French Departments

France is divided administratively into regions, departments and communes. There are 96 departments, most with a two-digit number (plus 5 overseas departments, see below). That number is also used in the post code, in social security numbers and until recently for vehicle registration plates.
French logic and analytical thinking!

Created in 1790 following the French Revolution when the old provinces were abolished, it was a deliberate policy to break up the historic regions and build a united nation. The boundaries were set with each department’s capital a day’s ride on horseback from every settlement. One odd result of this is that the capital is not necessarily the largest city in a department. The  names were chosen from the department’s principal river, or sometimes mountains such as the Alpes.

The largest department is the Gironde; the smallest is the city of Paris. The most populous is Nord while the Lozère has the least number of inhabitants.

At first all numbers corresponded to the alphabetical order of the department’s names but some changed their names so it’s not as logical as the original administrators wanted. For instance there is no number 20 which should be Corsica. Now Corsica is divided into 2A and 2B. And Monaco uses 98.

Try the Game

When I was driving through France on long journeys with my young son, I kept him occupied with the numbers game. I printed out a large map of the departments, gave him a coloured pencil and got him to put a cross in each one as we spotted a car with the relevant number. Sometimes it worked.

Departments by Numbers

French Departments Map. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
French Departments Map. C: Nilstilar


Each department is listed below with the number and name, capital, the old region and the new region in parentheses.

01 Ain – Bourg-en-Bresse – Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

02 Aisne – Laon – Picardy – (Hauts de France)

03 Allier – Moulins – Auvergne (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

04 Alpes-de-Haut-Provence – Digne-les-Bains – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

05 Hautes-Alpes – Gap – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

06 Alpes-Maritimes – Nice – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

07 Ardèche – Privas – Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

08 Ardennes – Charleville-Mézières – Champagne-Ardennes (Grand Est)

09 Ariège – Foix – Midi-Pyrénées (Occitanie)

10 Aube – Troyes – Champagne-Ardennes (Grand Est)

11 Aude – Carcassonne – Languedoc-Roussillon (Occitanie)

12 Aveyron – Rodez – Midi-Pyrénées (Occitanie)

13 Bouches-du-Rhône – Marseille – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

14 Calvados – Caen – Lower Normandy (Normandy)

15 Cantal – Aurillac – Auvergne (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

16 Charente – Angoulême – Poitou-Charentes (Nouvelle-Aquitaine)

17 Charente-Maritime – La Rochelle – Poitou-Charentes (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

18 Cher – Bourges – Centre (Centre-Val de Loire)

19 Corrèze – Tulle – Limousin (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

2A Corse-du-Sud – Ajaccio – Corsica

2B Haute-Corse – Bastia – Corsica

21 Côte d’Or – Dijon – Burgundy (Burgundy-Franche-Comté)

22 Côtes d’Armor – Saint-Brieuc – Brittany

23 Creuse – Guéret – Limousin (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

24 Dordogne – Périgueux – Aquitaine (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

25 Doubs – Besançon – Franche-Comté (Burgundy-Franche-Comté)

26 Drôme – Valence – Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

27 Eure – Èvreux – Upper Normandy (Normandy)

28 Eure-et-Loire – Chartres – Centre (Centre-Val de Loire)

29 Finistère – Quimper – Brittany

30 Gard – Nîmes – Languedoc-Roussillon (Occitanie)

31 Haute-Garonne – Toulouse – Midi-Pyrénées (Occitanie)

32 Gers – Auch – Midi-Pyrénées (Occitanie)

33 Gironde – Bordeaux – Aquitaine (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

34 Hérault – Montpellier – Languedoc-Roussillon (Occitanie)

35 Ille-et-Vilaine – Rennes – Brittany

36 Indre – Châteauroux – Centre (Centre-Val de Loire)

37 indre-et-Loire – Tours – Centre (Centre-Val de Loire)

