Exploring the Regions of France _ All You Need to Know

Last Updated on 16/05/2024 by secretmoona

Looking to know more about the regions of France?

France is a country that is widely known for its cultural diversity, delicious cuisine, and vast geographical landscapes. The country is divided into 18 regions, each offering a unique experience based on its culture, geography, and landscape. France has a lot to offer, and every region has its own charm that makes it a fascinating country to explore. If you plan to visit France for your next vacation, it’s important to know which regions of France to visit based on the landmarks, natural sites, beaches, and villages you would like to experience.

Since January 1, 2016, France has undergone administrative changes, which have resulted in eighteen regions—thirteen in mainland France (including Corsica) and five overseas (Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Réunion, and Mayotte). This is a decrease from the previous 22 regions. Some regions, such as Bretagne and Pays-de-la-Loire, stayed the same, while others merged, such as Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine, and Alsace, forming the new Grand Est region.

Infographics about the Regions of France

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List of the Regions of France

Here is the list of regions in France.

  • Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
  • Bourgogne-Franche-Comte
  • Brittany
  • Centre-Val-de Loire
  • Corsica
  • Grand Est
  • Hauts-de-France
  • Ile-de-France
  • Normandy
  • Nouvelle-Aquitaine
  • Occitanie
  • Pays-de-la-Loire
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur

Map of France by regions

Map the Regions of France
Regions of France Map

Regions of France? Where Should You Go Next?

France is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Although Paris is a stunning city, numerous other places attract visitors. From Provence to Brittany and Alsace, France is abundant in surprises. The country boasts many interesting places, and the variety of landscapes implies that you can visit France every year and still experience something new. France has it all if you want to explore big cities, countryside, small medieval towns and villages, coastlines with sunny beaches, or mountains with snow-capped peaks. So, let’s go and discover the French regions and their unique characteristics.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Map of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes - Regions of France
Tourist Map of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is a beautiful region that offers a mix of stunning natural beauty and cultural treasures. It has everything from the majestic Alps and peaceful volcanoes of Auvergne to charming medieval villages, dynamic towns, and exceptional monuments. There’s an endless palette of discoveries to be made here.

The region is divided into 13 departments: Ain (01), Allier (03), Ardèche (07), Cantal (15), Drôme (26), Isère (38), Loire (42), Haute-Loire (43), Puy-de-Dôme (63), Rhône (69D), Métropole de Lyon (69M), Savoie (73), and Haute-Savoie (74). This French region has a total area of 69,711 km2 and has a population of around 8 million people.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is a paradise for lovers of mountainous landscapes and hikes. During winter, you can enjoy winter sports in the French Alps, while the summer months are ideal for exploring the picturesque villages of Ardèche and the turquoise-blue Gorges.

The region is also home to a rich architectural heritage, with castles, Romanesque churches, and picturesque villages that are perfect for history buffs and those attracted to ancestral traditions. Vast preserved natural spaces, such as the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Natural Park, the Mont-Blanc massif, and Lake Annecy, offer opportunities for outdoor exploration.

City of Annecy - Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes - Regions of France
The charming town of Annecy

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: Where Next?

Cities like Annecy, Chambéry, Saint-Étienne, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Puy-en-Velay, Montluçon, Villeurbanne, Valence, Moulins, and Vénissieux offer a diverse range of cultural and historical attractions. The region is also renowned for its cheeses from Auvergne and Savoie, raclettes, fondues, tartiflettes, and Côtes du Rhône wines.

If you’re visiting the region, some of the must-see attractions include Lake Annecy in Haute-Savoie and Lyon, a city full of places of interest, monuments, parks, and gardens. Lyon is also known for its delicious cuisine and rich architectural heritage.

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

Map of Bourgogne-Franche-Comte - Regions of France
Tourist Map ofBourgogne-Franche-Comte region

The Burgundy-Franche-Comté area is a popular destination for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers as it offers a vast expanse of castles, lakes, and vineyards. Tourists can explore the exceptional landscapes of Burgundy by wandering between the Jura, the Doubs, and the Côte d’Or. With three major mountain ranges (Jura, Vosges, and Morvan), as well as numerous monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, there is no shortage of things to do in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region.

