Departments of France
Départements (French)
  • Also known as:
  • Departamant gall (Breton)
    Dèpartament francês (Arpitan)
    Departament francés (Occitan)
    Frantziako departamendu (Basque)
    Departament francès (Catalan)
Found inRegions
Number101 (not including Metropolis of Lyon) (as of January 2021)
Possible types
PopulationsLargest: Nord, Hauts-de-France—2,613,000 (2022 census)
Smallest: Lozère, Occitanie—83,000 (2022 census)
AreasLargest: French Guiana—83,533.9 km2 (32,252.6 sq mi)
Smallest: Paris, Île-de-France—105.4 km2 (40.7 sq mi)
DensitiesLargest: Paris, Île-de-France—20,755/km2 (53,760/sq mi)
Smallest: French Guiana—3.5/km2 (9.1/sq mi)

In the administrative divisions of France, the department (French: département, pronounced [depaʁtəmɑ̃] ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivities"), between the administrative regions and the communes. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, with an additional five constituting overseas departments, which are also classified as overseas regions. Departments are further subdivided into 333 arrondissements and 2,054 cantons (as of 2023).[1] These last two levels of government have no political autonomy, instead serving as the administrative basis for the local organisation of police, fire departments as well as, in certain cases, elections.

Each department is administered by an elected body called a departmental council (sg. conseil départemental, pl. conseils départementaux). From 1800 to April 2015, these were called general councils (sg. conseil général, pl. conseils généraux).[2] Each council has a president. Their main areas of responsibility include the management of a number of social and welfare allowances, of junior high school (collège) buildings and technical staff, and local roads and school and rural buses, and a contribution to municipal infrastructures.[3] Local services of the state administration are traditionally organised at departmental level, where the prefect represents the government; however, regions have gained importance since the 2000s, with some department-level services merged into region-level services.

The departments were created in 1790 as a rational replacement of Ancien Régime provinces with a view to strengthen national unity;[4] the title "department" is used to mean a part of a larger whole.[5] Almost all of them were named after physical geographical features (rivers, mountains, or coasts), rather than after historical or cultural territories, which could have their own loyalties, or after their own administrative seats. The division of France into departments was a project particularly identified with the French revolutionary leader the Abbé Sieyès,[6][7] although it had already been frequently discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers. The earliest known suggestion of it is from 1665 in the writings of d'Argenson.[8] They have inspired similar divisions in many countries, some of them former French colonies. The 1822 territorial division of Spain (reverted due to the 1823 French intervention ending the trienio liberal) and the 1833 territorial division of Spain, which forms the basis of the present day Provinces of Spain with minor modifications, are also based on the French model of departments of roughly equal size.[9]

Most French departments are assigned a two-digit number, the Official Geographical Code, allocated by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insée).[10] Overseas departments have a three-digit number. The number is used, for example, in the postal code and was until recently used for all vehicle registration plates. Residents commonly use the numbers to refer to their own department or a neighbouring one, for example inhabitants of Loiret may refer to their department as "the 45". More distant departments are generally referred to by their names, as few people know the numbers of all the departments.

In 2014, President François Hollande proposed abolishing departmental councils by 2020, which would have maintained the departments as administrative divisions, and transferring their powers to other levels of governance.[11] This reform project has since been scrapped.


Main article: Territorial evolution of France

Geometrical proposition rejected
French provinces before 1790 (color) and today's departments (black borders)

The first French territorial departments were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson to serve as administrative areas purely for the Ponts et Chaussées (Bridges and Highways) infrastructure administration.[12]

Before the French Revolution, France gained territory gradually through the annexation of a mosaic of independent entities. By the end of the Ancien Régime it was organised into provinces. During the Revolution they were dissolved, partly in order to weaken old loyalties. The National Constituent Assembly decided to create a more uniform division into departments (département) and districts in late 1789.[13] The process began on 4 August 1789 with the elimination of provincial privileges, and a 22 December 1789 decree (with letters patent in January 1790) provided for the termination of the provincial governments.[13]

The modern department system, as all-purpose units of the government, was decreed on 26 February 1790 (with letters patent on 4 March 1790) by the National Constituent Assembly.[13] Their boundaries served two purposes:

Departments at the maximum extent of the First French Empire (1812)

The old nomenclature was carefully avoided in naming the new departments. Most were named after an area's principal river or other physical features. Even Paris was in the department of Seine. Savoy, during its temporary occupation, became the department of Mont-Blanc.[14] The provinces continued to exist administratively until 21 September 1791.[13]

The number of departments, initially 83, had been increased to 130 by 1809 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of the First French Empire.[15] Following the defeats of Napoleon in 1814–1815 the Congress of Vienna returned France to its pre-war size and the number of departments was reduced to 86 (three of the original departments having been split). In 1860 France acquired the County of Nice and Savoy, which led to the creation of three new departments.[16] Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of Alpes-Maritimes was created from Nice and a portion of the Var department.[16] The 89 departments were given numbers based on the alphabetical order of their names.[17]

The department of Bas-Rhin and parts of Meurthe, Moselle, Vosges and Haut-Rhin were ceded to the German Empire in 1871 following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. A small part of Haut-Rhin, however, remained French and became known as the Territoire de Belfort; the remaining parts of Meurthe and Moselle were merged into a new Meurthe-et-Moselle department. When France regained the ceded departments after World War I, the Territoire de Belfort was not reintegrated into Haut-Rhin. In 1922 it became France's 90th department. Likewise the Lorraine departments were not changed back to their original boundaries, and a new Moselle department was created in the regained territory, with slightly different boundaries from the pre-war department of the same name.

