Region (France)

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Map of the French regions (since January 1, 2016)

The regions ( French régions , Sg. Région ) are local authorities ( collectivités territoriales ) in France .

There have been 18 regions since the beginning of 2016, 13 of which are in Europe and five are French overseas territories ( France d'outre-mer ) - French Guiana , Guadeloupe , Martinique , Mayotte and Réunion . The regions in Europe (except Corsica ) each consist of several departments , the overseas regions each contain only one overseas department . Corsica is a local authority with special status ( collectivité à statut particulier ) .

The size of the regions can be compared with the German states . However, they are not member states with their own constitution or legislative competence . Their delimitation, responsibilities and budget are determined by the central government .

By the end of 2015, there were 22 regions in the European part of France instead of the current 13 (see below ). The first elections to the regional councils of the newly formed regions took place on December 6th and 13th, 2015.


The regions were initially set up in 1972 by a simple law (loi nº 72-619) as part of the decentralization of the French unified state . Since 1982 they have had the status of local authorities. It was not until 2003 that its existence was enshrined in Article 72 of the constitution (alongside departments, municipalities and other regional authorities). The specific design - number, delimitation, names, responsibilities, organs, budget funds of the regions - is still up to the ordinary legislator. In 2015, the legislative bodies of the French Republic (National Assembly, Senate and President) were able to reorganize the regions without the need for the consent of the regions concerned themselves.

The different levels of the local authorities are not in a hierarchical vertical relationship, i. H. the departments and municipalities are not subject to the supervision or direction of the regions. Instead, all regional authorities are directly subordinate to the republic and each have their own competencies. In practice, however, the areas of responsibility of the various levels partially overlap. At best there is coordination and networking, but sometimes there are also disputes over competence.


Regionalization project on a map from 1969

The 34 historical provinces of the Kingdom of France were dissolved as a result of the French Revolution . From 1790 the départements - initially 83 - were the highest administrative unit below the central state. Several departments were combined into larger regions for the first time in 1919 through a decree by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Étienne Clémentel , by which the chambers of commerce of several departments were combined into one regional chamber of commerce. During the Vichy regime in 1941, the départements were merged into 18 regions (which largely coincided with the later program regions) and placed under regional prefects. Reference was made symbolically to the historical, pre-revolutionary provinces. These regions were dissolved again immediately after the liberation of France .

The administrative and local authority level of the later French regions, each consisting of several departments, was created in 1956 as program regions (régions de programme) to coordinate state regional planning . From 1960, the regions were called Circonscriptions d'action régionale . In 1964, commissions for regional economic development, Commissions de Développement Économique Régional, were created for the regions . The affiliation of the departments to the respective regions has since been subjected to several reforms.

In 1969, in a referendum , the majority of French voters rejected the project to reform the regions (and the Senate) presented to them by President Charles de Gaulle . The project envisaged the institutionalization of the regions as local authorities, which was initially not implemented. The defeat led (in addition to his health) to de Gaulle's resignation as president. In 1970 the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur-Corse region was separated into the independent regions Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Corsica .

With the law of July 5, 1972, the regions received the status of établissements publics under the direction of a regional prefect (préfet de région) . The Commissions de Développement Économique Régional were renamed regional councils (conseils régionaux) with effect from 1973 . The overseas departments also received the status of regions in 1972. In 1976, the area around the French capital Paris, which until then was called Région Parisienne , was given the same name as Île-de-France with the other regions.

The decentralization laws of March 2, 1982 gave the regions the status of local authorities (collectivités territoriales), which until then had only been enjoyed by the municipalities and the départements . Corsica became a region with special status in 1982 and from that year had a directly elected regional assembly. In the overseas regions, the first regional elections took place as early as 1983. In 1986, the regional councils were also elected directly in the regions with normal status for the first time. Since then, the powers of the regions over those of the central government have been gradually expanded. In 1991, Corsica became a territorial body with special status, modeled on French Polynesia .

