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All information gathered first-hand, since 1995



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.


Regions

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).

Alsace

Bas-Rhin (67): Strasbourg

Haut-Rhin (68): Colmar , Mulhouse

Aquitaine

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

Auvergne

Allier (03)

Cantal (15)

Haut-Loire (43)

Puy-de-Dôme (63)

Basse-Normandie

Calvados (14): Caen, Deauville, Honfleur

Manche (50): Saint Lô, Cherbourg, Mont-Saint-Michel

Orne (61)

Bourgogne

Côte-d'Or (21): Dijon

Nièvre (58): Nevers

Saône-et-Loire (71): Mâcon

Yonne (89): Auxerre

Bretagne

Côte-d'Armor (22): St Brieuc, Dinan

Finistère (29): Brest, Quimper

Ille-et-Vilaine (35): Renne

Morbihan (56): Lorient, Vannes

Centre

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

Champagne-Ardenne

Ardennes (08): Charleville-Mézières

Aube (10): Troyes

Haute-Marne (52): Saint Dizier

Marne (51): Reims

Corse (Corsica)

The Island of Beauty

Corse-du-Sud (102A)

Haute-Corse (102B)

Franche-Comté

Doubs (25): Besançon

Haute-Saône (70): Lure

Jura (39): Dole

Territoire-de-Belfort (90): Belfort

Haute-Normandie

Eure (27): Evreux

Seine-Maritime (76): Le Havre, Rouen, Diepe

Ile-de-France

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

Languedoc-Roussillon

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.

Aude (11): Carcassonne, Narbonne, Limoux

Gard (30): Nîmes, Aigues-Mortes

Hérault (34): Adge, Béziers, Montpellier

Lozère (48): Mende

Pyrénées-Oriental (66): Perpignan

Limousin

Corrèze (19): Brive-la-Gaillarde

Creuse (23): Guéret

Haute-Vienne (87): Limoges

Lorraine

Meurthe-et-Moselle (54): Nancy

Meuse (55): Verdun

Moselle (57): Metz

Vosges (88): Epinal

Midi-Pyrénées

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

Tarn-et-Garonne (82)

Nord-Pas-de-Calais

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

Picardie

Aisne (02): Saint Quentin, Soissons

Oise (60): Beauvais, Compiègne

Somme (80): Amiens

Poitou-Charentes

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

Alpes-Maritimes (06): Cannes, Nice

Bouches-du-Rhône (13): Marseille, Aix-en-Provence

Var (83): Toulon

Vaucluse (84): Avignon

Rhône-Alpes

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