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A Complete Guide to the Regions of France

Last Updated on 15th January 2023 by Sophie Nadeau

Between snow-capped mountain peaks, large sand dunes, villages that look like they’ve been plucked straight out of a fairytale and endless lakes, it’s clear that there’s perhaps no country more diverse in its offerings in western Europe than France. France is actually divided into 18 administrative regions, all of which have their own unique culture, history, and sometimes even their own language. Here’s a short guide to the regions of France.

regions of france map
A Complete Guide to the Regions of France

Regions of France in Metropolitan France


This region was formed in 2016 by combining the former regions of Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes. The capital city is Lyon. Other major attractions in the region include partaking in winter sports (this area is home to both Chamonix and Mont Blanc), the delightful town of Annecy and the Romanesque churches of Auvergne.

Beautiful street in Vieux Lyon, Lyon, France


Brittany was not changed in the administrative reforms of 2016 and the capital of the region is Rennes. From fairytale towns to rugged coastline, Brittany is a place where land meets the sea and myths come to life. Salty sea air constantly whips through the French region, never letting up and ever bringing fresh, new, and exciting changes to the area.

visit paimpol brittany


This region was formed in 2016 by merging Burgundy and Franche-Comté. The capital is Dijon, a delightful Burgundian town whose symbol is an owl and is best-associated with mustard.

Some of the top things to do in the area include sampling Bourgogne wines, visiting the 17th-century Vauban designed citadel of Besançon, relaxing in the Jura lakes, and following the Burgundy wine trails.

How to Go Mustard Tasting in Dijon (And a Mustard History of Burgundy/ French moutarde!)

Centre-Val de Loire 

The Centre Val de Loire was not changed during the 2016 shakeup and the capital city is Orléans, the birthplace of Jeanne d’Arc. The area is perhaps best-known for being home to part of the château studded Loire Valley, which boasts architectural treasures such as Château de Chambord and Amboise.

tours cathedral


The island of Corsica sits proudly in the Mediterranean sea and the region’s boundaries remain the same following the 2016 administrative reformations. The capital city is Ajaccio and some of the best things to do on the island include relaxing on the beach, water sports, and going hiking.


Grand Est 

As its name would suggest, Grand Est is located in eastern France and was formed in 2016 when the former regions of Alsace, Champagne-Ardennes and Lorraine were merged. The capital city is Strasbourg, a delightful city which is self-proclaimed to be the capital of Christmas.

Some of the best things to do in the region include discovering pretty Alsatian towns, learning about WW1 history in what was formerly Lorraine, and sipping on Champagne in the former area of Champagne-Ardenne.

strasbourg christmas market


This region was formed in 2016 when Nord, Pas-de-Calais and Picardie were combined. The capital city is Lille. As its name would suggest, Hauts-de-France is located in upper eastern France, close to the border with Belgium.

Some of the best things to do in the region include sampling beer (Flemish influences can be found around every corner), exploring the Belgian inspired architecture of Lille, and visiting the Gothic cathedral of Amiens. Hauts-de-France is also where Astérix Park, one of the largest theme parks in France, is located.

lille street


Ile de France was not changed after the administrative reforms of 2016. The capital of the region is Paris, which is also the capital of France, making this one of the most important regions of France both culturally, fiscally, and logistically.

Of course, Paris is famed for its beautiful Haussmannian architecture, countless museums (well over 100), and world-famous cuisine, but Île de France has much more to offer than just the capital.

After all, this region is also home to Disneyland Paris and countless other famous attractions such as the Château of Versailles, and the medieval town of Provins. For more inspiration, be sure to check out our guide to the best towns near Paris.

Ultimate Guide to the Best of Jardin des Tuileries (+ A History) in Paris, France


The region of Normandy was formed from merging Upper and Lower Normandy in 2016 and the capital city is the timber-framed Rouen. Normandy is a geographical region in Northern mainland France.

The name ‘Normandy’ or ‘Normandie’ as it is so-called in France and derives from the old French meaning “northman”. Today, the region of Normandy roughly traces the former Duchy of Normandy and covers an area of 30,627 square kilometres.

Place de la Cathédrale rouen normandy

Nouvelle Aquitaine 

Nouvelle Aquitaine is formed of the former regions of Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes. The capital of the region is Bordeaux, a bustling and busy city which many Parisians claim is the city that they would most like to live in if they didn’t live in Paris.

One of Nouvelle Aquitaine’s most famous exports is wine, with the rich red Bordeaux wine, particularly those from Saint Emilion drawing visitors from far and wide on an annual basis.

Other top attractions in the region include the French Basque Country (including Biarritz and Saint Jean de Luz), the cave paintings of Lascaux, and exploring Dune du Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe.

10 Reasons to Visit Bordeaux (And it's not just the wine!). Here's what you ned to see in Bordeaux, the beautiful wine city of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, South West France, Europe


Occitanie can be found in the South West of France, close to the border with Spain. Also known as Occitania, this region is the most Southern point of Metropolitan France (excluding Corsica). The area consists of the former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées and is famous for its many castles, foodie scene, and medieval villages. The capital city is Toulouse.

l'enfant au bonnet d'âne (the child with a dunce cap statue), Secret Spots in Toulouse & A Complete Guide to the best of unusual, offbeat, and quirky things to do in La Ville Rose (the pink city), capital of Occitanie, Toulouse, South West France

Pays de la Loire 

Unlike many other regions of France, Pays de la Loire was not created in the administrative shakeup of 2016 and was instead created in the 1950s. The capital of the region is Nantes, a port city which is easy to visit over the course of a weekend.

Slide down Nantes Ducal Palace ramparts

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur 

Known as PACA for short, this region remained the same after the boundary redrawing of 2016. The capital city is Nice, best-known for the Promenade des Anglais, its vibrant nightlife, and its status as the gateway to the rest of the French Riviera.

Provence is a very varied region of France and boasts both the sea and mountains, as well as plenty of history. After all, Marseille is one of the oldest settlements in this area of France and was founded by the Ancient Greeks.

This is also one of the most popular places to go on holiday in l’Hexagone thanks to its abundance of lavender fields, medieval towns, and wealth of summer activities including hiking and water sports. For more inspiration, be sure to check out our guide to the best things to do in Provence.

A brief history of the Promenade des Anglais

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A Complete Guide to the Regions of France/ FRENCH REGIONS IN EUROPE

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She currently splits her time between Paris and London. Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.

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