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is divided into eight departments: Côte-d’Or (21), Doubs (25), Jura (39), Nièvre (58), Haute-Saône (70), Saône-et-Loire (71), Yonne (89), and Territoire de Belfort (90). It covers a total area of 47,784 km2 and has nearly 3 million inhabitants.

Tourists can visit historical places such as the citadel of Besançon, the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, and the fortified city of Beaune in the Côte d’Or. Gourmets can also stop at Dijon and Châlons-sur-Saône to taste some of the region’s specialities. Besides the numerous wines made from famous grape varieties, visitors can also try the famous beef bourguignon, cheeses such as Epoisses, and traditional charcuterie.

View of Dijon's roof - Bourgogne-Franche-Comte - Regions of France
Dijon

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté: Where Next?

If you’re wondering what to see in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region, here are some recommendations:

The Burgundy Wine Route

This route includes a stop in 37 villages and two legendary cities: Dijon and Beaune. Travellers can discover the Burgundy wine tradition and taste legendary red, white, and rosé wines. They can also stop at Gevrey-Chambertin, the village with 9 grands crus and 26 premier crus, and Vosne-Romanée, a village whose wine plots are the most popular in the world. Finally, they can visit the wine house for a delicious “by the glass” tasting. The Grands Crus route represents 60 kilometres of cobbled villages, Romanesque and Gothic churches, wine growers’ residences, and old cellars, all accessible from Dijon to Santenay.

Dijon

Dijon is a must-visit city in Burgundy, not only for its 13th-century Gothic cathedral but also for its science and biodiversity garden. This botanical garden comprises a museum, a rose garden, an arboretum, and a botany school. Tourists can take the Owl route, which gives access to all the must-see attractions in Dijon, such as the antique dealers’ district, the Dukes’ palace, and the Museum of Fine Arts. In just one hour, visitors can tour the Burgundian capital and discover many of its riches.

Bretagne (Brittany)

Map of Brittany - Regions of France
Map of Brittany region of France

I love Brittany, a region in France famous for its rich traditions and Celtic legends. The region is divided into four departments: Cotes-d’Armor (22), Finistere (29), Ille-et-Vilaine (35), and Morbihan (56). It has a total area of 27,208 km2 and a population of approximately 3 million people.

Brittany offers a diverse range of landscapes, from medieval towns to beaches, cliffs, gulfs, bays, and marshes. It is also known for its rich historical heritage, monuments, Celtic traditions, folklore, captivating music, and authentic cuisine.

The Breton coast is unique, with famous sites such as the Emerald Coast with the corsair city of Saint-Malo, the mysterious Pink Granite Coast, and the seven Breton islands, including the Île de Groix, the Bréhat Island, the Glénan Archipelago, Ouessant Island, and Belle-Île-en-Mer.

Brittany has a lot to offer in terms of gastronomy, with cider, crepes, seafood, and traditional pastries that will awaken your taste buds.

Hiking in theGulf of Morbihan in Brittany region of France

Brittany: Where Next?

Some of the significant cities in Brittany include St Malo, Dinan, Vannes, Lorient, Rennes, Quiberon, Brest, Quimper, Dinard, Saint-Nazaire, and Saint-Brieuc.

If you’re planning to visit Brittany, here are some places you should consider checking out:

Saint-Malo

St Malo is a medieval town surrounded by high granite walls. It has narrow and lively streets, beaches, and a port offering panoramic sea views. You can walk to the fort and the islands Petit Bé and Grand Bé at low tide.

Dinan

Dinan is another medieval town with half-timbered houses, old stones of the ramparts, a castle, and winding cobbled streets. The town is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities of Art and History in Brittany.

Gulf f Morbihan

The Gulf of Morbihan is considered the Cote d’Azur of the north, with numerous islands to explore, such as Île aux Moines, Île d’Arz, Belle-Île-en-Mer, and the Isles of Houat and Hoëdic. The gulf has between 30 and 60 islands, all with magnificent beaches. Start by discovering the port of Crouesty on the Rhuys peninsula and the Navalo port.

