France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Régions & Départements of France
France has a bewildering number of place-names: régions, départements, arrondissements, cantons, communes & more. Here's what the names mean.



Régions of France

As of January 2016, France has 18 régions, the modern large-scale administrative divisions of the country. The régions, which used to number 22, levy some taxes and administer much of the infrastructure and educational systems in each part of the country.

Thirteen of these régions are in La France métropolitaine (mainland European France plus the island of Corsica); the other five are overseas (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, etc.)

13 Regions of France


Smaller than the régions, the 96 numbered départements are divisions similar to counties, with administrative powers over some educational institutions, roads, and infrastructure:

Départements of France Map

Here's a map of the départements of the Île-de-France région—the region of Paris:

Map of Départements in the Île-de-France region of France

Notice Paris (75) at the center, surrounded by the départements of Seine-et-Marne (77), Yvelines (79), Essonne (91), Hauts-de-Seine (92), Seine-Saint-Denis (93), Val-de-Marne (94), and Val-d'Oise (95). The other names on this map are of the principal towns.

Arrondissements & Cantons

The 96 départements are divided into 323 arrondissements, and the arrondissements are divided into 1,995 cantons. The largest cities—Paris, Lyon and Marseille—are divided into municipal arrondissements as well.

Cantons are subdivided into 36,529 communes.


A commune in France is the equivalent of a village, town or township. Here's a map of all the towns in the Île-de-France, the region surrounding Paris:

Map of Communes in Île-de-France (region of Paris)

It Gets Worse...

France also has communes associées, communautés urbaines, communautés d'agglomération, communautés de communes and even more obscure local administrative divisions. You may notice these names, but you don't have to learn them!

Where to Go in France

When to Go to France

Transport in France

Finding Your Way Around Paris

Paris Transport

Paris Itineraries & Tours

Excursions from Paris


Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel: three girls, so many secrets...


Arrondissements of Paris, France

The arrondissements of Paris, once communes (villages) in their own right...

Chamonix, Rhône-Alpes, France

Chamonix, a commune in the département
of Haute-Savoie, in the région of Rhône-Alpes.

FTP on Facebook    
Pinterest    Twitter