France is located in Europe and covers an area of 248,573 square miles. Politically, it is divided into 13 metropolitan regions, which are further organized into departments. This article takes a closer look at each of the metropolitan regions of France.
The Corsica region is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea off the west coast of Italy. It has a total population size of 326,898 and covers an area of 3,350 square miles. Corsica has the unique designation of territorial collectivity, which means it has a higher degree of autonomy than the other metropolitan regions. This island is known for its mountains, coastlines, and forests, making it a popular tourist destination. In addition to tourism, its economy relies on the following exports: cheese, wine, granite, marble, olive oil, and citrus fruit.
12. Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is located in the southeastern region of France and has a long coastline along the Mediterranean, where the majority of its inhabitants reside. This region has a population size of over 4.9 million and covers a total area of 12,100 square miles. It is the third most important region in France with a gross domestic product of $183.1 billion. This region is home to a number of environmental habitats including: coastal areas, plains, and the Alps mountains. Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is known for its tourism, biotechnology, and microelectronics industries.
11. Pays de la Loire
Pays de la Loire is located in the northwestern region of France and has a short coastline along its southwestern border. It has a population size of a little more than 3.55 million and covers a total area of 12,387 square miles. Some of the most famous historical monuments in France are located in this region, including the Angers castle, the Royal Fontevraud Abbey, and Le Mans old city. The old city of Le Mans hosts the endurance sports car race, 24 Hours of Le Mans. Nantes is the regional capital and the 6th largest city in France.
The Normandy region is located along the northernmost coastline of France. It has a population size of over 3.32 million and covers an area of 11,547 square miles. The borders of this region are nearly identical to the ancient Duchy of Normandy, which existed between 911 and 1259 AD. Several rivers cross through here, including the well-known Seine river. The economy of Normandy relies on cider production, flax seeds, horse breeding, cattle breeding, seafood, and tourism. It is also home to the Mont Saint-Michel, an island fortification that is one of the region’s most visited tourist attractions.
The Hauts-de-France region is located in the northern-most central area of the country. It has a population size of more than 5.97 million and covers a total area of 12,283 square miles. This region is one of the newest in the country and was created in 2016 during the territorial reform of 2014 that merged the Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions. Its northeast border is shared with Belgium.
Occitania is located in the southern region of France. It has a total population size of over 5.62 million with a total area of 28,079 square miles. Like the Hauts-de-France region, Occitania is the result of the 2014 territorial reform. It was created as a result of the merger between Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon. Its name is derived from the Occitan language, which is widely spoken throughout the region. Capital Toulouse is the largest city in this region and the 4th largest in the country.
Ile-de-France is located in the north central region of the country. It includes the city of Paris and is the most populated region in the country with over 12 million residents, or 18.2% of the country’s population. This region covers an area of 4,638 square miles. It is the most important economic region of France, contributing approximately $760 billion to the national gross domestic product (GDP). Paris makes up 3 of its 8 departments and is home to the largest percentage of immigrants (35%) in Europe.
6. Centre-Val de Loire
Centre-Val de Loire is located in the central part of the country along the Loire Valley. It has a population of 2.53 million and covers a total area of 15,116 square miles. Centre-Val de Loire was officially created after the merger of the Berry, Touraine, and Orleanais regions. The economy of this region contributes around $86.3 billion to the national GDP. The region is known for its mild climate, wine, and abundance of chateaux homes, making it a popular tourist destination in France.
Brittany is located in the northwestern region of France, where it juts out into the North Atlantic in a peninsula-like manner. It has a population size of over 3.23 million and covers a total area of 10,505 square miles. This present-day Brittany region consists of approximately 80% of the historic Brittany province, which was important during the Roman era. The division of this historic province continues to be a point of contention for local residents. Its name is derived from the refugees who arrived in the area during the Anglo-Saxon invasion between the 5th and 7th centuries AD.
The Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region was created after the merger of the Burgundy and Franche-Comte regions. Its merger represents the reunification of the Duchy of Burgundy and the Free County of Burgundy, which were separated in 1477 AD. It has a total population of 2.81 million and covers an area of 18,450 square miles. This region shares a border with Switzerland to the east.
Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes is the result of a merger between Auvergne and Rhone-Alpes. It is located in the east central region of the country and covers an area of 26,916 square miles. This region has a total population size of over 7.69 million. It is known for its mountain ranges and river valleys. The economy here relies on beef, dairy, and tourism. Additionally, it is home to several universities, including: Saint Etienne, Lyon, and Grenoble.
2. New Aquitaine
The New Aquitaine region encompasses the former regions of Aquitaine, Limousin, and Poitou-Charentes. It is the largest region in the country, covering a total area of 32,456 square miles, and has a population size of around 5.8 million individuals. Of its 25 major urban areas, Bordeaux is the largest with 850,000 residents. It economy relies on agriculture, tourism, wine, finance, and aerospace.
The Grand-Est region was created after the merger of the Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine, and Alsace regions. It is located in the northeastern region of the country and covers an area of 22,175 square miles. Grand-Est has a population size of over 5.55 million. This region shares the most international borders in France with 4 countries: Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Its economy contributes around $207 billion to the national GDP.