Centre-Val-de Loire

Map of Centre-Val-de-Loire- Regions of France
Map ofCentre-Val-de-Loire Region

The Centre-Val-de-Loire region lies on the banks of the Loire, France’s longest river. This region is famous for its castles and offers a range of activities, such as wine tasting, strolling through historic towns, walking in nature, or cycling along the river.

Centre-Val-de-Loire is divided into six departments: Cher (18), Eure-et-Loir (28), Indre (36), Indre-et-Loire (37), Loir-et-Cher (41), and Loiret (45). It covers a total area of 39,151 km2 and has about 3 million inhabitants.

The Loire Valley is home to hundreds of castles, such as Chenonceau, Chambord, and Chaumont, which bear witness to the history of France. This is one of the reasons why this region of France is so popular with tourists.

Centre-Val-de-Loire is a region that can be explored town by town. In addition to the castle towns, the cities of Chartres, Orleans, and Blois have fascinating histories and historical centres. For a more intimate experience, many small villages with old-world charm await, where you can taste local wines, explore ponds and marshes, and stroll along the endless cycle paths.

Chateau-De-Chambord-Palace-in-Loire-Valley-France
Chateau de Chambord in-Loire-Valley. By @romanbabakin

Centre-Val-de Loire: Where Next?

If you are planning a visit to the Centre-Val-de-Loire region, here are three places you should not miss:

The Château de Chambord

Located at the heart of Europe’s largest enclosed forest park, the Château de Chambord is the largest of the Loire castles. Built in the 16th century, it is the only royal estate that has remained intact since its creation. Near this large castle, you can explore the banks of the Loire on foot or by bike and visit other small castles.

Chartres

Chartres is famous for its immense Cathedral, one of France’s best-preserved Gothic cathedrals. However, Chartres has many other attractions that charm its visitors, such as museums, greenways, cycle paths, parks, and taverns along the Eure river.

Corsica

Map of Corse - Regions of France
Tourist Map of Corsica island

Corsica is a stunning island that boasts a diverse range of breathtaking landscapes. It’s a true natural paradise with steep cliffs, fragrant maquis, and coves with turquoise waters. From mountains to canyons, forests to heavenly beaches, Corsica is the perfect destination for both adventure and relaxation.

The island is divided into two departments: Corse-du-Sud (2A) and Haute-Corse (2B). It covers a total area of 8,680 km2 and has a population of around 350,000 inhabitants.

Green door and window with pink facade in Corsica region - France
Corsica by @Kzara-Visual

Visitors can enjoy beautiful beaches such as Plage de Calvi, coves with crystal-clear waters bordered by cliffs, and extraordinary rocky landscapes on the seaside. The seabed is also a popular spot for divers worldwide. Inland, visitors can explore high mountain landscapes, high-altitude lakes, and isolated hamlets by taking hiking trails through the maquis.

Grand Est

Map of Grand Est - Regions of France
Tourist Map of Grand Est region

The Grand Est region is a cultural and culinary hub formed by the combination of Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, and Lorraine. The region has strong Germanic influences and is home to cities such as Strasbourg, which is regarded as the capital of Europe. The area boasts half-timbered houses, magical Christmas markets, Champagne, sauerkraut, and pretzels.

The Grand Est region encompasses ten departments: Ardennes (08), Aube (10), Marne (51), Haute-Marne (52), Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Meuse (55), Moselle (57), Bas-Rhin (67), Haut-Rhin (68), and Vosges (88). The region covers a total area of 57,433 km2 and has a population of about 5 million inhabitants.

The Grand Est region is a popular destination at the end of the year, as visitors and locals flock to the streets to admire and explore the Christmas markets. Strasbourg Christmas market is one of the most popular markets in Europe and for a good reason. The Grand Place lights up, creating a magical feeling.

Apart from its charming and picturesque towns, the Grand Est is a great destination for hikers and nature lovers. The region has several natural parks, such as the Ardennes, Ballons des Vosges, Montagne de Reims, Lorraine, and the Northern Vosges, where visitors can explore and be closer to nature.

