France Regions Map and Guide

france regions map, map of france
James Martin

Mainland France is divided into 13 regions—five are overseas. The regions are further broken down into départements. If you are planning a French getaway, it might help to get your bearings first. It helps to know where you can find your favorite wines, medieval castles, World War II historic sites, and prehistoric caves, if that is what interests you.

France regions are pronounced differently in French; most place names have been Anglicized. in most cases, you can infer the English words for the regions. For example, Bourgogne in French is Burgundy in English, the famous wine region. "Centre" is really the central Loire region, where tourists flock to see interesting castles or chateaux.

The Regions

There is tons of travel information on all the regions of France, and a tour by train or car of any of these regions represents a fine way to see a bit of France. These are the region and their capitals: Grand Est (Strasbourg), Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Bordeaux), Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes (Lyon), Bourgogne-Franche-Comte (Dijon), Brittany (Rennes), Centre-Val de Loire (Orleans), Ile-de-France (Paris), Occitanie (Toulouse), Hauts-de-France (Lille), Normandy (Rouen), Pays de la Loire (Nantes), Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (Marseille), Corsica (Ajaccio).

There are 5 additional regions overseas: French Guiana, Guadaloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion.

D-Day Beaches and Memorials

Besides World War II memorials, Normandy has some great food (some of the world's best butter) and includes lots of impressionist's landscapes, including Monet's garden in Giverny

Chateaux and Wine of the Loire Region 

The Loire in the Centre region not only produces some of France's finest wines, but there are very popular chateaux (the plural of chateau) to visit. Bus tours of these palaces are a tourist favorite. The Loire is close enough to Paris that you can take a Loire Valley castle day from Paris through Viator (book direct). You can also find tours of the Chateaux de Chambord, and a Loire Valley wine-tasting day trip from Paris.

Occitanie Castles and Wine

Languedoc, also known as Cathar Country, is where you can find the Rennes Le Chateau and taste Blanquette de Limoux sparkling wine. You can see some of the best castles in the Aude department of the Languedoc.

Prehistoric Caves and Medieval Castles

Most have heard of the prehistoric caves of Lascaux in the Dordogne department of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, additionally, you can find prehistoric caves in Tarascon River basin in the French Pyrenees, officially part of the Occitanie region. The Caves of Niaux is an archaeological site with a documented history of Paleo-human presence. It contains numerous distinct areas and galleries of carefully drawn and vivid wall paintings, executed in a black-outlined style typical of drawings from 17,000 to 11,000 years ago.

Another area worth a visit in the Aquitaine is Perigord Noir, with medieval castles and villages. Perigord is often referred to as the "Land of 1001 Castles." The construction of castles began in the 11th and 12th centuries and were strategic strongholds during the medieval battles of the Hundred Years War between the kingdoms of France and England. 

Corsica

For a more rustic vacation experience, the Mediterranean region of Corsica offers beaches, warmth, and some of the best charcuterie of salami and other meats in Europe. Bastia is on the ferry lines and makes an excellent base from which to explore northern Corsica.

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