The reorganisation of Île-de-France in 1968 and the division of Corsica in 1975 added six more departments, raising the total in Metropolitan France to 96. By 2011, when the overseas collectivity of Mayotte became a department, joining the earlier overseas departments of the Republic (all created in 1946) – French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion – the total number of departments in the French Republic had become 101. In 2015 the Urban Community of Lyon was split from Rhône to form the Métropole de Lyon, a sui generis entity, with the powers of both an intercommunality and those of a department on its territory, formally classified as a "territorial collectivity with particular status" (French: collectivité territoriale à statut particulier) and as such not belonging to any department. As of 2019 Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse are still administrative departments, although they no longer have the status of departmental "territorial collectivities": region and department functions have been managed by a "single territorial collectivity" since 2018.

Despite the intention to avoid the old nomenclature, often the names of pre-1790 provinces remained in use. For example, the name of Berry, though no longer having an official status, remains in widespread use in daily life.

General characteristics

Main article: Administrative divisions of France

See also: List of French departments by population

Government and administration

Administrative divisions of France

The departmental seat of government is known as the prefecture (préfecture) or chef-lieu de département and is generally a town of some importance roughly at the geographical centre of the department. This was determined according to the time taken to travel on horseback from the periphery of the department. The goal was for the prefecture to be accessible on horseback from any town in the department within 24 hours. The prefecture is not necessarily the largest city in the department: for instance, in Saône-et-Loire department the capital is Mâcon, but the largest city is Chalon-sur-Saône. Departments may be divided into arrondissements. The capital of an arrondissement is called a subprefecture (sous-préfecture) or chef-lieu d'arrondissement.

Each department is administered by a departmental council (conseil départemental), an assembly elected for six years by universal suffrage, with the President of the Departmental Council as executive of the department. Before 1982, the chief executive of the department was the prefect (préfet), who represents the Government of France in each department and is appointed by the President of the French Republic. The prefect is assisted by one or more sub-prefects (sous-préfet) based in the subprefectures of the department. Since 1982, the prefect retains only the powers that are not delegated to the department councils. In practice, their role has been largely limited to preventing local policy from conflicting with national policy.

The departments are further divided into communes, governed by municipal councils. As of 2013, there were 36,681 communes in France. In the overseas territories, some communes play a role at departmental level. Paris, the country's capital city, is a commune as well as a department.

Population density in the departments (2007). The broken lines mark the approximate boundaries of the empty diagonal. The solid line is the Le Havre-Marseille line, to the east of which lives 60% of the French population.

In continental France (metropolitan France, excluding Corsica), the median land area of a department is 5,965 km2 (2,303 sq mi), which is two-and-a-half times the median land area of the ceremonial counties of England and the preserved counties of Wales and slightly more than three-and-half times the median land area of a county of the United States. At the 2001 census, the median population of a department in continental France was 511,000 inhabitants, which is 21 times the median population of a United States county, but less than two-thirds of the median population of a ceremonial county of England and Wales. Most of the departments have an area of between 4,000 and 8,000 km2 (1500 to 3000 sq. mi.), and a population between 320,000 and 1 million. The largest in area is Gironde (10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi).), while the smallest is the city of Paris (105 km2 (41 sq mi).). The most populous is Nord (2,550,000) and the least populous is Lozère (74,000).


The departments are numbered: their two-digit numbers appear in postal codes, in INSEE codes (including "social security numbers") and on vehicle number plates. Initially the numbers corresponded to the alphabetical order of the names of the departments, but several changed their names and some have been divided, so the correspondence became less exact. Alphanumeric codes 2A and 2B were used for Corsica while it was split but it has since reverted to 20. The two-digit code "98" is used by Monaco. Together with the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code FR, the numbers form the ISO 3166-2 country subdivision codes for the metropolitan departments. The overseas departments have three digits.[citation needed]

Relation to national government

Originally, the relationship between the departments and the central government was left somewhat ambiguous. While citizens in each department elected their own officials, the local governments were subordinated to the central government, becoming instruments of national integration. By 1793, however, the revolutionary government had turned the departments into transmission belts for policies enacted in Paris. With few exceptions, the departments had this role until the early 1960s.

Political party preferences

These maps cannot be used as a useful resource of voter preferences, because Departmental Councils are elected on a two-round system, which drastically limits the chances of fringe parties, if they are not supported on one of the two rounds by a moderate party. After the 1992 election, the left had a majority in only 21 of the 100 departments; after the 2011 election, the left dominated 61 of the 100 departments. (Mayotte only became a department after the election.)