City of Colmar - Grand Est region of France
Colmar’s Little Venice

Grand Est: Where Next?

The main cities in the Grand Est region include Metz, Mulhouse, Nancy, Reims, Strasbourg, Troyes, Gérardmer, and Colmar. These are some of the top attractions to visit in the Grand Est region:

Colmar

Little Venice is located in the historical centre of Colmar, a beautifully preserved medieval district organized into canals. The area is enriched with picturesque half-timbered houses dating back to the 15th century, which add to its charm. Visitors can wander around the cobbled streets and take a canal boat tour to explore the town from a unique perspective. If you’re looking for a similar neighbourhood, you can visit Petite France in Strasbourg.

The Champagne Route

The Champagne Tourist Route is a 50-kilometre route that takes visitors from Epernay to Sezanne. with a stop via Reims. It allows them to taste the best champagnes by visiting certified cellars and discovering the region’s wine heritage. Along the way, you will come across many Champagne villages, castles, and churches. The winegrowers will warmly welcome you and provide you with many explanations about their products.

The Vosges Massif

The Vosges offer a delightful variety of landscapes and sites, including numerous panoramas that extend, depending on visibility, to the German Black Forest and the Alps to the south, remarkable rocks, lakes, meadows, and specific to the massif, humid and deep forests. Must-see places include Lac Blanc, Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg, Château du Frankenbourg, Lake Gérardmer, and the Ballons des Vosges natural park.

 

Hauts-de-France

Tourist Map of Hauts-de-France- Regions of France
Tourist Map of Hauts-de-France

The Hauts-de-France region is situated in northern France and is renowned for its numerous cathedrals, belfries, and citadels. The region has a rich history, with evidence left by its mining past and World War 1. You can indulge in the best fries and beer in France at the Dunkirk carnivals and Lille flea market. With over 200 km of coastline spanning from the Bay of Somme to the Opal Coast, the region boasts a breathtaking landscape.

Hauts-de-France is divided into five departments—Aisne (02), Nord (59), Oise (60), Pas-de-Calais (62), and Somme (80)—and covers a total area of 31,813 km2. Its population is almost 6 million.

This region of France also offers nature parks, such as the Oise-Pays de France Regional Natural Park, and three long-distance hiking trails (GR) and kilometres of greenways for hiking and cycling enthusiasts. The coastline features steep cliffs, including Caps Gris and Blanc-Nez, which overlook England. Le Touquet, a former Parisian retreat, is one of the region’s most popular destinations.

City centre of Lille - Hauts de France region
Lille

Hauts-de-France: Where Next?

Lille

When it comes to cities, Lille is the capital and a vibrant city with beautiful northern architecture. Don’t miss the Grand Place, the Vieux Lille, and the Lille Old Stock Exchange, now home to book fares. A visit during the September flea market will show you how diverse, open, and bustling the city is.

Amiens

Amiens is another must-visit city with beautiful attractions, including the largest Cathedral in France, the magnificent Amiens Cathedral, and the picturesque Saint Leu district. The Hortillonnages, with 60 km of canals, is also a must-see for nature lovers.

Other significant regional cities include Arras, Beauvais, Le Touquet, Compiègne, Douai, Dunkirk, and Calais.

Ile-de-France

Tourist Map of Ile-de-France- Regions of France
Tourist Map of Ile-de-France region

Ile-de-France is the cultural and political centre of France. Paris, also known as the City of Lights, is the world’s leading destination, filled with numerous landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Sacre Coeur, and the Moulin Rouge. These attractions draw in travellers worldwide, making Paris one of the most visited cities globally. However, Ile-de-France is not limited to Paris, and there are many other unique places to explore.

Ile-de-France consists of eight departments: Paris (75), Seine-et-Marne (77), Yvelines (78), Essonne (91), Hauts-de-Seine (92), Seine-Saint-Denis (93), Val-de-Marne (94), and Val-d’Oise (95). It has a total area of 12,011 km2 and a population of around 12 million people.

