France Regions, Departments, Communes
The territory of France is administered via these four levels: the Nation, Region, Department and Commune. There are 102 departments, grouped into 22 Regions. Every Region is divided into communes, with a commune roughly equating to a township.
Departments of France
France is divided into 96 departments in metropolitan France (the mainland) and 5 overseas departments. The departments were established in 1791 and are mostly named after local geographical features such as rivers and mountains. For example, the Loire and the Var are named after rivers; Alpes-Maritimes named after the Maritime Alps.
The Departments of France are numbered, alphabetically, and are often known and referenced by their numbers.
License plates. Since about 1901 French license plates (plaques d'immatriclation) had a group of numbers followed by the 2-digit department number. A national pastime in France was to identify the department name for the cars you saw on the road, especially on vacation. Alas, in 2009 the license plate numbering scheme was changed to a more Euro-flavored system. The department number can still be specified, in small numbers in the upper-right corner, but it's optional.
Communes of France
A French Commune is approximately a township. A commune can be a very large city, such as Paris or Marseille. A commune is often a few thousand hectares of land with a main town or village, so a particular commune is often related to its town, or visa-versa. There are many communes, including many in Provence, that contain two or more (sometimes many) small villages or hamlets.
A Region is a group of Departments. France is divided into 22 Metropolitan Regions (an 5 overseas Regions), each with an identifying theme and culture. They were created in 1982 in an effort to help decentralize government, and residents of a particular Region get very attached to their Region as well as to their Department.
The Provence area of France includes parts of the Provence Alpes Côte-d'Azur (PACA), Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées Regions.
In 2016 the 27 existing Regions are being reduced to 18, which some French people are calling super-regions. The new Regions will still be groups of Departments, but some of the Regions will have more departments than before, and some Departments will find themselves moved from one Region to another. Not everybody in the country is happy with the change.
All of the French Regions are listed below, in alphabetical order. Each region has a list of the France departments that make up that region. The departments are listed in alphabetical order, and include the department number. For some of the departments we have mentioned the main town(s).
Bas-Rhin (67): Strasbourg
Haut-Rhin (68): Colmar , Mulhouse
Dordogne (24): Périgueux - Lascaux Grotto, Vézère Valley, Cénac-et-Saint-Julien
Gironde (33): Bordeaux
Landes (40): Dax
Lot-et-Garonne (47): Agen
Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64): Bayonne, Pau
Calvados (14): Caen, Deauville, Honfleur
Manche (50): Saint Lô, Cherbourg, Mont-Saint-Michel
Côte-d'Or (21): Dijon
Nièvre (58): Nevers
Saône-et-Loire (71): Mâcon
Yonne (89): Auxerre
Côte-d'Armor (22): St Brieuc, Dinan
Finistère (29): Brest, Quimper
Ille-et-Vilaine (35): Renne
Morbihan (56): Lorient, Vannes
Cher (18): Bourges, Vierzon
Eure-et-Loir (28): Chartres
Indre (36): Chateauroux, Menetou-sur-Nahon
Indre-et-Loire (37): Tours, Chenonceaux
Loir-et-Cher (41): Blois, Chambord, Vendôme
Loiret (45): Orléans
Ardennes (08): Charleville-Mézières
Aube (10): Troyes
Haute-Marne (52): Saint Dizier
Marne (51): Reims
The Island of Beauty
Doubs (25): Besançon
Haute-Saône (70): Lure
Jura (39): Dole
Territoire-de-Belfort (90): Belfort
Eure (27): Evreux
Seine-Maritime (76): Le Havre, Rouen, Diepe
Essonne (91): South of Paris
Hauts-de-Seine (92): Paris suburbs W, NW, SW
Seine-et-Marne (77): E, NE, SE of Paris
Seine-Saint-Denis (93): Paris suburbs NE
Ville de Paris (75)
Yvelines (78); W, NW, SW of Paris
Covers the south of France from the Camargue to the Spanish border near Perpignan. Languedoc-Roussillon includes the towns of Carcassonne, Narbonne, Montpellier and Nîmes, and stretches northward to include the department of Lozère and the town of Mende.
Lozère (48): Mende
Pyrénées-Oriental (66): Perpignan
Corrèze (19): Brive-la-Gaillarde
Creuse (23): Guéret
Haute-Vienne (87): Limoges
Meurthe-et-Moselle (54): Nancy
Meuse (55): Verdun
Moselle (57): Metz
Vosges (88): Epinal
The southwestern region of France that includes the mountains of the Pyrénées north of the Spanish border and the Principality of Andorra. Towns of the Midi-Pyrénées [include] Tarbes and Foix in the south, past the "Ville de Rose" of Toulouse to Cahors in the north.
Ariège (09): Foix
Aveyron (12): Rodez, Millau
Gers (32): Auch
Haute-Garonne (31): Toulouse
Haute-Pyrénées (65): Tarbes, Lourdes
Lot (46): Cahors,
Tarn (81): Albi
Nord (59): Lille, Dunkerque
Pas-de-Calais (62): Calais
Pays de la Loire
Loire-Atlantique (44): Nantes
Maine-et-Loire (49): Angers, Saumur
Mayenne (53): Mayenne
Sarthe (72): Le Mans
Vendée (85): Le Roche-sur-Yon
Aisne (02): Saint Quentin, Soissons
Oise (60): Beauvais, Compiègne
Somme (80): Amiens
Charente (16): Angouleme, Cognac
Charente-Maritime (17): La Rochelle
Deux-Sèvres (79): Niort
Vienne (86): Poitiers
Provence Alpes Côte-d'Azur (PACA)
is the southeastern region of France, famed for the tourism-focused French Riviera beaches and seaside resorts, from the Italian Riviera to Saint Tropez and Marseille.
Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04): Digne-les-Bains
Haute-Alpes (05): Gap, Briançon
Var (83): Toulon
Vaucluse (84): Avignon
Ain (01): Bourg-en-Bresse
Ardèche (07): Tournon-sur-Rhône
Drôme (26): Valence, Montélimar
Haute-Savoie (74): Annecy
Isère (38): Grenoble, Vienne
Loire (42): Saint Etienne, Roanne
Rhône (69): Lyon
Savoie (73): Chambery