Regions of France

NB: Shown here are the regions that were announced in 2016. Even today many visitors and many of the French themselves are slow to use the new names, preferring the former smaller regions, which are presented here on the right - - >   

In January 2016, France saw a major reorganisation of its regions. The original 22 regions were reduced to 13 regions (12 in mainland France plus Corsica). Each of these is subdivided into 2 to 13 departments.

Here are the new regions of France

Map of new French regions
The new French regions C: French Government

This is the list of the new regions with the former regions that have been incorporated in parantheses.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes). Capital: Lyon

Brittany (no change). Capital: Rennes

Burgundy-Franche-Comté (Burgundy and France-Comté). Capital: Dijon

Centre-Val de Loire (no change). Capital: Orléans

Corsica (no change). Capital: Ajaccio

Grand Est (Alsace, Champagne-Ardennes and Lorraine). Capital: Strasbourg

Hauts-de-France (Nord, Pas-de-Calais and Picardie). Capital: Lille

Ile-de-France (no change).  Capital: Paris

Normandy (Upper and Lower Normandy). Capital: Rouen

Nouvelle Aquitaine (Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes). Capital: Bordeaux

Occitanie (Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées). Capital: Toulouse

Pays de la Loire (no change). Capital: Nantes

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA – no change). Capital: Nice

The former 22 Regions

Regions of France (Public domain via Wikimedia)

Many of the former capitals of the old regions have remained the same; however where there has been a change, there is real worry about the diminishing economies of these cities. Losing out are Clermont Ferrand (former capital of the Auvergne), Châlons-en-Champagne (former capital of Champagne), Nancy (former capital of Lorraine), Amiens (former capital of Picardy), Besançon (former capital of France-Comté), Montpellier (former capital of Languedoc-Roussillon), Limoges (former capital of Limousin), Nancy (former capital of Lorraine), Caen (former capital of Lower Normandy), and Poitiers (former capital of Poitou-Charentes).

Alsace in the east, bordering Germany and Switzerland. A region of pretty timbered buildings and a distinct German flavour. Capital: Strasbourg

Aquitaine on the French Atlantic coast, known for its wines, fabulous beaches and protected parklands. Capital: Bordeaux

Auvergne in the mountainous Massif Central. A beautiful, central volcanic region that is largely undiscovered by visitors. Capital: Clermont Ferrand

Brittany is a gorgeous coastal region in the west with dramatic scenery. Less well known is the fact that it has over 4,000 chateaux, manors and medieval homes.  Capital: Rennes

Burgundy in central France was one of France’s most important historic regions; it’s  known for its top wines, beautiful scenery and rich cities. Capital: Dijon

Centre along the Loire Valley, is known for its châteaux and wines and is particularly popular with visitors. Capital: Orléans

Champagne-Ardennes in the north of France.  Champagne is known for its bubbly; the less well known Ardennes offers medieval castles and puppets. Capital: Châlons-en-Champagne.

Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean south east from Nice, visited for its coastline and rugged interior. Capital: Ajaccio

Franche-Comté in the east bordering Switzerland, takes in the Jura mountains and is known for its sporting opportunities. Capital: Besançon

Ile de France is home to France’s capital city of Paris and its surrounding small towns and village, plus Versailles. Capital: Paris

Languedoc-Roussillon in the south on the Mediterranean is less well known than the Cote d’Azur but features lovely beaches, and the world’s most popular nudist resort, Cap d’Agde. Capital: Montpellier

Limousin in south/central France is the least populated French region, attracting those who want to get away from the crowds. Capital: Limoges

Lorraine in the east of France borders Germany. Metz houses the Pompidou-Metz Centre, well worth a visit. Capital: Nancy

Lower Normandy on the north coast of France has huge beaches, Calvados and attractions like Mont Saint-Michel. Capital: Caen

Midi-Pyrenees is the place for a slice of raw French history with its Cathar castles, Albi, the Pyrenees mountains and vibrant cities such as Toulouse. Capital: Toulouse

Nord-Pas de Calais on the north coast bordering Belgium offers stunning sandy beaches, pretty villages, great local markets and World War history. Capital: Lille

Pays de la Loire on the west coast of France has lovely countryside, grand castles along the Loire valley and a capital known for its famous machines. Capital: Nantes

Picardy in north France was devastated in two World Wars. Today it’s a delightful region with marshes, rolling countryside and great cathedrals and churches. Capital: Amiens

Poitou Charentes with its coastline in west France has Atlantic beaches and cities that include coastal La Rochelle. Capital: Poitiers

Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur (PACA) has everything, from mountains and hilltop villages to glorious cities, and the Mediterranean. Capital: Nice

Rhône-Alpes borders Italy and Switzerland, has the stunning Alps and offers sporting challenges. Capital: Lyon

Upper Normandy on the north coast is a pretty region with important agriculture products, glorious countryside and was much beloved by 19th- century Impressionist artists. Capital: Rouen

Here’s a guide to French departments with their names, numbers and explanation of their set up