Saturday, September 17, 2016

Regions - On the 1st of January 2016 Many of France's Mainland Administrative Regions and Their Borders Changed. Keep This List With Your GPS and Map.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

The 22 regions of France until 31-12-2015.
Photograph courtesy of

The new administrative regions of mainland France since 1-1-2016.
 There are now thirteen administrative regions.
Photograph courtesy of
The internal borders, on the mainland map of France, are changing. There is some possibility of confusion where old maps and or guide books are used; however, that should not seriously affect the visitor.  When traveling around France and looking for addresses the names of France’s departments are more important, and they remain unchanged.

What is a French Administrative Region?

 From 1st January 2016 from 22 departments in mainland France, including the island of Corsica, the number of regions has been reduced to 13. These 13 are France's new super regions. In certain administrative and geographic forms, a French region is similar to a US State or UK County, and the reduction will diminish the number of officials with their separate bureaucracies.  Hopefully, this will create savings for the French taxpayer and reduce the government’s bureaucratic contact with its citizens.  

In this post are the new mainland region’s names and the names of the old regions they include.  I have also used the names they have chosen, and they will be confirmed by the central government by the end of October 2016; I do not expect any changes.  The borders of the other six mainland departments and France’s five overseas departments are unchanged.

Until last week all my posts in this blog and in my book used the old names.  It will take quite a while to go through all those posts and make changes in the book as well, but it will be done.
The old regions:                                The new region's names:
Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, and Lorraine become:                       Grande Est    
Strasbourg in the department of Bas-Rhin is the regional
The meaning of the Grande Est is the “Great East.” 
Grande is a reference to the region’s importance
and East to its position in the North-East of France.

The new super-region of the Grande Est.
Photograph courtesy of
Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie become:                                 Hauts de France 
Lille in the department of Nord and is the regional capital.
The meaning of Haute de France is
 "The Heights of France." A reference to the region’s
 importance and position in the North of France.

The new super region of the Hauts-de-France.
Photograph courtesy of
Haute Normandie and  Basse Normandie become:                         Normandie                 
Rouen in the department of Seine-Maritime is the 
regional capital.
Most visitors will hardly notice this change, the two regions of
Haute Normandie and Bass Normandie have become one.

The new super-region of Normandie.
Photograph courtesy of
Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées become:                              Occitanie 
Toulouse in the department of Haute-Garonne is the 
regional capital.

The name Occitanie points to the historical country of Occitania
and the language of Occitan. When the French Kings
searched for a single language to unite France, there
were two languages in contention D’oc and its
dialects and D'oï and its dialects.  D’oc indicated the language of Occitan
and D’ouil indicated the language of Paris and the areas round about.  
D’oil, the language of Paris won out but still today there are 
millions of Frenchmen and Frenchwomen who know or speak
some Occitan or where Occitan is the language behind 
their local dialect. Provencal is an example of a dialect of Occitan.
Clearly, a single language is vital to rule a country.  A the time of the
French revolution only 50% of the population spoke 
French. By 1914 most of the population understood French
even if at home they spoke one of over 50 local languages
and dialects. Today every high school graduate speak excellent French.
In one or two generations most of the local languages and 
dialects will be restricted to those who have studied them 
in the universities. Many groups are working to keep the old 
languages alive but their's is not an easy task.

The new super-region of Occitanie
Photograph courtesy of francebleu

Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes become:            Nouvelle Aquitaine
Bordeaux in the department of Gironde is the
regional capital.

The new super-region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.
Photograph courtesy of France-pub.cpm
Auvergne  and the Rhone Alps become:                          Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes 
Lyon in the department of Rhône is the regional capital.  

The new super region of Auvergne-Rhone Alps.
Photograph courtesy of

Bourgogne and Franche-Comte become:                   BourgogneFranche-Comte
Dijon in the department of Côte-d'Or is the
regional capital.

The new super-region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.
Photograph courtesy of

The Unchanged Regions:
Bretagne (Brittany).
Rennes in the department of Ille-et-Vilaine is the
regional capital.
Centre- Val de Loire  (This department did not change its borders, 
it just changed  its name from Centre to Centre -Val de Loire
Orleans in the department of Loiret is the
regional capital.
Corse (Corsica). 
Ajacio in the department of Corse-du-Sud is the
regional capital.
Paris is  both a department and a city and 
is, obviously,  the regional capital.
Pays de la Loire 
Nantes in the department of Loire-Atlantique is
the regional capital.
Marseilles in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône 
is the regional capital.
France’s overseas regions/departments are unchanged.

Guyane   (French Guiana ) 
On the Atlantic coast of South America just above Brazil.          
Cayenne is the regional capital.
Guadeloupe  a group of islands in the Caribbean.
Basse-Terre is the regional capital.
Martinique an island the Caribbean
Fort-de-France is the regional capital.
Mayotte is composed of  two islands in the Indian Ocean
Mamoudzou is the regional capital.
Réunion is an Island in the Indian Ocean.
Saint-Denis is the regional capital.

What are the French “Regions”

France administers the lives of its citizens both directly and indirectly through its “regions.” Regions can be thought of Countrywide geographical divisions dividing the country in a somewhat similar way to States in the USA and Counties in the UK.  Each French Region administers its own area through "departments."  While certain regions on the map of mainland are France changing, the names of France’s departments have not changed. On maps and websites departments are more important, they are more likely to tell you where you.
What are the French departments

France’s regions are divided into 101 Departments.  Departments and regions were created during the revolution in the 1790’s to break up unmanageable areas, or huge landholdings called provinces. Only a few changes have been made since then. The departments are managed by the regions.



Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010,2016.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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