The New Regions of France Explained

List of France's Regions

French Life
Getty/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 with 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 regions 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.
  • 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.

Edited by Mary Anne Evans