The surrounding suburbs of the capital city are diverse, ranging from bourgeois to popular, and offer a mix of urban landscapes and rural areas with castles and vast green spaces.

Pantin in Seine-St-Denis - Ile-de-France region
Pantin, Seine-St-Denis

Ile-de-France: Where Next?

In addition to Paris, the Île-de-France region also includes popular attractions such as the Château de Versailles, Disneyland Paris, and the Château de Fontainebleau, as well as other lesser-known sites like the Stade de France and Basilica of Saint-Denis, which offer an insight into French history and culture. Despite being the smallest region in France, the Île-de-France region boasts four natural parks.

Saint-Ouen flea markets

Les Puces in Saint-Ouen is the largest antique market in the world. Whether you’re a bargain hunter or not, visiting this market is one of the top things to do in Ile-de-France. It comprises 14 different markets, and while wandering through the thousands of stalls, you’ll find anything from furniture, bronze, lighting, tableware, jewellery, toys, books, and period clothes. If you’re looking for trendier clothes, then visit Le Plateau and Malik markets.

Versailles

It’s difficult to talk about the emblematic monuments of the Paris region without referring to the official residence of the Kings of France. This mythical castle amazes with the beauty of its gardens, the grandeur of its rooms and galleries, its grandiose architecture, and its royal decoration. It’s a must-visit for history buffs. If the entire Palace of Versailles is splendid, the flagship piece is the Hall of Mirrors, adorned with more than 350 mirrors.

Normandie (Normandy)

Map of Normandy - Regions of France
Tourist Map of Normandy region

Normandy is a popular region in France, known for its beautiful attractions such as Mont-Saint-Michel, the landing beaches, and the cliffs of Étretat. This region is a blend of the sea and the land, making it an ideal place to enjoy nature and learn about history. It is also a favourite spot for Parisians to spend a relaxing weekend. The region is hard to resist with its scenic groves, delicious gastronomy, and rich historical heritage. The picturesque houses, ports, and paths along the cliffs add to the region’s holiday atmosphere.

Normandy is divided into five departments: Calvados (14), Eure (27), Manche (50), Orne (61), and Seine-Maritime (76). The region is spread over 29,906 km² and has a population of around 3 million people.

Cliffs of Etretat - Normandy region of France
Cliffs of Etretat

Normandy: Where Next?

Some of the significant towns and cities in Normandy that you must visit are Caen, Dieppe, Le Havre, Bayeux, Evreux, and Cherbourg.

If you’re wondering what to do in Normandy, here are two must-visit places:

Honfleur

Located in Calvados, Honfleur is a legendary port town that still retains its charming village atmosphere. The colourful city is famous worldwide, and you shouldn’t miss strolling around the port and exploring the quaint little streets. Make sure to visit the Sainte Catherine church, France’s largest wooden church.

Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is the top tourist destination in Normandy and the third most visited after the Eiffel Tower and the Château de Versailles. This medieval village, topped with an abbey, stands on a granite rock in the middle of the sea, resembling a life-size sandcastle. The island is surrounded by a beautiful bay and has plenty of surprises to offer visitors.

Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Map of Nouvelle-Aquitaine- Regions of France
Tourist Map of Nouvelle Aquitaine region

Nouvelle-Aquitaine is an amazing region that has over 250 kilometres of beaches, historic cities, castles, and vineyards. You can enjoy various activities such as surfing in Biarritz, taking a boat trip in the Poitevin marshes, or going on an oenological trip in Bordeaux vineyards. 

Nouvelle-Aquitaine is divided into 12 departments: Charente (16), Charente-Maritime (17), Corrèze (19), Creuse (23), Dordogne (24), Gironde (33), Landes (40), Lot-et-Garonne (47), Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64), Deux-Sèvres (79), Vienne (86), and Haute-Vienne (87). It has a total area of 83,809 km2 and approximately 6 million inhabitants.