Key to the parties:


The removal of one or more levels of local government has been discussed for some years; in particular, the option of removing the departmental level. Frédéric Lefebvre, spokesman for the UMP, said in December 2008 that the fusion of the departments with the regions was a matter to be dealt with soon. This was soon refuted by Édouard Balladur and Gérard Longuet, members of the committee for the reform of local authorities, known as the Balladur Committee.[18]

In January 2008, the Attali Commission recommended that the departmental level of government should be eliminated within ten years.[19]

Nevertheless, the Balladur Committee has not retained this proposition and does not advocate the disappearance of the departments, but simply "favors the voluntary grouping of departments", which it suggests also for the regions, with the aim of reducing the number of regions to 15.[20] This committee advocates, on the contrary, the suppression of the cantons.[20]

Maps and tables

Current departments

Each department has a coat of arms and a flag with which it is commonly associated, though not all are officially recognised or used.

INSEE code Arms 1 Date of establishment Department Capital Region Named after
01 Coat of arms of department 01 26 February 1790 Ain Bourg-en-Bresse  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Ain (river)
02 Coat of arms of department 02 26 February 1790 Aisne Laon  Hauts-de-France Aisne (river)
03 Coat of arms of department 03 26 February 1790 Allier Moulins  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Allier (river)
04 Coat of arms of department 04 26 February 1790 Alpes-de-Haute-Provence 2 Digne-les-Bains  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Alps mountains and Provence region
05 Coat of arms of department 05 26 February 1790 Hautes-Alpes Gap  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Alps mountains
06 Coat of arms of department 06 26 February 1790 Alpes-Maritimes Nice  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Alps mountains
07 Coat of arms of department 07 26 February 1790 Ardèche Privas  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Ardèche (river)
08 Coat of arms of department 08 26 February 1790 Ardennes Charleville-Mézières  Grand Est Ardennes Forest
09 Coat of arms of department 09 26 February 1790 Ariège Foix  Occitanie Ariège (river)
10 Coat of arms of department 10 26 February 1790 Aube Troyes  Grand Est Aube (river)
11 Coat of arms of department 11 26 February 1790 Aude Carcassonne  Occitanie Aude (river)
12 Coat of arms of department 12 26 February 1790 Aveyron Rodez  Occitanie Aveyron (river)
13 Coat of arms of department 13 26 February 1790 Bouches-du-Rhône Marseille  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Rhône (river)
14 Coat of arms of department 14 26 February 1790 Calvados Caen  Normandy Latin calva dorsa ("bare backs"), referring to two offshore rocks
15 Coat of arms of department 15 26 February 1790 Cantal Aurillac  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Mounts of Cantal
16 Coat of arms of department 16 26 February 1790 Charente Angoulême  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Charente (river)
17 Coat of arms of department 17 26 February 1790 Charente-Maritime 3 La Rochelle  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Charente (river)
18 Coat of arms of department 18 26 February 1790 Cher Bourges  Centre-Val de Loire Cher (river)
19 Coat of arms of department 19 26 February 1790 Corrèze Tulle  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Corrèze (river)
2A Coat of arms of Corsica 1 January 1979 Corse-du-Sud 19 Ajaccio  Corsica Island of Corsica and South cardinal direction
2B Coat of arms of Corsica 1 January 1979 Haute-Corse 19 Bastia  Corsica Island of Corsica
21 Coat of arms of department 21 26 February 1790 Côte-d'Or Dijon  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Autumn color of Burgundy vineyards ("Golden Slope").
22 Coat of arms of department 22 26 February 1790 Côtes-d'Armor 4 Saint-Brieuc Brittany Brittany coasts of Armorica
23 Coat of arms of department 23 26 February 1790 Creuse Guéret  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Creuse (river)
24 Coat of arms of department 24 26 February 1790 Dordogne Périgueux  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Dordogne (river)
25 Coat of arms of department 25 26 February 1790 Doubs Besançon  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Doubs (river)
26 Coat of arms of department 26 26 February 1790 Drôme Valence  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Drôme (river)
27 Coat of arms of department 27 26 February 1790 Eure Évreux  Normandy Eure (river)
28 Coat of arms of department 28 26 February 1790 Eure-et-Loir Chartres  Centre-Val de Loire Eure and Loir rivers
29 Coat of arms of department 29 26 February 1790 Finistère Quimper Brittany Brittany Latin Finis Terrae ("end of earth")
30 Coat of arms of department 30 26 February 1790 Gard Nîmes  Occitanie Occitan name for Gardon river
31 Coat of arms of department 31 26 February 1790 Haute-Garonne Toulouse  Occitanie Garonne (river)
32 Coat of arms of department 32 26 February 1790 Gers Auch  Occitanie Gers (river)