38 Isère – Grenoble – Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

39 Jura – Lons-le-Saunier – Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

40 Landes  – Mont-de-Marsan – Aquitaine (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

41 Loir-et-Cher – Blois – Centre (Centre-Val de Loire)

42 Loire – Saint-Ètienne – Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

43 Haute-Loire – Le Puy-en-Velay – Auvergne (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

44 Loire-Atlantique – Nantes – Pays de la Loire

45 Loiret – Orléans – Centre (Centre-Val de Loire)

46 Lot – Cahors – Midi-Pyrénées (Occitanie)

47 Lot-et-Garonne – Agen – Aquitaine (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

48 Lozère – Mende – Languedoc-Roussillon (Occitanie)

49 Maine-et-Loire – Angers – Pays de la Loire

50 Manche – Saint-Lô  –  Upper Normandy (Normandy)

51 Marne – Châlons-en-Champagne – Champagne-Ardennes (Grand Est)

52 Haute-Marne – Chaumont – Champagne-Ardennes (Grand Est)

53 Mayenne – Laval – Pays de la Loire

54 Meurthe-et-Moselle – Nancy – Lorraine (Grand Est)

55 Meuse – Bar-le-Duc – Lorraine (Grand Est)

56 Morbihan – Vannes – Brittany

57 Moselle – Metz – Lorraine (Grand Est)

58 Nièvre – Nevers – Burgundy (Burgundy-Franche-Comté)

59 Nord – Lille – Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Hauts de France)

60 Oise – Beauvais – Picardy (Hauts de France)

61 Orne – Alençon – Lower Normandy (Normandy)

62 Pas-de-Calais – Arras – Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Hauts de France)

63 Puy-de-Dôme – Clermont-Ferrand – Auvergne (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques – Pau – Aquitaine (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

65 Hautes- Pyrénées – Tarbes – Midi-Pyrénées (Occitanie)

66 Pyrénées-Orientales – Perpignan – Languedoc-Roussillon (Occitanie)

67 Bas-Rhin – Strasbourg – Alsace (Grand Est)

68 Haut-Rhin – Colmar – Alsace (Grand Est)

69 Rhône – Lyon – Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

70 Haute-Saône – Vesoul – Franche-Comté (Burgundy-Franche-Comté)

71 Saône-et-Loire – Mâcon – Burgundy (Burgundy-Franche-Comté)

72 Sarthe – Le Mans – Pays de la Loire

73 Savoie – Chambéry – Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

74 Haute-Savoie – Annecy – Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

75 Paris – Paris – Île-de-France

76 Seine-Maritime – Rouen – Upper Normandy (Normandy)

77 Seine-et-Marne – Melun – Île-de-France

78 Yvelines – Versailles – Île-de-France

79 Deux-Sèvres – Poitou-Charentes (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

80 Somme – Amiens – Picardy (Hauts de France)

81 Tarn – Albi – Midi-Pyrénées (Occitanie)

82 Tarn-et-Garonne – Montauban – Midi-Pyrénées (Occitanie)

83 Var – Toulon – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

84 Vaucluse – Avignon – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

85 Vendée – La Roche-sur-Yon – Pays de la Loire

86 Vienne – Poitiers – Poitou-Charentes (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

87 Haute-Vienne – Limoges – Limousin (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

88 Vosges – Épinal – Lorraine (Grand Est)

89 Yonne – Auxerre – Burgundy (Burgundy-Franche-Comté)

90 Territoire de Belfort – Belfort – Franche-Comté (Burgundy-Franche-Comté)

91 Essone – Évry  –  Île-de-France

92 Hauts-de-Seine – Nanterre  –  Île-de-France

93 Seine-Saint-Denis  Bobigny  –  Île-de-France

94 Val-de-Marne – Créteil  – Île-de-France

95 Val d’Oise – Pontoise – Île-de-France

There are also 5 overseas departments:

971 – Guadeloupe – Basse-Terre
972 – Martinique – Fort-de-France
973 – Guyane – Cayenne
974 – La-Reunion – Saint-Denis
976 – Mayotte – Mamoudzou

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