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All About the French Regions
Have you ever heard that France is much more than Paris, its capital? Well, it is true!
No other country has such a diversity of sights and scenery in such a compact area (547,030 sq. km) than France. From the north’s flat and fertile lands washed by the Atlantic Ocean to the sunny stone-built villages of the southeast’s Mediterranean coast, France is a colorful country well worth exploring.
Since January 2016, France has been divided into 18 French regions: 13 regions of France are on the European continent, and 5 French regions are overseas. While some French regions like Ile de France remain as they were before the 2016 changes, other regions like Alsace, Champagne, and Bourgogne are today part of new, bigger French regions such as Grand Est and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.
Despite the reduction in the number of regions, the regions of France still have their own distinctive character and particularities, which we will showcase in this article.
The regions in France are incredibly varied, and they have much to offer: culture and heritage, traditions and gastronomic terroirs, sea or mountain, city or countryside. So pack your bags and let’s explore the map of France regions and their main attractions.
Map of France & French Regions List
The Map of France below features the regions in France’s mainland and Corsica Island. This Regions of France Map does not include the regions in France which are overseas; these are in the Caribbean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean.
The French Regions Map is divided into French regions (the parts of France with different colors), and these regions of France are then divided into French departments.
There are 95 departments located in France Mainland, 2 in Corsica, and 5 departments overseas. Below, next to the department names, we have included the department numbers (e.g., Ain (01)).
France Tourist Map
This colorful map of France is the France tourist map, with the names of the main cities in France and some of France’s main tourist attractions by region. On this tourist Map of France, you can also see France’s main rivers: Seine, Loire, Garonne, Rhône, and Ill.
Regions of France List
Northern France: Normandy, Hauts de France, Ile de France
Southern France: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Occitanie, Corsica Island
Central France: Centre-Val de Loire
Eastern France: Grand Est, Auvergne-Rhône Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche Comté
Western France: Bretagne, Pays de la Loire, Nouvelle Aquitaine
In this article, we only focus on the regions of France’s mainland and Corsica Island, and we will be covering France overseas in a different article.
Getting Around France
Getting around France is very easy, both by public and private transportation. The two most popular ways to explore France on public transport is by train and by car on a road trip.
The main cities in France and French tourist attractions are well connected by train and within easy reach of Paris and each other thanks to TGV trains (Train à Grande Vitesse). From Paris, some great weekend getaways are possible with train journeys of just 4 hours or less.
A self-drive vacation is also a good option in France, especially if you want to go beyond the main sights. The country has a good number of well-maintained highways, but we recommend driving the secondary roads too: most of the best French road trips go through secondary, scenic routes.
Whether you’re looking to hug the coast or drive through some of the world’s best vineyards, or lavender fields, find your adventure with our e-book France by Car – 12 French Road Trip Ideas. All you need to supply is a car and a killer playlist.
Regions in France
Normandy, in Northern France, is one of the most visited regions of France by foreign tourists. And for a reason! Normandy offers the visitor a stunning coastline, picturesque villages, and idyllic countryside. Normandy is also famous for its rich history, its tower bells, cows, and cheese.
Normandy is a popular weekend getaway from Paris, and many hotels and restaurants thrive in Normandy, especially around the town of Deauville or Honfleur.
The Impressionist movement was born in Normandy, inspired by Monet’s ‘Impression’ of the sunrise at Le Havre.
Normandy is divided into five departments: Calvados (14), Eure (27), Manche (50), Orne (61), Seine-Maritime (76). Normandy’s main cities are Le Havre, Caen, and Rouen.
Normandy Top Tourist Attractions: the Abbey at Mont St Michel, D-Day Landing Sites, medieval Bayeux, Honfleur harbor, Rouen’s cathedral, chic Deauville, the Seine Valley, picturesque villages, Monet’s Gardens in Giverny.
Hauts-de-France, in Northern France, is one of the lesser-known regions of France. And it is a pity because it is located just a stone’s throw from Paris.
Stretching from just outside the northern suburbs of Paris right up to the coastline of the English Channel, the former Nord Pas-de-Calais – Picardie region officially became the northernmost region of France with the regional changes in 2016.
The Hauts-de-France region is full of beautiful cathedrals, belfries, and citadels, and its plains bear witness to its mining history. It is also the region of the Channel beach resorts and relaxing seaside getaways on the Opal Coast.
Don’t miss beautiful Lille’s stock exchange or Notre Dame d’Amiens cathedral, one of the Grandes Cathédrales featuring the highest nave in France.
