We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How is France Divided Administratively?

By Aniza Pourtauborde
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At CulturalWorld.org, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

France is situated in the northwest of Europe and is one of the member countries of the European Union. Its political system is made up of several layers of administrative divisions, which include regions, departments, arrondisements, cantons and communes. These divisions encompass not only France, but also other countries that were previously colonized by the French government, and are currently considered as being under the French territory. For administrative purposes, these countries are called "overseas regions" while France in Europe is called the "Metropolitan."

The French territory is first divided into 26 regions, 22 in Metropolitan and four overseas. Regions are governed by a regional council of elected members and have neither legislative nor regulatory power. However, they do impose their own taxes, leading them to have considerable budgets to manage the country’s decentralized services. Regions are further subdivided into 100 departments, 96 in Metropolitan and four overseas. The four overseas regions and departments are one and the same: French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and the Reunion.

French departments are administered by a general council of elected members and are represented by two-digit numbers, which are designated to each department following the alphabetical order. These numbers appear in INSEE (Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Démographiques) codes, social security numbers and French postal codes. They are also currently used as the final digits at the end of French vehicle registration numbers.

Departments are comprised of 341 arrondisements, or districts, which are run by officials elected by the president. Unlike regions and departments though, arrondisements are not legal entities in the eyes of the law. Arrondisements are then subdivided into 4,032 cantons that serve as constituencies during the elections for the general council of each department.

Cantons are actually made up of 36,781 communes, which is the lowest administrative division of France. Most of these communes, 36,569 of them, belong to France Metropolitan while the remaining 212 belong to overseas regions. There is no exact definition of a French commune. Paris, a city with more than 2 million inhabitants, is considered a commune. Similarly, Rochefourchat is a one-person commune situated in the region of Rhône-Alpes. A mayor and its municipal council run a commune. Despite the disparity in the sizes of French communes, the powers of those who govern them remain the same. Having said that, there are three communes – Paris, Marseille and Lyon – which are further subdivided into 45 municipal arrondisements, each with its own arrondisement mayor and council.

The administrative divisions in French overseas regions are the same as in France Metropolitan. The four overseas regions/departments are divided into 12 arrondisements, which are further subdivided into 153 cantons. These 153 cantons are made up of 212 communes. Overseas regions are governed in the same manner as in Metropolitan, and with the same authority accorded to those elected to power.

Over the years, the regional and departmental face of France has altered very little. The lower administrative divisions, however, have merged and separated often over the course of time. For instance, smaller French communes may merge to form an additional canton to facilitate administrative and political purposes, to regroup resources and share common public services. Due to these volatile changes, the French administration is reputed to be one of the most complicated in Europe.

CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

CulturalWorld.org, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

CulturalWorld.org, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.