R. Alexandre (PSG)
Guadeloupe Guadeloupe Antillean Creole: Gwadloup Basse-Terre 01 Overseas region V. Lurel (PS)
Martinique Martinique Antillean Creole: Matinik Fort-de-France 02 Overseas region S. Letchimy (PPM)
Mayotte Mayotte Shimaore: Maore
Malagasy: Mahori
Mamoudzou 05 Overseas region D. Zaïdani (DVG)
Reunion La Réunion Reunion Creole: La Rényon Saint-Denis 04 Overseas region D. Robert (UMP)

Arms of the regions of France

See also


External links

  • (English) DMOZ
  • Guide to the regions of France
  • Local websites by region
  • Useful information on France
  • Will 2010 regional elections lead to political shake-up? Radio France Internationale in English
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