The 2003 constitutional reform enshrined the existence of the regions as local authorities in the constitution. In 2011 Mayotte was added as an overseas region (DOM-ROM) after a referendum in 2009. A major reorganization was carried out from 2014, which affected almost all regions of metropolitan France and came into force at the beginning of 2016.

Layout and function


The regional prefect (préfet de région) appointed by the central government coordinates the activities of the central government in the region. The function of regional prefect is exercised in personal union by the prefect of the department in which the capital of the region is located.

The regional council (conseil régional) is directly elected every six years. In the regional council elections in 1986, 1992 and 1998 a pure proportional representation system was used; a new electoral process has been in place since the March 2004 elections. Accordingly, proportional representation based on lists continues to apply, but with two ballots and a “majority bonus”. If no list has won an absolute majority of the votes in the first ballot, a second ballot will take place. All lists that received more than ten percent of the votes in the first ballot take part in this. All lists that received more than five percent of the votes in the first ballot are given the opportunity to merge with another list. Three quarters of the seats in the regional council are distributed proportionally among all lists that received more than five percent of the vote in the last ballot. The winning list with more than 50 percent in the first ballot or the largest number of votes in the second ballot also receives the last quarter of the seats in the regional council.

The regional council elects a president (président du conseil régional) and several vice-presidents for different areas of responsibility, who lead the self-government of the region.

In the overseas regions of Guadeloupe and La Réunion, a regional council and a département council exist side by side for the same geographic area, each exercising the powers assigned to the regions or the départements.

As a regional authority with special status, Corsica does not have the organs of a region, but an assembly (Assemblée de Corse), which is still elected according to pure proportional representation, and an executive council (conseil exécutif) responsible for these . These have the competencies of a region as well as that of a department.

Official statistics

Most of the regions also serve as statistical regions at NUTS-2 level . There are nine Zones d'études et d'aménagement du territoire at the superordinate level NUTS-1 .

Classification of the regions since 2016

Redesign of the regions of France
France current regions map-new colors.svg
The 22 previous regions
France proposal regions (2014) map3 new colors.svg
The 14 regions proposed by François Hollande on June 2nd, 2014
Carte des régions en 2016.svg
The division into 13 regions adopted by Parliament on December 17, 2014

On June 2, 2014, President François Hollande proposed a redesign of the French regions. The number of regions should therefore be reduced from 22 to 14 by uniting existing regions. The relevant regulations were made in Law No. 2015–29 (Loi relative à la délimitation des régions, aux élections régionales et départementales et modifiant le calendrier électoral) of January 16, 2015, published on January 17, 2015. The aim of the new division is an increase in administrative efficiency to counteract the indebtedness of France.

Hollande warned that this was an important project for France's future that should not be delayed. There have been numerous discussions and expressions of opinion about which regions should be merged. For example, Ségolène Royal called for a merger of the Pays de la Loire regions with Poitou-Charentes ; Jean-Marc Ayrault, however, for a union of his home region with Brittany . In Normandy there was a dispute about which should be the capital of a united Normandy - one of the previous ones, Rouen or Caen , or now Le Havre . The merger of Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon as well as Picardy and Champagne-Ardenne was viewed critically.

On July 9, 2014, a modified proposal was presented that provided for 13 regions. The main changes compared to the preliminary draft were as follows: Limousin and Poitou-Charentes were merged with Aquitaine , Picardy with Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Champagne-Ardenne with Lorraine and Alsace . This proposal also met with criticism. The non-transparent and perceived chaotic preparation led to resentment; so there were major protests against the merger in Alsace. In the French parliament, the majority of MPs from the Front de gauche , the Greens , the Parti radical de gauche , the UMP and the UDI voted against, while the socialists voted for it . In particular, the UMP MPs from Alsace agitated vehemently against the plan until the end. The bill was approved in the first reading on July 23, 2014 in the National Assembly and on October 21, 2014 in the Senate . The final approval by the French parliament took place on December 17, 2014.

