The New Regions of France Explained

French Life

Getty Images / Leslie West

In January 2016, France transformed its regions. The original 27 regions were reduced to 13 regions (12 in mainland France plus Corsica). Each of these is subdivided into 2 to 13 departments.

To many French, it was a change for no reason. There is a lot of resentment about the cities that will be the capitals of the region. The Auvergne has merged with Rhône-Alpes and the regional capital is Lyon, so Clermont-Ferrand is worried. It will take a generation of people to get used to the changes. 

French and foreign visitors are bewildered by the new names that were finally adopted in June 2016. Who will guess that Occitanie is the former region of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées? 

The New Regions of France

  • Brittany (no change)
  • Burgundy-Franche-Comté (Burgundy and France-Comté)
  • Centre-Val de Loire (no change)
  • Corsica (no change)
  • Grand Est (Alsace, Champagne-Ardennes, and Lorraine)
  • Hautes-de-France (Nord, Pas-de-Calais, and Picardie)
  • Ile-de-France (no change)
  • Normandy (Upper and Lower Normandy)
  • Nouvelle Aquitaine (Aquitaine, Limousin, and Poitou-Charentes)
  • Occitanie (Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées)
  • Pays de la Loire (no change)
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA - no change)
  • Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes)

The Old Regions of France

  • Aquitaine Region an amazing land of wine, fine cuisine, cosmopolitan cities like Bordeaux and miles and miles of protected parkland ideal for eco-tourism.
  • Alsace Region in northeastern France, this region hovers near the border of Germany and is filled with timbered buildings straight out of fairy tales. Strasbourg is the major city. 
  • Auvergne Region features the mountain scenery of the Massif Central, luxurious thermal spas, and hearty cuisine. It is centrally located.
  • Brittany Region (Bretagne) features rugged coastlines with some of the world's most breathtaking views. It features more than 4,000 châteaux, manors, and medieval homes.
  • Burgundy Region (Bourgogne) a land of fine wines, fabulous cuisine, fascinating historic sites, and charming villages. Beaune is the stand-out city here. 
  • Centre Region (Loire Valley) features amazing châteaux and cathedrals, including Notre Dame de Chartres.
  • Champagne Ardennes Region isn't just a destination for lovers of sparkling wine. It also features beautiful architecture like Reims Cathedral, châteaux like Cirey where Voltaire lived with his mistress, and numerous timbered buildings and churches. To the north, the Ardennes offers puppetry, medieval castles, and poets.
  • Corsica Region (Corse) an amazing island in the Mediterranean enjoyed by visitors for its beautiful coastline, extensive outdoor adventures, historic attractions, and wellness.
  • Franche-Comté Region a recreation-lovers' delight bordering Switzerland, whether you wish to mountain bike, ski, go horseback riding or skiing. It takes in the Jura.
  • High Normandy Region (Haute Normandie) features beautiful beaches, historic attractions, and delicious cuisine. And sites associated with William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy.
  • Ile de France Region (Paris) home to France's capital city of Paris, plus impressive châteaux and mansions, the arts, lovely villages and the luxury of Versailles.
  • Languedoc-Roussillon Region features great beaches, quaint medieval villages, outdoor recreation and the world's most popular nudist resort and town. 
  • Limousin Region the least populated region of France, and much of it is well-preserved and a haven for tourists seeking respite.
  • Lorraine Region is a place to discover art, fine cuisine, beautiful cities and villages, and the great outdoors. Metz now houses the Pompidou-Metz Centre, an outpost of the Paris gallery.
  • Low Normandy Region (Basse Normandie) is best known as the site of the D-Day landings during World II. It also is home to long stretches of Atlantic beaches.
  • Midi Pyrenees Region is home to stunning Cathar castles, enchanting countryside, vibrant cities like Toulouse and the Pyrenees mountains.
  • Nord Pas de Calais Region is the most northerly region in the country, bordering Belgium. This is the place to enjoy beaches and countryside, fine cuisine and unique shopping, local markets and unique architecture.
  • Pays de la Loire Region was the stomping grounds of kings and nobles during Medieval times. The grand castles of those days still stand and many offer tours (and even overnight lodging).
  • Poitou Charentes Region is filled with Romanesque art, parks and gardens, vineyards and Atlantic beaches.
  • Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur Region (PACA) is a delightful region of France, dotted by hilltop villages overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the most famous cities are in this region, including Cannes and Nice.
  • Rhones-Alpes Region is the destination for winter sports and spa treatments. This is a great region for couples getaways and honeymoons, and features the stunning Alps. It borders both Italy and Switzerland.
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