33 Coat of arms of department 33 26 February 1790 Gironde 5 Bordeaux  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Gironde estuary
34 Coat of arms of department 34 26 February 1790 Hérault Montpellier  Occitanie Hérault (river)
35 Coat of arms of department 35 26 February 1790 Ille-et-Vilaine Rennes Brittany Brittany Ille and Vilaine rivers
36 Coat of arms of department 36 26 February 1790 Indre Châteauroux  Centre-Val de Loire Indre (river)
37 Coat of arms of department 37 26 February 1790 Indre-et-Loire Tours  Centre-Val de Loire Indre and Loire rivers
38 Coat of arms of department 38 26 February 1790 Isère Grenoble  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Isère (river)
39 Coat of arms of department 39 26 February 1790 Jura Lons-le-Saunier  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Jura Mountains
40 Coat of arms of department 40 26 February 1790 Landes Mont-de-Marsan  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Heathlands (lande) that dominated the region at the time
41 Coat of arms of department 41 26 February 1790 Loir-et-Cher Blois  Centre-Val de Loire Loir and Cher rivers
42 Coat of arms of department 42 12 August 1793 Loire Saint-Étienne  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Loire (river)
43 Coat of arms of department 43 26 February 1790 Haute-Loire Le Puy-en-Velay  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Loire (river)
44 Coat of arms of department 44 26 February 1790 Loire-Atlantique 6 Nantes  Pays de la Loire Loire (river) and Atlantic Ocean
45 Coat of arms of department 45 26 February 1790 Loiret Orléans  Centre-Val de Loire Loiret (river)
46 Coat of arms of department 46 26 February 1790 Lot Cahors  Occitanie Lot (river)
47 Coat of arms of department 47 26 February 1790 Lot-et-Garonne Agen  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Lot and Garonne rivers
48 Coat of arms of department 48 26 February 1790 Lozère Mende  Occitanie Mont Lozère
49 Coat of arms of department 49 26 February 1790 Maine-et-Loire 7 Angers  Pays de la Loire Maine and Loire rivers
50 Coat of arms of department 50 26 February 1790 Manche Saint-Lô  Normandy English Channel
51 Coat of arms of department 51 26 February 1790 Marne Châlons-en-Champagne  Grand Est Marne (river)
52 Coat of arms of department 52 26 February 1790 Haute-Marne Chaumont  Grand Est Marne (river)
53 Coat of arms of department 53 26 February 1790 Mayenne Laval  Pays de la Loire Mayenne (river)
54 Coat of arms of department 54 7 September 1871 Meurthe-et-Moselle Nancy  Grand Est Meurthe and Moselle rivers
55 Coat of arms of department 55 26 February 1790 Meuse Bar-le-Duc  Grand Est Meuse (river)
56 Coat of arms of department 56 26 February 1790 Morbihan Vannes Brittany Brittany Gulf of Morbihan
57 Coat of arms of department 57 26 February 1790 Moselle Metz  Grand Est Moselle (river)
58 Coat of arms of department 58 26 February 1790 Nièvre Nevers  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Nièvre (river)
59 Coat of arms of department 59 26 February 1790 Nord Lille  Hauts-de-France North cardinal direction
60 Coat of arms of department 60 26 February 1790 Oise Beauvais  Hauts-de-France Oise (river)
61 Coat of arms of department 61 26 February 1790 Orne Alençon  Normandy Orne (river)
62 Coat of arms of department 62 26 February 1790 Pas-de-Calais Arras  Hauts-de-France Strait of Dover
63 Coat of arms of department 63 26 February 1790 Puy-de-Dôme Clermont-Ferrand  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Puy de Dôme volcano
64 Coat of arms of department 64 26 February 1790 Pyrénées-Atlantiques 8 Pau  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Pyrenees mountains and Atlantic Ocean
65 Coat of arms of department 65 26 February 1790 Hautes-Pyrénées Tarbes  Occitanie Pyrenees mountains
66 Coat of arms of department 66 26 February 1790 Pyrénées-Orientales Perpignan  Occitanie Pyrenees mountains and East cardinal direction
67 Coat of arms of department 67 26 February 1790 Bas-Rhin Strasbourg  Grand Est Rhine (river)
68 Coat of arms of department 68 26 February 1790 Haut-Rhin Colmar  Grand Est Rhine (river)
69D Coat of arms of department 69 12 August 1793 Rhône Lyon (provisional)  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Rhône (river)
69M Coat of arms of Lyon 1 January 2015 Lyon Metropolis 18 Lyon  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes commune of Lyon
70 Coat of arms of department 70 26 February 1790 Haute-Saône Vesoul  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Saône (river)
71 Coat of arms of department 71 26 February 1790 Saône-et-Loire Mâcon  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Saône and Loire rivers
72 Coat of arms of department 72 26 February 1790 Sarthe Le Mans  Pays de la Loire Sarthe (river)
73 Coat of arms of department 73 15 June 1860 Savoie Chambéry  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Savoy
74 Coat of arms of department 74 15 June 1860 Haute-Savoie Annecy  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Savoy
75 Coat of arms of department 75 1 January 1968 Paris 9 Paris  Île-de-France commune of Paris
76 Coat of arms of department 76 26 February 1790 Seine-Maritime 10 Rouen  Normandy Seine (river)
77 Coat of arms of department 77 26 February 1790 Seine-et-Marne Melun  Île-de-France Seine and Marne rivers