The Nouvelle-Aquitaine region is a vast and diverse area in France that encompasses Aquitaine, Poitou Charentes, and Limousin. It boasts a mild and sunny climate, renowned vineyards, long beaches, and numerous historic sites, making it an ideal destination for travellers seeking relaxation and adventure. Whether you want to unwind in the lagoon of the Arcachon basin and its Pilat dune, take a tour of the vineyards of Médoc, go skiing in the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees, or visit the prehistoric sites of Périgord Black, there are many opportunities to explore the region.

Nouvelle Aquitaine: Where Next?

Empty street in Bordeaux - Nouvelle Aquitaine region
Street in Bordeaux

Arcachon Bassin

One of the must-see places in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region is the Arcachon Basin in Gironde. From Cap-Ferret to the Dune du Pilat, which is the highest sand dune in Europe, the basin attracts visitors from all over the world. The region has a microclimate that appeals to thalassotherapy enthusiasts, and it is known as a year-round destination of the “Four Seasons.” The area offers many excursion possibilities, including sea kayaking, sailing, cycling, and tree climbing, among others.

Bordeaux

Another attraction in the region is the beautiful and vibrant city of Bordeaux, which has France’s most UNESCO World Heritage sites. Apart from exploring the city’s cultural and architectural sites, you can visit one of the most famous vineyards in the world or spend a day at the beach. Bordeaux is a perfect destination for anyone looking to enjoy the best of French culture, history, and natural beauty.

Occitanie

Map of Occitanie - Regions of France
Tourist Map of Occitanie Region

Occitanie is a stunning region located in the south of France. It is bordered by the Mediterranean, the Pyrenees, and the Dordogne Valley. The region has a rich cultural heritage and many beautiful seaside resorts. From the pink-bricked city of Toulouse to the Cathar castles and the warm atmosphere of Catalan Perpignan, Occitanie has a lot to offer, including UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Occitanie is divided into 13 departments, including Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Hérault, Lot, Lozère, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Tarn, and Tarn-et-Garonne. The region covers a total area of 72,724 km2 and has a population of nearly 6 million.

The Occitanie region was formed in 2016 by merging the former Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions, making it the largest of French regions. It is the country of the Langue d’Oc, a southern dialect that has retained the greatest influence of the Romance language. With the Mediterranean Sea, the Pyrenees mountains, the canyons, the hilltop villages, and the gastronomy, it is difficult to make a selection among all the activities in the region.

Occitanie is a land of history and great nature, with great year-round weather. It is the sunniest region of France and the best place to experience a southern relaxed attitude!

Boat on Canal du Midi in Béziers  - Occitanie region
Boat on Canal du Midi in Béziers

Occitanie: Where Next?

Important cities in Occitanie include Albi, Béziers, Montpellier, Narbonne, and Nîmes.

Carcassonne

The fortified medieval city of Carcassonne is a must-visit in Occitania. Its 3 kilometres of ramparts and 52 towers are visible for kilometres around. The city is also the most famous example of the work carried out by Viollet-Le-Duc in the 19th century to rehabilitate medieval buildings. You can admire the Saint-Nazaire basilica and the count’s castle, stroll on the lists, or simply wander through the old town.

Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi is a romantic stroll and a must-see attraction in Occitanie. It is an ancient royal canal dug to connect the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. You can explore it by boat, on foot, or even by bike. Let yourself be lulled by its peaceful course under the plane trees and admire the landscapes.

Pays-de-la-Loire

Map of Pays-de-la-Loire - Regions of France
Tourist Map of Pays-de-la-Loire region

The Pays de la Loire region is a vast and diverse area that offers a wide range of attractions and activities. From historic monuments and vineyards to long sandy beaches, islands, and endless dunes, this region is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to enjoy a breath of fresh ocean air. The cultural hub of Nantes is renowned for its dynamism, and the region boasts many other major cities, including Angers, La Baule, Le Mans, Le Puy-du-Fou, Pornic, and Saumur.

Pays-de-la-Loire is divided into five departments: Loire-Atlantique (44), Maine-et-Loire (49), Mayenne (53), Sarthe (72), and Vendée (85). It covers a total area of 32,082 km² and has nearly 4 million inhabitants.