Hauts-de-France is divided into five departments: Aisne (02), Nord (59), Oise (60), Pas-de-Calais (62), Somme (80). The main cities in Hauts-de-France are Lille, Amiens, Roubaix, and the port-cities of Dunkerque (Dunkirk), and Calais.
Hauts-de-France Top Tourist Attractions: Amiens Cathedral, Domaine de Chantilly, Dunkirk, the seaside resort of Le Touquet, Lille, the Somme Bay & WW1 battlefields.
Unlike its neighbor, the Hauts-de-France, Ile-de-France in Northern France is one of the most visited regions in France, mainly thanks to Paris. After visiting the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower, venture beyond the Boulevard Périphérique to explore what Ile de France has to offer.
Some attractions like the Palace of Versailles or Disneyland Paris are known to all, but there are many more interesting things to see and do in Ile de France.
Visitors can enjoy nature and relaxation in one of the four regional natural parks while history buffs can learn about the Kings and Queens of France in amazing historical sites such as Château de Fontainebleau or Saint-Denis Basilica-Cathedral.
Picturesque villages are never far from the capital, and places like Auvers-Sur-Oise or Bougival were immortalized by Van Gogh, Renoir, or the Impressionists.
Ile-de-France is divided into eight departments: Paris (75), Seine-et-Marne (77), Yvelines (78), Essonne (91), Hauts-de-Seine (92), Seine-Saint-Denis (93), Val-de-Marne (94), Val-d’Oise (95). The main cities in Ile-de-France are Paris, Boulogne-Billancourt, Saint-Denis, and Versailles.
Ile-de-France Top Tourist Attractions: Paris, Versailles, Château de Fontainebleau, Disneyland Paris, Château de Vincennes, Provins medieval city, Saint-Denis Basilica Cathedral.
The region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, in Southern France, has everything to make visitors happy: The French Riviera’s sunny beaches and chic resorts, the endless lavender fields and stone villages of Provence, picturesque marinas, secluded creeks with turquoise waters, great hikes and skiing in the wintertime, and excellent gastronomy.
Bordering Monaco and Italy, cities like Nice or Cannes in Côte d’Azur are often the departure point of a French Riviera road trip or a stop of longer trips to Italy.
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA between friends) is one of the most visited regions of France. It gets hot and crowded in the summer, but it is an excellent travel destination in spring or fall when the crowds are gone, and the temperatures are mild.
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is divided into six departments: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04), Hautes-Alpes (05), Alpes-Maritimes (06), Bouches-du-Rhône (13), Var (83), Vaucluse (84). The main cities in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur are Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Nice, Toulon, and Avignon.
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Top Tourist Attractions: Marseille, the Alps Maritimes, French Riviera (St Tropez, Nice, Cannes, Antibes), villages of Provence, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Arles, and Calanques de Marseille-Cassis.
Traveling to Occitanie is like going back to the basics: the land, the sea, and the sky. Lesser-known than its chic neighbor, Occitanie in Southern France, is a fantastic region to explore, nestled between the Pyrénées and the Mediterranean Sea.
Less frenetic than Provence and the French Riviera but definitely more affordable, Occitanie is a land of sunny stone-built villages, vertiginous citadels, great hikes in the mountains, and fascinating history. A land where its inhabitants like to take their time and enjoy the small pleasures of this life.
Occitanie does not lack lively for cities, with Roussillon, Toulouse, and Albi, Toulouse Lautrec’s birthplace. History buffs will want to head to Rocamadour or Carcassonne, the gate to the fascinating Cathar Country.
Occitanie is divided into thirteen departments: Ariège (09), Aude (11), Aveyron (12), Gard (30), Haute-Garonne (31), Gers (32), Hérault (34), Lot (46), Lozère (48), Hautes-Pyrénées (65), Pyrénées-Orientales (66), Tarn (81),Tarn-et-Garonne (82). The main cities in Occitanie are Toulouse, Montpellier, Nîmes, Perpignan, and Béziers.
Occitanie Top Tourist Attractions: Carcassonne and the Cathar Country, Albi, Toulouse, the Pyrénées, the Camargue, Rocamadour, Nîmes, Pont du Gard, the valleys of the Cévennes, and Canal de Midi.
The region of Centre-Val-de-Loire, in Central France, gets its name from the Loire River, the longest river in France. Irrigated by the Loire and its many tributaries, the Loire Valley, this beautiful French region produces excellent wines perfectly complemented with savorous regional food.