The previous 22 regions of France (without counting the five overseas regions) were combined into 13 regions on January 1, 2016. The Alsatians in particular protested against the territorial reform.

As a rule, the regions were assigned the connection of the previous region names in alphabetical order as a provisional name (exception: Normandy), the final region name was set by a decree of the Council of State by October 1, 2016 . Strasbourg was set as the seat of the merged region in northeastern France at an early stage, and on July 31, 2015, the French government provisionally set the seat of the regional prefecture for the other new regions as well. Six regions were excluded from the reorganization.

New region map Mergers main place Departments Area
in km²
Residents ISO code
Île-de-France Île-de-France in France 2016.svg unchanged Paris 8th 12,011 12.005.077 FR-IDF
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in France 2016.svg Auvergne , Rhône-Alpes Lyon 12 69,711 7,634,000 FR-ARA
Nouvelle-Aquitaine Nouvelle-Aquitaine in France 2016.svg Aquitaine , Poitou-Charentes , Limousin Bordeaux 12 84.061 5,773,000 FR-NAQ
Hauts-de-France Hauts-de-France in France 2016.svg Nord-Pas-de-Calais , Picardy Lille 5 31,813 5,960,000 FR-HDF
Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in France 2016.svg unchanged Marseille 6th 31,400 4,916,000 FR-PAC
Brittany Brittany in France 2016.svg unchanged Rennes 4th 27.208 3,237,097 FR-BRE
Center-Val de Loire Center-Val de Loire in France 2016.svg unchanged Orleans 6th 39,151 2,556,835 FR-CVL
Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire in France 2016.svg unchanged Nantes 5 32,082 3,601,113 FR-PDL
Grand Est Grand Est in France 2016.svg Alsace , Champagne-Ardenne , Lorraine Strasbourg 10 57,433 5,545,000 FR-GES
Normandy Normandy in France 2016.svg Upper Normandy , Lower Normandy Rouen 5 29,906 3,315,000 FR-NOR
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in France 2016.svg Bourgogne , Franche-Comté Dijon 8th 47,784 2,816,000 FR-BFC
Occitania Occitanie in France 2016.svg Languedoc-Roussillon , Midi-Pyrénées Toulouse 13 72,724 5,573,000 FR-OCC
Corsica ( Collectivité territoriale ) Corsica in France 2016.svg unchanged Ajaccio 2 8,680 322,000 FR-COR

