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The 101 Departments and 27, Nope, Make That 18 Regions of France


DonRocks
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I found a really nice map of the 101 Departments of France. Departments fall within Regions (there are 18 Regions of France), and are the geographical unit where the French self-identify as "being from." Each department has it's own "Prefecture," which is the equivalent of "Capital" in English - these are shown on the map as well. 

Here's another good resource: "Departments of France" by france-pub.com which lists the departments by number. While driving in France, you can tell where the person in front of you is from, because the first two numbers of each license plate is the department number in which it's registered.

And here's the map of all 101 departments along with their 2718 mainland regions, in which you can clearly see which departments fall within which regions. It may be 200 miles as the crow flies between Alpes-Maritimes (in the far southeast) and Pyrenées-Orientales (in the far southeast of the Spanish border), but unless you take the Autoroute, it will be the longest 200 miles you will ever drive.

Before Jan 1, 2016: French Departments map.png After Jan 1, 2016: Regions.jpg

The good news for students of geography and cartography is that the regions merely "merged" as of Jan 1, 2016 - they didn't grow, other than by being conglomerated with other regions (if you toggle back-and-forth between the two maps, you can see they fit together like pieces in a puzzle). For example, Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes, and Limousin merged to become Nouvelle-Aquitaine (scroll down and see the third post below).

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On 2/16/2016 at 2:07 PM, DonRocks said:

And here's a really nice map of the 22 mainland regions, in which you can clearly see which departments fall within which regions. It may be 200 miles as the crow flies between Alpes-Maritimes (in the far southeast) and Pyrenées-Orientales (in the far southeast of the Spanish border), but unless you take the Autoroute, it will be the longest 200 miles you will ever drive.

We're quite literally living through a historic period right now: This year, France is officially changing the number of regions from 27 (22 in the mainland) down to 18 (13 in the mainland). The overseas regions are staying the same, but the net effect is that the number of regions in mainland France is shrinking by 1/3 in 2016.

Consequently, the size of the regions is growing by an average of 50%.

Here's the deal:

1) At the end of 2014, France established the boundaries of the 13 new regions, basically "adding together" some smaller regions. For example, the two regions "Bourgogne" and "Franche-Comté" are now rolled into one. Here's the official map with the new boundaries:

Dec 17, 2014 - "La Carte à 13 Regions Définitivement Adoptée" on lemonde.fr

2) The French government in Paris left it up to the regions themselves to decide on their new names.

3) As of March, 2016, 6 regions have temporary names (this is unimportant in the long run).

4) Each region was required to make a final decision about its name by July 1, 2016.

5) The final decree will take place on October 1, 2016.

So, come October 1, 2016 we'll have the 13 new, official regions of France; as of now, it remains unknown (to me, anyway) what those names will be.

French citizens self-identify as being from (the smaller) departments; not (the larger) regions. As a parallel, imagine if the U.S.A. had "official" region names, such as "Mid-Atlantic" and "New England." People living in the Washington, DC area don't really self-identify as being from the "Mid-Atlantic," so if the (fictional) official name (and boundary) was changed to "New England-Mid-Atlantic," it wouldn't disrupt our everyday lives. 

It's the same way in France. In fact, "Bourgogne-Franche-Comté" has been chosen by them as the final, official name, and its geographical boundaries are derived from "adding together" the former boundaries of "Bourgogne" and "Franche-Comté."

This isn't *that* big a deal, especially since the system of "regions" wasn't established until 1982, but it has been 34 years, so an entire generation has lived with the previous names. Put it this way: It's a big enough deal to merit a post on donrockwell.com.

PS - Scroll up.

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