There is a new type of territorial unit in France, the métropole (metropolis). It unites many communes for certain purposes. Most but not all metropolises are contained within a single department. Nice Côte d'Azur became the first metropolis on 2011-12-31. Bordeaux, Brest, Grenoble-Alpes, Lille, Grand Lyon, Montpellier, Nantes, Rennes, Rouen-Normandie, Eurométropole de Strasbourg, and Toulouse were added on 2015-01-01. Grand Lyon acts as both a department and a metropolis. There are two new metropolises due to be formed on 2016-01-01: Grand Paris, consisting of the departments of Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne; and Aix-Marseille Provence. See sources  and .
On 2016-01-01, a reorganization of regions took effect. In 2009, Balladur committee recommended reorganizing France from the then 22 regions to 15. The same report also proposed to eliminate the cantons. Later, François Hollande, the president of France, put forth a plan to reduce the number of regions from 22 to 14 by merging certain regions. A few regions would remain unchanged. The departments remain, but their powers are diminished and the expectation is that they will eventually fade away. One reason for the reform is to save money by cutting the territorial administrative load. The plan underwent successive modifications, cutting the number of regions to 13 at last. A specific set of mergers was announced as final on 2014-06-02, to take effect in 2015-03. On 2014-07-16, the plan was modified again. On 2014-11-25, the National Assembly adopted this modified plan, with an effective date of 2015-12-31.
The departments originated in 1790, and the regions only in 1960. The regions had little power to begin with, but they have been growing stronger and the departments weaker. I have now promoted the regions to the status of primary administrative divisions.
Insee, the French statistics agency, says that the 1999 census was the last. It uses a more complex method of measuring population now, the details of which are beyond the scope of this site. Every year a set of legal populations are published, with a statistical reference date of January 1 of a prior year. Actually, each subdivision has several population figures, such as "metropolitan population" and "total population." I will be reporting total population, which counts some people twice.
The NUTS code scheme was revised in 2003. The digit '0' was appended to the codes for Île-de-France and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions to make all the region codes the same length.
On 2013-04-07, voters in Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin departments fell short of the vote needed to merge those two departments with the region of Alsace. That part of France would have had no government at the department level. Corsica considered the same kind of merger in 2003, but the referendum failed narrowly. Those departments still exist, but are united in the same regions. The idea underlying all such proposals is that France is overgoverned; its five layers of subdivisions are too expensive and inefficient.
ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-3 is dated 2011-12-15. For France, its changes are mostly just reorderings.
ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number II-1, dated 2010-02-03, has changes to the listing for France, but nothing that affects data reported on this site. The main change is putting the territorial collectivities in alphabetical order.
ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-9 was published on 2007-11-28. It adds Clipperton Island (ISO code
FR-CP) to France as a
dependency (dépendance), and Saint Barthélemy (
FR-BL) and Saint Martin (
FR-MF) as overseas territorial
collectivities (collectivités territoriales d'outre-mer), to correspond to the changes in status that took place this year. The codes
for Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin are redundant, because they also have separate country codes. The newsletter also changes the
status of French Polynesia, French Southern Territories, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna from overseas territories to overseas
territorial collectivities, probably reflecting changes that took place in 2004.
Clipperton Island has been placed directly under the administration of the French Overseas Ministry. Technically, it is now a public domain of the French state (domaine public de l'État français, propriété domaniale de l’État). As such, it is part of France, but not part of any other subdivision of France. Since it has no permanent inhabitants, I have exercised my editorial prerogatives by listing it under French Polynesia, where it belongs geographically and historically.
ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. It corrects an error in the original standard document which placed the department of Deux-Sèvres in the wrong region.
|Time zone||+1 ~|
Alsace-Lorraine has changed hands several times between France and Germany. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Germany won the territory. France recovered it in the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. It was placed under German administration in 1940, but restored to France in 1944 as the German army retreated. It has remained part of France ever since.
ISO code note: ISO standard 3166 contains a specific disclaimer stating that the scope of different codes may overlap. It even
gives France and Martinique as an example, explaining that although Martinique is part of France (and presumably covered by the code
FR), it also has its own code
MQ. However, the only cases of overlap seem to follow the same paradigm as
Martinique. The remote territories of a colonial power have their own listings, but can also be considered as covered under the mother
country. Until 1993, it was possible to use the standard as if its countries were disjoint, by ignoring the disclaimer and making the
mental proviso that codes like
FR applied to the mother country only. In 1993, the code
FX was added to the
FX is described as referring to Metropolitan France, excluding territories such as Martinique. It was withdrawn
again in 1997, but remains an "exceptionally reserved code element".
Land of the Franks.
France, in Europe and adjacent islands (Corsica), is divided into 13 régions (regions). It also has a number of possessions, some of which are classified as régions d'outre-mer (overseas regions). The overseas regions are nominally equivalent in status to the continental ones, but they are listed as separate countries here, following ISO 3166-1.
|Centre-Val de Loire||2,619,613||39,151||15,116||Orléans|
|Pays de la Loire||3,676,582||32,082||12,387||Nantes|
France uses five-digit postal codes (codes postaux). The first two digits of the postal code are the same as the ISO code for the department, except for Corse-du-Sud (ISO code 2A, postal codes 200xx-201xx) and Haute-Corse (2B, 202xx). A few places have postal codes corresponding to a neighboring department. Note: postal codes for French addresses can be identified by prefixing them with "F-".
See the Departments of France page.
See the Arrondissements of France page.
The departments of France are subdivided into arrondissements. These should not be confused with the municipal arrondissements, which are subdivisions of the three largest communes by population: Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. The municipal arrondissements are numbered. The arrondissements constituting the tertiary level of subdivision of France have names, usually after one or more cities in them. The arrondissements were formerly always subdivided into cantons. In 2015, the cantons were reorganized so that they may sometimes span more than one arrondissement. Communes are the basic building block of France: both arrondissements and cantons are subdivided into communes. (The same words, arrondissement, canton, and commune, are generally used in English. The basic meaning of arrondissement is a rounding off, or rounding out.) In densely populated areas, there may be several cantons in a commune. Municipal arrondissements are legally equivalent to cantons. On 1988-01-01, there were 22 regions, 96 departments, 326 arrondissements, 3,827 cantons, and 36,538 communes in metropolitan France (France in Europe, including Corsica). The word circonscription (circumscription, constituency) is used in France and its former colonies to describe an administrative division at any level.
In the past, various ministries of the French government found it convenient to group the departments into régions. Each one used a slightly different grouping. In 1960, a common set of 21 regions was adopted as a standard for all ministries. The regions have gradually taken on an administrative structure, including councils, elections, and budgets. For a country the size of France, 96 departments is an unwieldy number. Now the regions have become the primary administrative divisions.
FR-prefixed, making it possible to represent them as parts of France. In addition, ISO gives Clipperton Island the code
FR-CP(but no country code). I have called Clipperton Island part of French Polynesia for classification purposes.
Since France so often re-uses name elements (there are six departments and one region containing Loire in their names), I have given the probable origins of name elements rather than of the full names.
|Pays de la Loire||3,676,582||32,082||Nantes|
The six regions whose NUTS codes begin with FR2 form a group which the NUTS standard designates as Bassin Parisien. Similarly, FR4 is Est; FR5 is Ouest; FR6 is Sud-Ouest; FR7 is Centre-Est; and FR8 is Méditerranée. The NUTS codes beginning with FR9 are assigned to the overseas departments.
|Centre-Val de Loire||2,440,329||2,619,613|
|Pays de la Loire||3,222,061||3,676,582|
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