78 Coat of arms of department 78 1 January 1968 Yvelines 11 Versailles  Île-de-France Forest of Yvelines
79 Coat of arms of department 79 26 February 1790 Deux-Sèvres Niort  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Sèvre Nantaise and Sèvre Niortaise rivers
80 Coat of arms of department 80 26 February 1790 Somme Amiens  Hauts-de-France Somme (river)
81 Coat of arms of department 81 26 February 1790 Tarn Albi  Occitanie Tarn (river)
82 Coat of arms of department 82 4 November 1808 Tarn-et-Garonne Montauban  Occitanie Tarn and Garonne rivers
83 Coat of arms of department 83 26 February 1790 Var Toulon  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Var (river)
84 Coat of arms of department 84 25 June 1793 Vaucluse Avignon  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Fontaine de Vaucluse spring
85 Coat of arms of department 85 26 February 1790 Vendée La Roche-sur-Yon  Pays de la Loire Vendée (river)
86 Coat of arms of department 86 26 February 1790 Vienne Poitiers  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Vienne (river)
87 Coat of arms of department 87 26 February 1790 Haute-Vienne Limoges  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Vienne (river)
88 Coat of arms of department 88 26 February 1790 Vosges Épinal  Grand Est Vosges Mountains
89 Coat of arms of department 89 26 February 1790 Yonne Auxerre  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Yonne (river)
90 Coat of arms of department 90 11 March 1922 Territoire de Belfort Belfort  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté commune of Belfort
91 Coat of arms of department 91 1 January 1968 Essonne 12 Évry  Île-de-France Essonne (river)
92 Coat of arms of department 92 1 January 1968 Hauts-de-Seine 13 Nanterre  Île-de-France Seine (river)
93 Coat of arms of department 93 1 January 1968 Seine-Saint-Denis 14 Bobigny  Île-de-France Seine (river) and commune of Saint-Denis
94 Coat of arms of department 94 1 January 1968 Val-de-Marne Créteil  Île-de-France Marne (river)
95 Coat of arms of department 95 1 January 1968 Val-d'Oise Pontoise 15  Île-de-France Oise (river)
971 Coat of arms of Guadeloupe 19 March 1946 Guadeloupe 16 Basse-Terre  Guadeloupe Island of Guadeloupe
972 Coat of arms of Martinique 19 March 1946 Martinique 16 Fort-de-France  Martinique Island of Martinique
973 Coat of arms of Guyane 19 March 1946 Guyane 16 Cayenne  French Guiana The Guianas
974 Coat of arms of Réunion 19 March 1946 La Réunion 16 Saint-Denis  Réunion Island of Réunion
976 Coat of arms of Mayotte 9 August 2009
31 March 2011[21]
Mayotte 17 Mamoudzou  Mayotte Island of Mayotte
  • ^1 Most of the coats of arms are unofficial
  • ^2 Alpes-de-Haute-Provence was known as Basses-Alpes ('Lower Alps') until 1970
  • ^3 Charente-Maritime was known as Charente-Inférieure ('Lower Charente') until 1941
  • ^4 Côtes-d'Armor was known as Côtes-du-Nord ('Coasts of the North') until 1990
  • ^5 Gironde was known as Bec-d'Ambès ('Beak of Ambès') from 1793 until 1795. The Convention eliminated the name to avoid recalling the outlawed Girondin political faction.
  • ^6 Loire-Atlantique was known as Loire-Inférieure ('Lower Loire') until 1957
  • ^7 Maine-et-Loire was known as Mayenne-et-Loire (Mayenne and Loire rivers) until 1791
  • ^8 Pyrénées-Atlantiques was known as Basses-Pyrénées ('Lower Pyrenees') until 1969
  • ^9 Number 75 was formerly assigned to Seine
  • ^10 Seine-Maritime was known as Seine-Inférieure ('Lower Seine') until 1955
  • ^11 Number 78 was formerly assigned to Seine-et-Oise
  • ^12 Number 91 was formerly assigned to Alger, in French Algeria
  • ^13 Number 92 was formerly assigned to Oran, in French Algeria
  • ^14 Number 93 was formerly assigned to Constantine, in French Algeria
  • ^15 The prefecture of Val-d'Oise was established in Pontoise when the department was created, but moved de facto to the neighbouring commune of Cergy; currently, both part of the ville nouvelle of Cergy-Pontoise
  • ^16 The overseas departments each constitute a region and enjoy a status identical to metropolitan France. They are part of France and the European Union, though special EU rules apply to them.
  • ^17 Mayotte became the 101st department of France on 31 March 2011. The INSEE code of Mayotte is 976 (975 is already assigned to the French overseas collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon)
  • ^18 Metropoles with territorial collectivity statute.
  • ^19 Corsica was divided into two departments (Golo and Liamone) from 1793 to 1811, and again into two departments (Corse-du-Sud, number 2A, and Haute-Corse, number 2B) in 1975. As of 2019, Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse are still administrative departments, although they no longer have the status of departmental "territorial collectivities": region and department functions have been managed by a "single territorial collectivity" since 2018.
Regions and departments of metropolitan France; the numbers are those of the first column (except for Corsica, which shows the division of the island until 2018, and the division of the Metropolis of Lyon from Rhône is not shown).
The departments in the immediate vicinity of Paris; the numbers are those of the first column.

Former departments

Former departments of the current territory of France

No. Department Prefecture Dates in existence Named after Subsequent history
Rhône-et-Loire Lyon 1790–1793 Rhône and Loire rivers Divided into Rhône and Loire.
Corsica Bastia 1790–1793 Island of Corsica Divided into Golo and Liamone.
Golo Bastia 1793–1811 Golo (river) Reunited with Liamone into Corsica.
Liamone Ajaccio 1793–1811 Liamone (river) Reunited with Golo into Corsica.
Mont-Blanc Chambéry 1792–1815 Mont Blanc mountain Formed from part of the Duchy of Savoy, a territory of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia which was restored to its former status after Napoleon's defeat. The territory returned to French rule in 1860 and it corresponds approximately to the present departments Savoie and Haute-Savoie.
Léman Geneva 1798–1814 Lake Geneva Formed when the Republic of Geneva was annexed into the First French Empire and added to territory taken from several other departments. Corresponds to the present Swiss canton and parts of the current departments Ain and Haute-Savoie.
Meurthe Nancy 1790–1871 Meurthe (river) Ceased to exist following the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by the German Empire in 1871 and was not recreated after the province was restored to France by the Treaty of Versailles.
75 Seine Paris 1790–1967 Seine (river) Divided into four new departments on 1 January 1968: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne (the last also incorporating a small amount of territory from Seine-et-Oise).
78 Seine-et-Oise Versailles 1790–1967 Seine and Oise rivers Divided into four new departments on 1 January 1968: Yvelines, Val-d'Oise, Essonne, Val-de-Marne (the last largely comprising territory from Seine).
20 Corsica Ajaccio 1811–1975 Island of Corsica Divided into Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse.
975 Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint-Pierre 1976–1985 Islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon Converted to an overseas collectivity.

Departments of Algeria (Départements d'Algérie)

The three Algerian departments in 1848
Departments of French Algeria from 1957 to 1962

Unlike the rest of the French possessions in Africa, Algeria was divided into overseas departments from 1848 until its independence in 1962. These departments were supposed to be "assimilated" or "integrated" to France sometime in the future.

Before 1957
No. Department Prefecture Dates of existence
91 Alger Algiers 1848–1957
92 Oran Oran 1848–1957
93 Constantine Constantine 1848–1957
Bône Annaba 1955–1957
No. Department Prefecture Dates of existence
8A Oasis Ouargla 1957–1962
8B Saoura Béchar 1957–1962
9A Alger Algiers 1957–1962
9B Batna Batna 1957–1962
9C Bône Annaba 1955–1962
9D Constantine Constantine 1957–1962
9E Médéa Médéa 1957–1962
9F Mostaganem Mostaganem 1957–1962
9G Oran Oran 1957–1962
9H Orléansville Chlef 1957–1962
9J Sétif Sétif 1957–1962
9K Tiaret Tiaret 1957–1962
9L Tizi Ouzou Tizi Ouzou 1957–1962
9M Tlemcen Tlemcen 1957–1962
9N Aumale Sour El-Ghozlane 1958–1959
9P Bougie Béjaïa 1958–1962
9R Saïda Saïda 1958–1962

Departments in former French colonies

Department Named after Current location Dates in existence
Département du Sud [fr] South cardinal direction Haiti 1795–1800
Département d'Inganne [fr] Dominican Republic, Haiti 1795–1800
Département du Nord [fr] North cardinal direction Haiti 1795–1800
Département de l'Ouest [fr] West cardinal direction Haiti 1795–1800
Département de Samana [fr] Samaná Bay Dominican Republic 1795–1800
Saint Lucia Island of St Lucia Saint Lucia, Tobago 1795–1800
Île de France Island of Mauritius Mauritius, Seychelles 1795–1800
Indes-Orientales India and East cardinal direction India:
Pondicherry Union Territory (Pondichéry, Karikal, Yanaon, Mahé)
West Bengal (Chandernagore)

Departments of the Napoleonic Empire in Europe

There are a number of former departments in territories conquered by France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Empire that are now not part of France:

Department Prefecture
(French name
if different)
Named after Current location1 Contemporary location2 Dates in existence
Mont-Terrible Porrentruy Mont Terri mountain Switzerland
France (Doubs)
Holy Roman Empire:
Prince-Bishopric of Basel3
County of Montbéliard
Dyle Brussels
Dyle (river) Belgium Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Brabant
County of Hainaut
Escaut Ghent
Scheldt river Belgium
Austrian Netherlands:
County of Flanders

Dutch Republic:

Flanders of the States
Forêts Luxembourg Ardennes forest Luxembourg
Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Luxembourg
Jemmape Mons Battle of Jemappes Belgium Austrian Netherlands:
County of Hainaut
Lordship of Tournai
County of Namur

Holy Roman Empire:

Prince-Bishopric of Liège
Lys Bruges Lys (river) Austrian Netherlands:
County of Flanders
Meuse-Inférieure Maastricht
Meuse river Belgium
Austrian Netherlands:
Austrian Upper Guelders
Duchy of Limburg

Dutch Republic:

Dutch Upper Guelders
Overmaas of the States

Holy Roman Empire:

Prince-Bishopric of Liège:
County of Horne
County of Loon
Thorn Abbey
Deux-Nèthes Antwerp
Two branches of the Nete (river) Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Brabant

Dutch Republic:

Brabant of the States (after 1810)
Ourthe Liège Ourthe river Belgium
Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Brabant
Duchy of Limburg
Duchy of Luxembourg
County of Namur

Holy Roman Empire:

Prince-Bishopric of Liège
Imperial Abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy
Sambre-et-Meuse Namur Sambre and Meuse rivers Belgium Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Brabant
Duchy of Luxembourg

Holy Roman Empire:

Prince-Bishopric of Liège
Corcyre Corfu
Island of Corfu
(archaic French form)
Greece Republic of Venice4 1797–1799
Ithaque Argostoli Island of Ithaca 1797–1798
Mer-Égée Zakynthos
Aegean Sea 1797–1798
Mont-Tonnerre Mainz
Donnersberg mountain Germany Holy Roman Empire:
Archbishopric of Mainz

Electorate of the Palatinate

Bishopric of Speyer
Rhin-et-Moselle Koblenz
Rhine and Moselle rivers Holy Roman Empire:
Archbishopric of Cologne

Electorate of the Palatinate

Archbishopric of Trier
Roer Aachen
Roer river Germany
Holy Roman Empire:
Free Imperial City of Aachen
Archbishopric of Cologne
Electorate of the Palatinate:
Grand Duchy of Berg
Duchy of Jülich

Kingdom of Prussia:

Prussian Guelders

Imperial Free City of Wesel (after 1805)

Sarre Trier
Saar (river) Belgium
Holy Roman Empire:
Electorate of the Palatinate:
County of Veldenz
Duchy of Zweibrücken
Archbishopric of Trier
Doire Ivrea
Dora Baltea river Italy Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia:
Duchy of Savoy
Marengo Alessandria
Battle of Marengo 1802–1814
Turin Po (river) 1802–1814
Sésia Vercelli
Sesia river 1802–1814
Stura Cuneo
Stura di Demonte river 1802–1814
Tanaro6 Asti Tanaro (river) 1802–1805
Apennins Chiavari Apennine mountains Republic of Genoa7 1805–1814
Gênes Genoa
City of Genoa 1805–1814
Montenotte Savona
Battle of Montenotte 1805–1814
Arno Florence Arno (river) Grand Duchy of Tuscany8 1808–1814
Méditerranée Livorno
Mediterranean Sea 1808–1814
Ombrone Siena
Ombrone river 1808–1814
Taro Parma
Taro (river) Holy Roman Empire:
Duchy of Parma & Piacenza
Rome9 Rome City of Rome Papal States 1809–1814
Trasimène Spoleto
Lake Trasimeno 1809–1814
Bouches-du-Rhin 's-Hertogenbosch
Rhine river Netherlands Dutch Republic:10
Batavian Brabant (Brabant of the States)
Dutch Guelders
Bouches-de-l'Escaut Middelburg
Scheldt river Dutch Republic:10
County of Zeeland
Simplon Sion Simplon Pass Switzerland République des Sept-Dizains11 1810–1814
Bouches-de-la-Meuse The Hague
La Haye
Meuse river Netherlands Dutch Republic:10
County of Holland
Bouches-de-l'Yssel Zwolle IJssel river Dutch Republic:10
Ems-Occidental Groningen
Ems (river) Netherlands
Dutch Republic:10
Dutch Upper Guelders
Ems-Oriental Aurich Ems (river) Germany Holy Roman Empire:
Kingdom of Prussia:
County of East Frisia10
Frise Leeuwarden
Friesland region Netherlands Dutch Republic:10
Yssel-Supérieur Arnhem IJssel river Dutch Republic:10
Dutch Upper Guelders
Zuyderzée Amsterdam Zuiderzee inlet Dutch Republic:10
County of Holland
Lordship of Utrecht
Bouches-de-l'Elbe Hamburg
Elbe river Germany Holy Roman Empire:
Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Electorate of Hanover
Free Hanseatic City of Lübeck
Bouches-du-Weser Bremen
Weser river Holy Roman Empire:
Free Hanseatic City of Bremen
Electorate of Hanover
Duchy of Oldenburg
Ems-Supérieur Osnabrück Ems (river) Holy Roman Empire:
Electorate of Hanover
Bishopric of Osnabrück
Kingdom of Prussia:
Town and County of Lingen
Principality of Minden
County of Ravensberg
Lippe12 Münster
Lippe (river) Holy Roman Empire:
Bishopric of Münster
Electorate of the Palatinate:
Grand Duchy of Berg
Bouches-de-l'Èbre Lleida
Ebro river Spain Kingdom of Spain:
Montserrat Barcelona
Montserrat (mountain) 1812–1813
Sègre Puigcerdà
Segre (river) 1812–1813
Ter Girona
Ter (river) 1812–1813
Bouches-de-l'Èbre-Montserrat Barcelona
Ebro river and Montserrat mountain Previously the departments of Bouches-de-l'Èbre and Montserrat 1813–1814
Sègre-Ter Girona
Segre and Ter rivers Previously the departments of Sègre and Ter 1813–1814

