Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Regions of France
Pauline Kenny, October 2004
France is divided into communes, departments and regions. I find it confusing to determine which area people are talking about. People sometimes refer to the official region, but frequently use the department name or some unofficial regional name. For example, you will hear people talk about the Luberon. This is not an official region or department. It is an area within the department Vaucluse in the region of Provence.
Commune: Communes are the villages, towns and cities of France. There are 36,851 communes. The largest commune are Paris, Lyon and Marseilles, followed by Toulouse, Dijon, Bordeaux, and Strasbourg. Only 52 communes have more than 100,000 inhabitants.
Departments: The entire country is divided into 95 or 99 departments (depends who you read). Before the French Revolution, the country was divided into regions, but this was changed to make the more anonymous and smaller departments. In 1982, the French government brought back the regions, keeping the departments, but assigning groups of departments to a region.
Regions: There are 22 or 26 regions (depends who you read). Regions existed in some form originally (pre-French Revolution), then were disbanded and replaced by departments, but in 1982 were brought back.
Note About the Perigord and the Dordogne
Perigord is the ancient name of the area that is now the department of the Dordogne (departement 24) in the Aquitaine region in the southwest corner of France. Most French people refer to the area as the Perigord; most outsiders call it the Dordogne. There are four areas within the Perigord - Perigord Pourpre, Perigord Blanc, Perigord Vert, and Perigord Noir (the area encompassing most of the prehistoric sites and so-called because of the black walnuts grown in such profusion there).
Regions Used to Group Reviews on Slow Travel
I have merged a few of the regions to come up with these 19 regions for grouping our travel information and reviews. I loosely followed the regions in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide for France.
Groupings of regions used on the Slow Travel site
The Regions of France
This map shows the official 22 regions of France with the French names (these regions were set in 1972).
The Departments of France
This map shows the original 96 departments of France.
See Flags of the World for a description of departments and regions in France.
Another good map is on the Gites de France site. Click on the region to see the departments.
Thanks to FLOW - Flags of the World - web site for these great maps (used
with permission)! (I made changes to the region map to put the English names
of the regions.)
Some of the information on this page was taken from the book "Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't be Wrong" by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow, Sourcebooks Inc., 2003.
Maps and boundary data are copyrighted by FOTW - Flags Of The World web site
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