French Language Blog

The Regions in France Posted by on Jul 31, 2020 in Culture

Bonjour tout le monde!

I thought today we would have a bit of a history lesson and breakdown of the regions in France!

La Métropole, or mainland France, comprises of 13 régions. There are an additional 5 regions located in la France d’outre-mer, or overseas France. Together, they are referred to as la France entière, the whole of France.

Voici la carte d’aujourd’hui.


If you’re thinking “this map looks nothing like the map I remember hanging up in my high school French class…” vous avez raison, you are right! This is a new and updated map since le premier janvier 2016.

In 2015, it was proposed that France be restructured from 22 regions in La Métropole, to just 13.

Here is an old map, the one you studied diligently j’en suis sûre


As you can see, some regions were forced to merge and either took on a new name entirely, or simply combined all the names together. (i.e. Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

During this period of time while France was making this shift, it was a much debated and talked about topic. Dubbed le big bang des régions by the French media, many residents were not happy about the changes and resented new capitals and their new forced ‘allegiances.’ Imagine your rancœur, bitterness, if New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were all of a sudden merged and considered the “Big East.” Or maybe if a large chunk of the west of the US was called “New California.” Non, merci…

Nevertheless, this move was deemed a necessary re-organization to simplify the local governments and free up valuable resources to focus on the economic development of the whole country.

Despite the necessity, the controversy remains. Some residents believe they have lost their identities and that the new region names do not adequately represent them and their history. For example, the region Occitanie has been polémique, polemic. It is a merger of the previous Langudeoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions, and the name was chosen to represent the Occitan language and culture that encompasses a large part of Southern France. (The previous region also was a nod to this culture – langue d’occitan.) Unfortunately this name that represents Occitan so well fails to include the French Catalans who live along the French-Spanish border. They have been calling for the word “Pays-Catalan” to be included in the name to better represent them as well.

What do you think of the still relatively new regions in France? I know I am happy to have a couple items with the original region name on them, such as this bag from when I studied at the Alliance Française in Toulouse!

Photo taken by me.

À la prochaine!

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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.