Regions of France: A Useful Starter Guide for Newbies

If you are a first-time visitor looking to learn about the regions of France, there has been a shake-up in recent years, and any old map of France might be outdated. Before 2015, there were 22 French regions, but some merged, and now there are 13, and five overseas regions. In this article, we look at the main 13 regions within France itself. All of which break down into separate boroughs and communities, with something unique to offer. Altogether France covers 550,000 square kilometres, borders two seas and an ocean, and includes five mountain ranges. Taking this into consideration, when doing your geography research helps you realise just how big the country is.

About the 13 Regions of France

1: Auvergne

Sitting in the heart of France, Auvergne’s claim to fame is a perfect showcase display of Mother Nature. Boasting of many hot springs, and waterways, hikers often flock to nature parks to enjoy the many miles of marked walking trails, whitewater rafting, other summer activities, and the spa tourism industry thrives.

Auvergne

Come winter season, and it turns into an adventure playground as ski stations offer a variety of activities including skiing, and snowboarding. Aside from that, Auvergne has beautiful villages and major cities in France, like Clermont Ferrand, that is home to Michelin tire company. Culinary fans will also delight with a range of local cheeses, regional recipes, and 30 Michelin Starr restaurants.

2: Bretagne – Brittany

Everyone has heard of Brittany, but delve under the surface, and you will be surprised with the hidden secrets, it throws up. As a coastal destination, it attracts beach lovers, but other delights include small, quaint towns and villages, stunning landscape scenery, and a wide range of adventure activities.

Brittany is also home to several islands, where various bird species thrive. What other delights does it hold? Plenty including Saint-Malo Aquarium, Pont Scorff Zoo, Broceliande forest and legends of Merlin, Fougeres castle, Mont Saint Michel Abbey and many old churches and cathedrals. Given its coastal position, seafood is a local delight and must try when visiting.

3: Bourgogne – Franche Comte

Sitting in Eastern France and sharing a border with Switzerland, Franche Comte is another delight of Mother Nature with large open spaces, and a variety of year-round destinations. Landmarks of natural beauty include Poudrey Chasm, Loue hot Springs, Herisson waterfalls, and Saut du Doubs, and three historical sites sit on the UNESCO World Heritage list. One speciality where Franche Comte delivers is culinary delights include cured sausages and meats, strong flavour hard cheeses, and adhering to French stereotypes, it is one of the best wine regions.

Franche Comte

4: Corsica Region

Welcome to a unique way of life in Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, that boast of extraordinary beaches, golfing hotspots, water sports bonanzas, nature reserves and hundreds of walking trails. For the best photographs, head to Bonifacio cliffs, Gorges Restonica and Monte Stello. Although other sites include Ajaccio Fech museum, Bonaparte house national museum and Saint-Jean Baptiste church in Bastia. Need we mention that a must-try is the regional cuisine that stands in a league of its own. These include cold meats, soups, seafood, goats’ cheese, and famous Corsican honey. If sailing is one of your passions in life, you will do well to look at Corsica.

5: Centre – Val de Loire

This is a great region if you are looking for urban landscapes because it contains the cities of Tours, Orleans, Bourges, Blois, Chateauroux, Chartres, Joue Les Tours, Dreux, Vierzon, and Olivet. We are also talking about the magnificent Loire Valley, that was a favourite hunting ground of French kings throughout the ages, and an architectural showpiece of Chateaux’s. Vineyards also demand fame for their white French wine production, which includes Valencay, Sancerre, and Pouilly Fume. This region has excellent transport links to the centre of Paris if you want a two-night getaway.

Val de Loire

6: Grand Est

Sitting in north-eastern France, this region formed in 2016 encompasses Alsace, Champagne, and Ardennes, the Seine, Rhine, and Meuse Rivers, two mountain ranges and Strasbourg city. This collectively makes it France’s 5th largest region. Sharing borders with Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium, the diversity of culture staggers all who visit her. Tourism plays an enormous part in the chief trade of locals, as does the arts scene, gastronomy, and agriculture.

