Well, look at that! A map of France. Let’s break it down.
Usually when people talk about France, they’re talking about the picture you see above. This is known as Metropolitan France; Corsica is considered a territorial collectivity, and there are four overseas regions: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion and French Guiana.
The 21 regions of mainland Metropolitan France are as follows, with their Anglicized names where applicable and their regional capitals (which will no doubt be more familiar to you). And I’ve added some fun facts to further orient you to your new favorite vacation destination!
Nord-Pas de Calais – Lille
Lille is a massive hub between France and Northern Europe; there are a few consulates in Lille and the Eurostar from London goes there, too.
Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy) – Caen
This is the Normandy of World War II, and the spectacular Mont St.-Michel.
- Great Overnight Trip From Paris: Port-en-Bessin
- How to Get from Paris to the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach
- 3 Omaha Beach Itineraries
- Photos: American WWII Cemetery & Memorial at Omaha Beach
- Visiting Mont St.-Michel
- Getting from Paris to Mont St.-Michel
- Mont Saint Michel: An iconic site in photos
Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) – Rouen
The Seine starts here! And it’s where you arrive on the ferry from the UK.
Picardie (Picardy) – Amiens
Not well known by the thronging masses of tourists. Which is a shame, because it’s really beautiful.
Île-de-France – Paris
Paris. I mean, what else is there?
Champagne-Ardenne – Châlons-en-Champagne
We’ve all tried this region’s famous beverage.
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Lorraine – Metz
Now you know where quiche lorraine comes from!
Alsace – Strasbourg
Lots of German influence, lots of delicious white wine.
Bretagne (Brittany) – Rennes
If you see a French name that begins with “Qu,” it’s from this region. The general adjective for things/people/language in Brittany is Breton.
- Brittany Overview
- How to Get From Paris to Quimper
- Visiting Belle-île: Brittany’s Largest Island
- Visiting Quiberon
- What to Eat in Brittany
Pays-de-la-Loire – Nantes
This is a tricky one. The region is Pays-de-la-Loire, or towns of the Loire (river). The Loire Valley, that of the châteaux, stretches from this region into Centre. And Loire – just plain old Loire – is a “département” or county in the Rhône-Alpes region.
- Loire Valley Overview
- Fall in France: Beautiful foliage and great wines in the Loire Valley
- Castles of the Loire Valley
- Getting from Paris to the Loire Valley
- How to Get From Paris to Amboise
Centre – Orléans
Home to the famous cathedrals of Chartres and Tours, and the heart of the Loire Valley.
Bourgogne (Burgundy) – Dijon
Mustard and wine -two great tastes that go great together.
- Burgundy Overview
- French Regional Wine Guide
- Understanding French Wine Categories
- Dijon International Gastronomy Fair
- Beaujolais Nouveau Festival
Franche-Comté – Besançon
Very Swiss in nature, and home of the delectable Comté cheese.
Poitou-Charentes – Poitiers
Cognac comes from the eponymous town in this region.
Limousin – Limoges
If you’ve ever registered for your wedding, you’ve heard of Limoges porcelain. This area makes over half of all the porcelain in France.
Auvergne – Clermont-Ferrand
Want to get away from it all? Auvergne, the least populated region of France by far, is the place to do it.
Rhône-Alpes – Lyon
Right next to Auvergne, but hugely populated, with the major cities of Lyon, Grenoble and Saint-Étienne. It’s also one of the richest areas in the entire EU.
- Lyon Overview
- Cheap flights to Lyon
- Budget airlines that fly to Lyon
- Getting from Milan to Lyon
- Hostels in Lyon
- Hotels in Lyon
- Things to do in Lyon
- Cooking classes in France
Aquitaine – Bordeaux
What an awesome region – rolling hills, vineyards and a long, gorgeous coastline that borders Spain and which is home to Europe’s hottest surfing scene.
- Getting from Paris to Bordeaux
- Four Side Trips From Paris: A No-Nonsense Guide
- Visiting Saint-Jean-de-Luz: A Beachside Basque Gem
Midi-Pyrénées – Toulouse
This region was formed solely to house Toulouse, and the French debate the merits of this region all the time. However, the millions of pilgrims that come to Lourdes, also in the Midi-Pyrénées, could care less.
- How to Get to Lourdes, France
- Budget Airlines that Fly to Toulouse
- Corbières: Wine, Cheese and Medieval Fortresses
Languedoc-Roussillon – Montpellier
This region shares the other half of the southern French coast with the Côte d’Azur.
- Languedoc Overview
- Montpellier Overview
- Nude Beaches in France
- Best Beaches on the French Mediterranean
- Visiting Carcassonne: France’s famous Medieval Walled City
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – Marseille
Yep, it’s all one fantastic region, with Monaco nestled in there on the eastern end.
- Provence Overview
- Top 10 Things to do in Provence
- Fall in Provence
- Markets at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
- How to Get From Paris to Avignon
- The Best Roman Ruins And Sites in France
- Self-Guided Provence Wine Tour Itinerary
- Eight Enchanting Villages in Provence
- French Riviera Overview
- Cannes Overview
- Hotels near La Croisette in Cannes
- Monaco Overview
- Getting from Nice to Monaco [Monte Carlo]
- Nice Overview
- How to get to Nice
- How to get from Paris to Nice
- How to get from London to the South of France
- How to get from Barcelona to Nice
- Cheap flights to Nice
- Budget airlines that fly to Nice
- The French Riviera
- Day Trips from Nice
- Things to Do in Nice
- Carnaval in Nice
- 3 Days in Nice: Itinerary Ideas
Makes a little more sense now, doesn’t it? If you’re ready to find out more, check out this helpful information about France: