France is so much more
than just Paris.....
► All the regions of France are or include popular tourist destinations, but there are considerable differences in culture, character and climate, from one region to another.
► France as six tourist areasSee part 2 below. France can be divided - as a tourist destination - into six areas, combining similar neighbouring regions into larger and coherent areas with similarities in terms of climate, environment and tourist attractions.
Devolved regional powers in France :
Regional authorities in France are responsible for an increasingly large number of public services. Click for more details
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1. Discover the regions of FranceSince 2016, Metropolitan France has been divided administratively into 13 regions; until the end of 2015, there were 22 regions.
The reduction has been obtained by mergeing certain regions together, as can be seen on the map above. Some of the new super-regions combine the names of the old regions, others like Occitanie or Grand Est are new. Meanwhile the old regions that have been merged are likely to keep their identities, though not their institutions, for some time to come, specially those that like Limousin, Champagne or Alsace, are historic provinces or areas of France.
There are also five overseas regions. Select any region or area in the list below right, or on the map above, for specific regional information and main tourist attractions.
Following the 2016 regional reform, there are now nine regions in the north of France, and just three in the south of continental France. This guide only covers France in Europe, and excludes French overseas regions such as the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Each region has its regional council, whose members are elected by universal suffrage. The council is presided over by a regional president, and has a full local administration to go with it.
Regions have extensive powers in the fields of transport, infrastructure, economic development, tourism and education (provision of lycées), and since these powers were devolved to them from 1981 onwards regions have often worked hard over the years to develop a regional identity.
Historic regions, provinces and other areas :Many of today's French regions correspond largely to the provinces of pre-revolutionary France, and share the same name. Others are modern creations including areas from different historic provinces.
France also has a number of well-known "areas" which are not administrative regions. These are historic or geographic areas, or simply areas that have an identity in terms of tourism. See the list to the right.
Regional reform:The regional structure of France changed on Jan 1st 2016 as part of a major overhaul of local government. Reform had been on the cards for many years, but President Hollande was determined to see it through, and as fast as possible. The plan to reduce the number of regions of Metropolitan France from 22 to 13 was adopted by the French parliament in December 2014, and the change came into effect at the start of 2016.
The new regional geography of France does not go down well in all areas, and changes to the new structure may occur in the near future. Departments have the right to demand their transfer from one region to another; any changes must be approved by the departmental council and the two regional councils concerned. Things will get interesting if or when a department asks to move, and this is approved by the department and by the receiving region, but not by the region it wants to leave....
Click here for facts on the main cities in France
Wild France - far from the crowds
Click for a larger regional map of France (physical).
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