List of regions of France until 2015

French regions by the end of 2015


Total area share: Area share in the entire national territory (land mass) including overseas in percent
Area share metropolitan area: Area share in metropolitan France ( France métropolitaine ) in Europe in percent
GDP: gross domestic product in euros per capita (2008)
AQ: Unemployment rate in percent (2009)
Former region
(until 2015)
flag main place Residents Area
Area share Population density [
Ew. per km²]
ISO code
total [%] Motherland [%]
Aquitaine (Aquitaine) AquitaineAquitaine Bordeaux 000000003414585.00000000003,414,585 (2017) 41,283.9 6.5 7.6 000000000000082.700000000082.7 27,562 8.7 FR-B
Auvergne AuvergneAuvergne Clermont-Ferrand 000000001364156.00000000001,364,156 (2017) 26,012.9 4.1 4.8 000000000000052.400000000052.4 25,630 8.4 FR-C
Lower Normandy Lower Normandy Caen 000000001474257.00000000001,474,257 (2017) 17,589.3 2.8 3.2 000000000000083.800000000083.8 24,813 9.0 FR-P
Brittany BrittanyBrittany Rennes 000000003318904.00000000003,318,904 (2017) 27,207.9 4.3 5.0 000000000000122.0000000000122 26,547 7.7 FR-E
Bourgogne (Burgundy) BurgundyBurgundy Dijon 000000001632887.00000000001,632,887 (2017) 31,582.0 5.0 5.8 000000000000051.700000000051.7 26,427 8.5 FR-D
Center Center-Val de LoireCenter-Val de Loire Orleans 000000002576252.00000000002,576,252 (2017) 39,150.9 6.2 7.2 000000000000065.800000000065.8 26,541 8.4 FR-F
Champagne-Ardenne Champagne-ArdenneChampagne-Ardenne Châlons-en-Champagne 000000001328134.00000000001,328,134 (2017) 25,605.8 4.0 4.7 000000000000051.900000000051.9 27,835 10.0 FR-G
Alsace (Alsace) AlsaceAlsace Strasbourg (Strasbourg) 000000001889589.00000000001,889,589 (2017) 8,280.2 1.3 1.5 000000000000228.2000000000228.2 28,470 8.4 FR-A
Franche-Comté Franche-ComtéFranche-Comté Besançon 000000001178536.00000000001,178,536 (2017) 16,202.3 2.5 2.0 000000000000072.700000000072.7 25,010 9.7 FR-I
Guyane (French Guiana) French GuianaFrench Guiana Cayenne 000000000268700.0000000000268,700 (2017) 83,533.9 13.6   000000000000003.20000000003.2 FR-GF
Guadeloupe GuadeloupeGuadeloupe Basse-Terre 000000000390253.0000000000390,253 (2017) 1,628.4 0.3   000000000000239.7000000000239.7 FR-GP
Upper Normandy Upper NormandyUpper Normandy Rouen 000000001856221.00000000001,856,221 (2017) 12,317.4 1.9 2.3 000000000000150.7000000000150.7 27,990 10.2 FR-Q
Île-de-France Île-de-FranceÎle-de-France Paris 000000012174880.000000000012,174,880 (2017) 12,012.3 1.9 2.2 000000000001013.50000000001,013.5 47,155 7.8 FR-J
Corse (Corsica) CorsicaCorsica Ajaccio 000000000334938.0000000000334,938 (2017) 8,679.8 1.4 1.6 000000000000038.600000000038.6 24,232 8.3 FR-H
Languedoc-Roussillon Languedoc-RoussillonLanguedoc-Roussillon Montpellier 000000002810383.00000000002,810,383 (2017) 27,375.7 4.3 5.0 000000000000102.7000000000102.7 23,726 12.4 FR-K
Limousin Limousin Limoges 000000000734528.0000000000734,528 (2017) 16,942.3 2.7 3.1 000000000000043.400000000043.4 24,794 7.7 FR-L
Lorraine (Lorraine) LorraineLorraine Metz 000000002331863.00000000002,331,863 (2017) 23,547.4 3.7 4.3 000000000000099.000000000099 24,606 9.9 FR-M
Martinique MartiniqueMartinique Fort-de-France 000000000372594.0000000000372,594 (2017) 1,128.0 0.2   000000000000330.3000000000330.3 FR-MQ
Mayotte MayotteMayotte Mamoudzou 000000000256518.0000000000256,518 (2017) 374.0 0.1   000000000000685.9000000000685.9 FR-YT
Midi-Pyrénées Midi-Pyrénées Toulouse 000000003034719.00000000003,034,719 (2017) 45,347.9 7.1 8.3 000000000000066.900000000066.9 27,384 9.0 FR-N
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Nord-Pas-de-CalaisNord-Pas-de-Calais Lille 000000004072379.00000000004,072,379 (2017) 12,414.1 2.0 2.3 000000000000328.0000000000328 24,866 12.8 FR-O
Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Nantes 000000003757600.00000000003,757,600 (2017) 32,081.8 5.0 5.9 000000000000117.1000000000117.1 27,533 8.2 FR-R
Picardy PicardyPicardy Amiens 000000001931436.00000000001,931,436 (2017) 19,399.5 3.1 3.6 000000000000099.600000000099.6 23,890 10.8 FR-S
Poitou-Charentes Poitou-CharentesPoitou-Charentes Poitiers 000000001807865.00000000001,807,865 (2017) 25,809.5 4.1 4.7 000000000000070.000000000070 25,259 8.9 FR-T
Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur Marseille 000000005030890.00000000005,030,890 (2017) 31,399.8 4.9 5.8 000000000000160.2000000000160.2 28,949 10.3 FR-U
Reunion ReunionReunion Saint-Denis 000000000853659.0000000000853,659 (2017) 2,503.7 0.4   000000000000341.0000000000341 FR-RE
Rhône-Alpes Rhône-AlpesRhône-Alpes Lyon 000000006584131.00000000006,584,131 (2017) 43,698.2 6.9 8.0 000000000000150.7000000000150.7 30.601 8.6 FR-V