The Pays de la Loire is famous for its culinary specialities, with pork being a beloved ingredient. Le Mans is famous for its rillettes and white puddings, while Anjou offers andouillettes. The Vendée transforms pork into andouille sausages and liver pâtés with cognac. Cheese lovers must try the Nantes priest, port-salut, crémet d’Anjou, and goat cheeses. And, of course, a glass of Anjou or Saumur wine is a must.

Nantes - Dukes of Brittany castle - Pays-de-la-Loire
Nantes – Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

Pays-de-la-Loire: Where Next?

Nantes

To begin your exploration, consider visiting Nantes, a city that’s full of surprises, including the famous castle of the Dukes of Brittany. The city has plenty of other attractions as well, from incredible gardens to island machines and works of art scattered throughout the city. Nantes is also heavily influenced by the world of Jules Verne. Alternatively, you could head to Les Sables d’Olonne in Vendée for a relaxing holiday on the Atlantic coast. This seaside destination boasts endless beaches and is in the spotlight every year for the famous Vendée Globe.

Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur

Map of Provence-Alpes-Cote-dAzur - Regions of France
Tourist Map of Provence-Alpes-Cote-dAzur – Regions

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region is a unique and diverse destination in France, encompassing everything from the beaches of the French Riviera to the Mercantour massifs. It is renowned for its Provençal lavender fields, marinas, and coves. Marseille is a bustling city with a unique accent, and it’s an excellent starting point before heading towards Estérel and Italy. 

The region is divided into six departments: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04), Hautes-Alpes (05), Alpes-Maritimes (06), Bouches-du-Rhône (13), Var (83), and Vaucluse (84). It spans an area of 31,400 km2 and is home to around 5 million people.

The PACA region is well-known for its varied landscapes, ranging from the sea to the mountains, via the countryside and the city. With fragrant and colourful Provence, the sunny Côte d’Azur, and the mountains of the Southern Alps, it is a region that offers something for everyone. Additionally, the region has a rich culture and heritage, as well as an atypical gastronomy, focused on fruits, vegetables, wines, and various delicacies.

Nice promenade des anglais - Provence-Alpes-Cote-dAzur - Regions of France
City of Nice – View of the Promenade des Anglais

Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur: Where Next?

To evoke Provence is to summon the song of the cicadas, the scent of the lavender fields in bloom, and the picturesque village of St. Paul de Vence, which was immortalised by painters such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Whether you’re looking for stretches of sand for swimming or hiking trails for exploring the great outdoors, you’ll find it all in this stunning region.

Marseille, Nice, Cannes, Aix-en-Provence, Toulon, Antibes, Aubagne, Avignon, and Cannes are the most well-known cities in the PACA region.

Aix-en-Provence

The town of Aix-en-Provence, a sister city of Bath, is ideal for those who seek a peaceful escape. You can indulge in the local markets, explore art galleries, and enjoy people-watching in the beautiful streets of the historic centre. Aix is one of the most popular destinations in southern France and is famous for its numerous fountains.

Practical Information About the Regions of France

How to get around France?

France has a well-developed transportation infrastructure that makes it easy for travellers to explore the country. Here are various ways to travel in and around France:

By Plane

  • Domestic Flights: While trains are often the preferred mode of transportation for domestic travel, some regions and islands are more accessible by plane. Airports in major cities facilitate quick connections.

By Train

  •   TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse): High-speed trains connect major cities, providing a quick and efficient way to travel. The TGV network includes popular routes like Paris to Lyon, Marseille, and more.
  •    Regional Trains: TER (Transport Express Régional) services connect smaller towns and cities within regions.

 By Bus

  • Long-Distance Buses: Companies like FlixBus, BlaBlaBus and Eurolines offer affordable intercity and international bus services, connecting major cities and regions.
  • Regional Buses: Local bus services are available in most regions, providing transportation within cities and to nearby towns.