Beloved by Kings, Queens, and artists, this French region is also the cradle of the Renaissance in France and world-famous thanks to its amazing Châteaux de la Loire and their remarkable gardens that line the river. The Loire Valley Castles are today one of the most popular tourist attractions in France.
Centre-Val-de-Loire is also one of the regions of France that attracts large numbers of bike tourists: it sees more than 1 million bikers per year!. Indeed, La Loire à Vélo (the Loire by bike) is perhaps the best way to explore this beautiful region.
The region of Centre-Val-de-Loire is divided into six departments: Cher (18), Eure-et-Loir (28), Indre (36), Indre-et-Loire (37), Loir-et-Cher (41), and Loiret (45).The main cities in the region are Tours, Orléans, and Bourges.
Centre-Val-de-Loire Top Tourist Attractions: Loire Valley Castles, the Loire by bike, Chartres and Bourges Cathedrals, Loire Valley vineyards, the historical cities and towns of Tours, Blois, Chinon, and Anjou.
Grand Est, in Eastern France, incorporates the former French regions known prior to the 2016 changes as Alsace, Champagne-Ardennes, and Lorraine. Bordering Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, Grand Est is a place with many tourist attractions, a land of memory, and it was the theater of some of the most important battles of WW1.
Alsace is a land between the Germanic and Latin worlds, a mosaic of hills, mountains, and plains, dotted with castles, vineyards, and picturesque villages. Champagne, on the other hand, is best known for its bubbles and historical cities like Reims and Troyes.
In the French region of Grand Est, you are never far from the forest: the Vosges and the Regional Parks of Ardennes and Lorraine.
Grand Est is divided into ten departments: Ardennes (08), Aube (10), Marne (51), Haute-Marne (52), Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Meuse (55), Moselle (57), Bas-Rhin (67), Haut-Rhin (68), and Vosges (88). The main cities in Grand Est are Strasbourg, Metz, Nancy, Reims, and Colmar.
Grand Est Top Tourist Attractions: Alsace Wine Route, Champagne’s vineyards, Reims Cathedral, Verdun and other WW1 historical sites, Strasbourg, Troyes, the villages of Alsace, Nancy, the Vosges, and the Ardennes.
It’s impossible not to love Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, in Eastern France. Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is one of the most varied regions in France, offering a wide range of different destinations to satisfy every traveler. This new region of Franceincludesthepre-2016regions of Auvergne and Rhône Alpes.
Auvergne is the land of volcanoes and hot spas but also the land of Romanesque churches, and good cheese.
Protected natural reserves, almost a hundred volcanoes, walking trails, Romanesque churches, and more than 20,000 kilometers of waterways, all this and more is waiting for you in this blessed land. What are you waiting for to explore Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes?
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is divided into thirteen departments: Ain (01), Allier (03), Ardèche (07), Cantal (15), Drôme (26), Isère (38), Loire (42), Haute-Loire (43), Puy-de-Dôme (63), Rhône (69D), Métropole de Lyon (69M), Savoie (73), Haute-Savoie (74).The main cities in the region are Lyon, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne, Chambéry, Valence, Annecy, and Clermont-Ferrand.
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Top Tourist Attractions: Lyon, the Auvergne Volcanoes, famous ski resorts in the French Alps (Chamonix, Courchevel, Mérivel, Val d’Isère . .), Annecy and its lake, the spa town of Vichy, Clermont Ferrand, and Puy-en-Velay (a major pilgrimage site).
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in Eastern France is the land of world-famous wines, picturesque small towns, and snails. This new France region comprises the former regions of Bourgogne (Burgundy) and Franche-Comté.
The region formerly known as Burgundy is famous for its Romanesque heritage, some of the best vineyards of France, good gastronomy, beautiful Rennaissance and Medieval castles, and river tourism. Bourgogne actually has the largest network of inland waterways in France.
Franche-Comté, conversely, is well known for its diverse landscapes and large open spaces thanks to the wealth of the Vosges Massif, the Jura mountains, and its many lakes and forests.
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is definitely an excellent combination of heritage – gastronomy, and nature at its best.
The region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is divided into eight departments: Côte-d’Or (21), Doubs (25), Jura (39), Nièvre (58), Haute-Saône (70), Saône-et-Loire (71), Yonne (89), Territoire de Belfort (90). The main cities in the region are Dijon, Besançon, Montbéliard, and Belfort.
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Top Tourist Attractions: Natural Park of Ballons des Vosges, the Jura, the picturesque Burgundy villages, the Royal Salt Works at Arc-et-Senans, Route des Grands Crus and other Burgundy wine routes, Cluny Abbey, Vézelay, Dijon, and Beaune.