Web links

Commons : Regions of France  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files


  • Franco-German Institute (Ed.): France Yearbook 2015. France after the territorial reform. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2016. Focus on France after the territorial reform, pp. 11–128.

Individual evidence

  1. Code officiel geographique. Documentation. Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques , accessed on August 2, 2012 (French).
  2. Nadine Dantonel-Cor: Droit of Local authority. 3 e édition. Rosny-sous-Bois: Bréal, 2007. - ISBN 978-2-7495-0784-2 , p. 35
  3. Quelles sont les différentes collectivités territoriales? on
  4. a b Joachim Schild, Henrik Uterwedde: France. Politics, economy, society. 2nd edition, VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2006, pp. 111-112.
  5. ^ Dominik Grillmayer: The territorial reform in France: a first balance. In: Deutsch-Französisches Institut (Ed.): France Yearbook 2015. France after the territorial reform. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2016, pp. 17–28.
  6. ^ Henry Rousso: Vichy. France under German occupation 1940 - 1944. CH Beck, Munich 2009, p. 57.
  7. see also French Wikipedia
  8. Law No. 2015-29 of January 16, 2015 on the delimitation of regions, regional and departmental elections and the modification of the electoral calendar (Loi relative à la délimitation des régions, aux élections régionales et départementales et modifiant le calendrier électoral), in : Journal Officiel de la République française of January 16, 2015 en ligne , accessed on May 3, 2015
  9. projet de loi accessed on May 3, 2015.
  10. "reformers les territoires pour réformer la France" . Official publication Élysée - Présidence de la République of June 2, 2014, accessed on May 3, 2015.
  11. "reformers les territoires pour réformer la France". Élysée, June 2, 2014, accessed March 23, 2015 (French).
  12. Cécile Dehesdin: Voici la carte of the 14 régions de la réforme territorial de Francois Hollande. L'Express, June 2, 2014, accessed March 23, 2015 (French).
  13. Sandrine Chesnel: Caen ou Rouen: quelle capitale pour la future grande Normandie? L'Express, February 23, 2015, accessed March 23, 2015 (French).
  14. Laure Equy, Rémy Dodet: territorial Réforme. L'Assemblée coupe court. In: Liberation .fr, July 22, 2014.
  15. ^ Manifestation à Strasbourg pour une Alsace sans la Lorraine. In: , October 11, 2014; Olivier Mirguet: Contre la fusion des régions, l'Alsace défile et caricature la Lorraine. In: L'Express .fr, October 11, 2014.
  16. ^ François Guillot: Des autonomistes alsaciens en lutte contre la fusion de l'Alsace avec la Lorraine. L'Express, February 26, 2015, accessed on March 23, 2015 (French).
  17. La carte à 13 régions définitivement adoptée. Le Monde, December 17, 2014, accessed March 27, 2015 (French).
  18. ^ Agenda for reform: France reduces number of regions
  19. ^ France gives itself a new political map Die Zeit online from December 17, 2014, accessed on May 3, 2015.
  20. ^ Alsatians protest against territorial reform dpa, AFP December 14, 2014, accessed on May 3, 2015.
  21. Insee 2008
  22. Second trimester 2009, in percent, source: Insee 2009