Departemental Issues

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    The administrative divisions of France. As there's rather a lot of them, they are grouped into 26 regions, four outside France itself and the other 22 in France. Each is allocated a number, which appears on French postcodes and car registrations.


    During the 19th and early 20th century, both Alsace and Lorraine belonged to France (until 1871). Then to Imperial Germany (1871-1919). The French got them back after WWI but Hitler annexed them back in 1940. Finally back in France in 1945. It is historically a German-speaking region, and much of its culture has a strong German influence, although today the locals speak French.

    The capital is Strasbourg, home of the European Parliament.

    Consists of:

    • Bas-Rhin (67): "Lower Rhine"
    • Haut-Rhin (68): "Upper Rhine"


    Aquitaine was already considered a specific region under the Roman Empire, where it consisted of a good chunk of the south-western part of Gaul. Nowadays, it is significantly smaller, but it is still one of the biggest region of France. It consists of:

    • Dordogne (24)
    • Gironde (33)
    • Landes (40)
    • Lot-et-Garonne (47)
    • Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64)

    Mainly known for Bordeaux, its capital, considered to be also the capital of the wine industry, the Bay of Arcachon with the Great Dune of Pyla nearby (the tallest sand dune in Europe), and the caves of Lascaux. Le Pays Basque, the french part of the Basque Country is also located in this region.


    The Massif Central covers a good part of this historical region. This chain of mountains is quite famous for its extinct volcanoes, such as the Puy de Dôme, which gave its name to one of the départements. The region is also where you can find the city of Vichy, la Reine des villes d'eaux (the Queen of the Spa Towns), which used to be the capital of the Vichy Regime during WWII. The capital is Clermont-Ferrand ("Michelin-Town"), located in the aforementioned département. It includes :

    • Allier (03)
    • Cantal (15)
    • Haute-Loire (43)
    • Puy-de-Dôme (63)

    Bourgogne (Burgundy)

    Historically, it is famous for siding aginst France during the Hundred Years' War. (Although other regions such as Aquitaine did the same at the time). Culturally, it is famous for its cuisine, to which we owe a lot (including les escargots de Bourgogne, the famous snails). The capital is Dijon (yes, the mustard), and the departments are :

    • Côte-d'Or (21)
    • Nièvre (58)
    • Saône-et-Loire (71)
    • Yonne (89)

    Bretagne (Brittany)

    Only 80% of historical Brittany, the other 20% belonging to Pays de Loire to avoid a Rennes-Nantes rivalry. Rennes is the capital of this section, made up of:

    • Côtes-d'Armor (22)
    • Finistère (29)
    • Ille-et-Vilaine (35)
    • Morbihan (56)

    Pretty Celtic in culture (it's part of the 6 Celtic nations with Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and the Isle of Man) and the local language, Breton, is being revived. Famous for its crepes (Krampouezh) and its cider (Sistr). In France, it also holds a reputation for being perpetually rainy.


    Located in the center of France, it is known for two things : the Loire Valley and its famous châteaux, and the fact that it is the only region with no cultural identity whatsoever. In fact, it's constitued of various smaller historical provinces, like Berry or Anjou, and some of them where even in conflict. It is often said that Centre was made with the leftovers when all the other regions where created. The capital is Orléans, but the biggest city is Tours.

    Consists of:

    • Cher (18)
    • Eure-et-Loir (28)
    • Indre (36)
    • Indre-et-Loire (37)
    • Loir-et-Cher (41)
    • Loiret (45)


    Made of the historical province of Champagne (whose name probably reminds you of something), and the Ardennes forest, located in the north-eastern part of France. The capital is Châlons-en-Champagne. Consists of:

    • Ardennes (08)
    • Aube (10)
    • Marne (51)
    • Haute-Marne (52)

    Corse (Corsica)

    Nicknamed Île de Beauté (Isle of Beauty), the island of Corsica is located in the Mediterranean, right to the north of Sardaigne. Occupied for a long time by various countries, it was briefly independent in 1735, until 1769 where it was definitely conquered by France.

    Even today, Corsicans are a pretty independent people. A 2003 referendum on increased autonomy was voted down by a very thin majority: 50.98 percent against to 49.02 percent for. Ironically, despite this indepenent spirit, the island also contributed to the history of France by being the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte himself.

    Corsican girls also hold a reputation for being extremely beautiful, but since it brought us women such as Laetitia Casta or Alizée, this might not be just a stereotype.

    The capital is Ajaccio.

    Consists of:

    • Corse-du-Sud (2A)
    • Haute-Corse (2B)


    One of the few regions which sensibly corresponds to an historical province, the County of Burgundy (not to confound with the Duchy of Burgundy). Its is bordered by Switzerland on the right and the Jura Mountains (which gave its name to the Jurassic) are located here. The capital is Besançon.

    Consists of:

    • Doubs (25)
    • Jura (39)
    • Haute-Saône (70)
    • Territoire de Belfort (90)


    The center and heart of France, covering Paris and the outskirts (la banlieue), whose inhabitants are known as Franciliens. Urban and businesslike in culture, very populated of course (11 millions as of 2008), though the most far-off outskirts still manage to remain rural.

    Consisting of:


    Consisting of:

    • Nord (59)
    • Pas-de-Calais (62)

    Nord is the historical Western half of Flanders and Pas-de-Calais contains, as the name implies, the port of Calais. This area played key roles in both World Wars. In France, it used to hold a very bad reputation for being extremely poor, polluted and backward. The extremely succesful movie Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis completely changed that vision of things

    The capital is Lille.


    A big one, this region of southern France, consisting of:

    • Ain (01)
    • Ardéche (07)
    • Drôme (26)
    • Haute-Savoie (74)
    • Isére (38)
    • Loire (42)
    • Rhône (69)
    • Savoie (73)

    Contains (obviously) part of the French Alps (P.A.C.A. containing the other part), and the large city of Lyon, the capital.