7: Hauts de France

In Northern France, this region merged Nord-pas-de-Calais and Picardy, to make its capital Lille. People will recognise the names of some of its major communities, including Dunkirk, Calais, Beauvais, Amiens, and Roubaix. Connecting to the United Kingdom via the Channel Tunnel, many Brits have passed through or visited for a weekend break. Aside from the normal view of England, other tourist attractions include the Belfries, first World War sites, Cassel old town, Le and Quesnoy fortress.

8: Paris and Ile de France

Ah, the most famous region of them all, and capital of France; grand Paris, the centre of fashion, gastronomy, arts, culture, and entertainment. Famous tourist attractions include the Notre Dame, Eiffel tower, Moulin Rouge and Arc De Triumph. We are sure; we need not sell Paris to you. Its reputation and esteemed status as one of the world’s top tourism hotspots speak for itself. However, as food lovers, there are over 65 Michelin Starr restaurants in the city, so get ready for the culinary journey of a lifetime.

regions of France

9: Nouvelle Aquitaine

Formed from the districts of Aquitaine, Limousin, and Poitou Charentes, Nouvelle Aquitaine. This region is larger than Austria and France’s biggest, so visitors have a wealth of delights to look forward. An ideal trip would be Bordeaux, although surfing is also gigantic business. UNESCO Heritage World Sites are in abundance as are award-winning vineyards. Anyone looking at ideal beach holiday destinations would do well to choose the region, and, the excellence and local production of classy restaurants satisfy all taste buds.

10: Normandy

Associated with 1944 and D-day beaches, Normandy does an excellent job of honouring the past while focusing on the future. Seaside coastal resorts include Honfleur, and Cabourg, while the Cotentin peninsula is where you will find all the traditional fishing villages. Head inland to discover stunning landscape scenery and enjoy walking trails but a must is the regional delicacy of scallops, cider and Camembert cheese.

Normandy

11: Occitanie

Formed from the earlier districts of Languedoc Roussillon and Midi Pyrenees, Occitanie is the southernmost district, and second-largest region covering over 72,000 square kilometres. Major communities include Montpellier, Nimes, Perpignan, Beziers, Albi, and Montauban, although the most famous is the capital, Toulouse. Called the pink city, it has two UNESCO World Heritage sites and much unique architecture.

12: Pays de la Loire

This area of France in the lower Loire Valley holds the famous Nantes district as its capital. Covering the area to the south of Brittany, it comprises five areas including coastal Loire Atlantique, Vendee, and inland Maine et Loire, Sarthe, and Mayenne. Nantes is France’s sixth-largest city and perfect for some urban influences, while the historic district of Vendee is also worth visiting. The last communities are where to head to if you want to experience rural France.

13: Provence Alps Cote d’Azur

Last on our list of regions of France, is Provence, the most popular tourist district and for excellent reasons. Sitting in the south of France on the Mediterranean shores, Saint Tropez is its most famous district. But and top-notch sailing befitting the life of a millionaire, popular ski spots include La Meije, La Grave, Chevalier, and Orciers. Avignon is the place to head to for history while Marseille holds the famous Notre Dame de la Garde. Cuisine plays an enormous part in Provence, but one reason for its popularity is the valuing of old traditions blended with new influences.

Provence

Nice to Know: Haute Savoie Ski Region

The first region on our list also includes the Rhone-Alps, which host some world’s best ski resorts. Excellent examples include Chamonix which has been a world-class ski resort since the early 1900s. Sitting on the junction between France, Italy, and Switzerland, around 5 million tourists visit it every year. Belonging to the Haute Savoie region, other world-class ski resorts include Flaine, Avoriaz, Portes de Soleil, La Clusaz, Les Gets, Morzine, and Samoens. Find out more about skiing in France, on our sister website here.

Also Read

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Regions of Spain: As part of a series, concentrating on all the countries we operate in, this informative piece breaks down the 17 regions of Spain to present an informative viewpoint what makes each one unique.

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