  By Car

  • Rental Cars: Renting a car is a convenient option for exploring rural areas, vineyards, and small towns. Major international and local car rental companies operate in airports and cities.
  • Highways (Autoroutes): France has an extensive network of well-maintained toll highways. Plan your route, and be prepared for toll fees. Check our guide for driving in France

By Metro and Trams

  • Paris Metro: The Parisian metro system is one of the most efficient ways to navigate the capital. It connects all major attractions and neighbourhoods.
  • Other Cities: Lyon, Marseille, Lille, and other cities have their own metro and tram systems, providing convenient transportation within urban areas.

  By Bicycles

  • City Bike Rentals: Many cities, including Paris, offer bike-sharing programs. It’s a sustainable and enjoyable way to explore urban areas.
  • Countryside Cycling: Rent bikes in rural areas to explore picturesque landscapes and vineyards. Dedicated cycling paths and routes are available.

By Boats and Ferries

  • River Cruises: River cruises along the Seine in Paris or the Rhône in Lyon offer a unique perspective of the cities. Cruising along the Canal du Midi is also an excellent way of exploring the Occitanie region. 
  • Coastal Ferries: Explore coastal regions and islands, like Corsica, by taking ferries from major ports. Ferries are also a great way to reach France from southern England.

Travel Tips and Resources

Here are some of my favourite travel tips and resources.

  • Flights: I’m all about snapping the best deals when it comes to booking flights. Therefore, I use Google Flights and Skyscanner to get the best deals each time. I use AirHelp to receive compensation for delayed and cancelled flights.
  • Trains: I love using Trainline to book trains within Europe.
  • Accommodations: Booking.com and Agoda are my favourite sites for great hotels and private home deals. They both offer a wide range of hotels, including luxury accommodations and private homes.
  • Car Rentals: When it comes to travelling to remote destinations, renting a car is ideal, for these, I love renting cars through Discover Cars. They offer some great options for affordable rentals, and their customer service is one the best.
  • Tours and Experiences: Visiting a new place also means getting to experience and do many things. I usually book tours via GetYourGuide or TripAdvisor. If you like doing things solo, WeGoTrip offers audio tours and excursions.
  • Travel Insurance: Travelling without proper travel insurance is not recommended. I always travel with one. Use VisitorsCoverage to compare and get the best travel insurance policy for you.

The regions of France offer a wide range of experiences. From the romantic streets of Paris to the sun-kissed beaches of the Côte d’Azur, there is something for everyone. Whether you are interested in history, gastronomy, or natural beauty, each region offers something unique, making France an enchanting destination for every traveller.

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Hi there! I'm Mayi. Welcome to my blog SecretMoona! I hope to share with you the hidden secret of places I visit.

21 thoughts on “Exploring the Regions of France _ All You Need to Know

  1. Wow! You put a lot of work into this beautiful post. I love the maps. So very useful, even to someone who has seen a lot of France. But there is always room for more. I will definitely use this guide in the future. Merci!

  2. Your post reminds me that I need to explore France more broadly. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Paris and down around Annecy, but not enough time elsewhere.

  3. Wow!! Such an educational post! I didn’t realize just how many different regions France was seperated into. Normandy and Brittany are both very high on my list. Saving this for future reference!

  4. This is a fantastic resource! From the descriptions of each region of France to the photos to the clever maps of each region. This is a really well-done article. We will be traveling back to France (hopefully soon) and this will help us pin down where we want to go and what we want to see (and eat). I wish I had this when we were there in 2019.

  5. I was in France for a bit but only in several regions. This article really highlights what I missed and where I should visit when I return.

  6. We have travelled a lot in France. But this post shows me there are some regions we really need to visit. And many that are time to re-visit. I will definitely be keeping this post as a good reference to pick our next spot. Fun that each region seems to have at least one distinctive feature or product.

  7. Wow, what a great guide! I’ve only been to Provence so far and Paris, but need to see other places, especially the North coast – Normandie due to its historical importance

    1. Thanks. Both Provence and Paris are popular destinations in France, with plenty of historical sites to explore. Normandy is a great region to start your journey, especially since it’s situated close to Paris.

  8. This is a very useful guide. I didn’t know most of the information, thanks so much. Super easy to read too and with great advice. I’ll use it before I plan traveling to France next time, so I can make the most of it.

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