We must admit that we have a crush on Bretagne, this French region is so varied and beautiful!
The westernmost region of France is a region of tradition, character, Celtic roots, and legends. It is a land of wild and amazing landscapes, from rocky coastlines and cliffs to moorland and medieval towns.
But of course, there is much more! Brittany is also a land of sailors, isolated lighthouses, oysters, amazing coastal walks, and the Carnac alignments. Brittany is magical, culture, crêpes & cider, traditional festivals, and, most of all, true nature.
Brittany is divided into four departments: Côtes-d’Armor (22), Finistère (29), Ille-et-Vilaine (35), and Morbihan (56). The main cities in the region are Rennes, Brest, and Quimper.
Bretagne Top Tourist Attractions: Rennes, Saint Maló, the Islands, GR34 (coastal multi-day hike), Carnac alignments, Gulf of Morbihan, Emerald Coast, and the Pink Granite Coast.
Located in Western France, Pays de la Loire is a region of châteaux and vineyards, with Nantes as its capital.
Pays de la Loire is lesser known than the neighboring region Centre-Val de Loire, and perhaps it lacks top tourist attractions, but this does not mean that it is not an interesting region to be explored. Crossed from east to west by the Loire River and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Pays de La Loire showcases a stunning coastline, charming towns and villages, varied natural landscapes, and cultural cities.
Nantes, the Dukes of Brittany’s historic capital, is packed with interesting things to see and do, followed by historic cities of Angers and Le Mans. The latter is best known for its legendary racetrack and its prestigious 24-hour race.
History buffs will love to visit Fontevraud Abbey, the final resting place for a line of monarchs starting with Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and Richard the Lionheart. Children will have a blast at Puy du Fou, one of the country’s most-visited theme parks, with medieval and fantasy-style shows.
Pays de la Loire is divided into five departments: Loire-Atlantique (44), Maine-et-Loire (49), Mayenne (53), Sarthe (72), and Vendée (85). The main cities in the region are Nantes, Angers, Le Mans, and Saint-Nazaire.
Pays de La Loire Top Tourist Attractions: the Atlantic Coast’s delightful landscapes, vineyards, 24 hours of Le Mans, Angers, Les Machines de l’Ile in Nantes, Puy du Fou, Fontevraud Abbey.
It’s almost impossible to get bored in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Located in Western France, this is the French region of mountains and forests, prehistoric caves, beaches, medieval villages, and some of the most beautiful castles in France.
Its 720 kilometers of coasts are a paradise for surfers while people looking for a quiet vacation can enjoy no less than 30 spa towns, including Dax, France’s top spa town.
Nouvelle-Aquitaine is also a delight for foodies, with excellent Bordeaux wines and around twenty Michelin starred restaurants.
Sun, history, dynamism, and gastronomy . . . there’s a great French vacation for everyone in Nouvelle Aquitaine!
Nouvelle-Aquitaine is divided into twelve departments: Charente (16), Charente-Maritime (17), Corrèze (19), Creuse (23), Dordogne (24), Gironde (33), Landes (40), Lot-et-Garonne (47), Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64), Deux-Sèvres (79), Vienne (86), and Haute-Vienne (87). The main cities in the region are Bordeaux, Limoges, and Poitiers.
Nouvelle Aquitaine Top Tourist Attractions: Bordeaux and the Cité du Vin, Arcachon and Dune de Pilat, Saint Emilion, the Landes Forest, the Atlantic Pyrénées, Lascaux prehistoric cave, Dordogne and the Périgord, the Basque Country, La Rochelle, Ile-de-Ré.
Last but not least, there is the island region of Corsica (La Corse), on the Mediterranean Sea in Southern France. Corsica’s capital is the city of Ajaccio.
Lying 200 kilometers from the French Riviera, the homeland of Napoleon Bonaparte and one of the most beautiful French Islands, Corsica is like a mini-continent, with hilltop villages and hiking trails, beaches, and idyllic turquoise waters.
Corsica is far away, we know, but don’t hesitate to discover the extraordinary landscapes of this beautiful island. Corsica is best explored by car, and it is very easy to rent a car in Europe.
Corsica is divided into two departments: Corse-du-Sud (2A), and Haute-Corse (2B).
Corsica Top Tourist Attractions: Calanques de Piana, Calvi citadel, its beaches, Porto Vecchio, Bonifacio, water sports.
Have you visited the different Regions of France? What is your favorite one?
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