Notes for Table 7:

  1. Where a Napoleonic department was composed of parts from more than one country, the nation-state containing the prefecture is listed. Please expand this table to list all countries containing significant parts of the department.
  2. Territories that were a part of Austrian Netherlands were also a part of Holy Roman Empire.
  3. The Bishopric of Basel was a German Prince-Bishopric, not to be confused with the adjacent Swiss Canton of Basel.
  4. The Ionian Islands were annexed by France after the Fall of the Republic of Venice. They were lost to France, becoming the Septinsular Republic, a Russo-Ottoman vassal state, from 1800 to 1807, before reverting to France at the Treaty of Tilsit. The second period of French rule lasted until 1810/14, after which these territories became a British protectorate, as the United States of the Ionian Islands
  5. Maastricht was a condominium of the Dutch Republic and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.
  6. On 6 June 1805, as a result of the annexation of the Ligurian Republic (the puppet successor state to the Republic of Genoa), Tanaro was abolished and its territory divided between the departments of Marengo, Montenotte and Stura.
  7. Before becoming the department of Apennins, the Republic of Genoa was converted to a puppet successor state, the Ligurian Republic.
  8. Before becoming the department of Arno, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was converted to a puppet successor state, the Kingdom of Etruria.
  9. Rome was known as the department du Tibre until 1810.
  10. Before becoming the departments of Bouches-du-Rhin, Bouches-de-l'Escaut, Bouches-de-la-Meuse, Bouches-de-l'Yssel, Ems-Occidental, Frise, Yssel-Supérieur and Zuyderzée, these territories of the Dutch Republic were converted to a puppet successor state, the Batavian Republic (1795–1806), then those territories that had not already been annexed (all except the first two departments here), along with the Prussian County of East Frisia, were converted to another puppet state, the Kingdom of Holland.
  11. Before becoming the department of Simplon, the République des Sept Dizains was converted to a revolutionary République du Valais (16 March 1798) which was swiftly incorporated (1 May 1798) into the puppet Helvetic Republic until 1802 when it became the independent Rhodanic Republic.
  12. In the months before Lippe was formed, the arrondissements of Rees and Münster were part of Yssel-Supérieur, the arrondissement of Steinfurt was part of Bouches-de-l'Yssel and the arrondissement of Neuenhaus was part of Ems-Occidental.

See also


  1. ^ "Code officiel géographique au 1er janvier 2021 | Insee". Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  2. ^ Ministère de l'intérieur, Les élections départementales : comprendre ce qui change (in French), archived from the original on 10 August 2016, retrieved 30 July 2015
  3. ^ "Quelles sont les compétences des départements ?". Vie (in French). Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  4. ^ 83 départements sont créés en France (in French), retrieved 5 November 2021
  5. ^ Rey, Alain (25 October 2011). Dictionnaire Historique de la langue française (in French). NATHAN. ISBN 978-2-321-00013-6.
  6. ^ "Sous le Sénat de l'Empire - Personnalités - Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès - Sénat". Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  7. ^ "Création du département" (in French). Archives départementales du Puy-de-Dôme. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  8. ^ "Carte de France à la révolution: création des départements". Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  9. ^ Turchetti, Mario (2005). La Suisse de la Médiation dans l'Europe napoléonienne (1803-1814): actes du colloque de Fribourg (journée du 10 octobre 2003) (in French). Saint-Paul. p. 46. ISBN 978-2-8271-0983-8.
  10. ^ "🔎 Code INSEE : définition et explications". (in French). Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  11. ^ "François Hollande fixe les régions à 14 et la fin des départements à 2020". La Gazette des Communes (in French). Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  12. ^ Masson, Jean-Louis (1984). Provinces, départements, régions: L'organisation administrative de la France d'hier à demain. Éditions Fernand Lanore. ISBN 9782851570031. Retrieved 15 July 2017. ((cite book)): |website= ignored (help)
  13. ^ a b c d Legay, Marie-Laure (2003). "La fin du pouvoir provincial (4 août 1789-21 septembre 1791)". Annales historiques de la Révolution française (332): 25–53. doi:10.4000/ahrf.821. ISSN 0003-4436.
  14. ^ "Le nom des départements". Le Monde. 11 December 1999.
  15. ^ See Provinces of the Netherlands for the annexed Dutch departments.
  16. ^ a b "24 mars 1860 - La France reçoit Nice et la Savoie -". Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  17. ^ "Départements 1867". Archived from the original on 5 November 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  18. ^ "La fusion département-région n'est pas à l'ordre du jour". L'Express. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  19. ^ Report of the Attali Commission[permanent dead link] "Decision 260", p. 197 (in French)
  20. ^ a b "Les 20 propositions du Comité (20 propositions of the Committee)" (in French). Committee for the reform of local authorities. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
  21. ^ "Mayotte - Histoire". Ministère des Outre-mer. 25 November 2016. Archived from the original on 20 October 2021. Retrieved 20 October 2021.