The Departments of Metropolitan France

The Departments of Metropolitan France

France is a vast country which is divided into different regions – these are then sub-divided into administrative departments or locally known "départements".  Overall, there are 96 administrative departments situated in mainland France which are numbered 1 to 95, plus five overseas departments – there is, however, no number 20! These allocated numbers are used as the “Official Geographical Code” much like the postcode system in the UK.

Each department is allocated a capital city or prefecture department which is usually the largest city within the department.  Each département is governed by an elected general council, which holds responsibility for local services, laws, and budget; an officer called a commissioner represents the national government and is the council’s executive agent.

The departments were created in 1790 after the Revolution in an attempt to unify the country. They replaced the Ancien Régime provinces which had been the political and social system of the Kingdom of France since the Late Middle Ages. New departments are created when existing departments became overly populated and harder to govern.

Each department is named after the geographic features of the area and each has a coat of arms commonly associated with their department. The department of Côte-d'Or is the only department not named after some form of geography – it literally translates as “golden slope” and was termed by a local MP in 1789 who wanted to honour the golden leaves on the sloping vineyards.

Here is a list of the most popular departments of France, we can see them all by simply visiting the appropriate regional page first, which has a list of all the departments for that specific region. They are in numerical order.

(06) Alpes-Maritimes
, (09) Ariège
, (11) Aude, 
(12) Aveyron, 
(14) Calvados, 
(16) Charente, 
(21) Côte-d'Or
, (22) Côtes-d'Armor, 
(24) Dordogne, 
(26) Drôme, 
(29) Finistère
, (30) Gard
, (31) Haute-Garonne,
(32) Gers, 
(33) Gironde, 
(34) Hérault
, (36) Indre,
 (37) Indre-et-Loire
, (50) Manche, 
(53) Mayenne
, (58) Nièvre
, (61) Orne
, (66) Pyrénées-Orientales, 
(69) Rhône
, (71) Saône-et-Loire
, (72) Sarthe
, (73) Savoie
, (74) Haute-Savoie
, (75) Paris
, (79) Deux-Sèvres, 
(81) Tarn
, (82) Tarn-et-Garonne
, ( 83) Var
, (84) Vaucluse, 
(85) Vendée, 
(86) Vienne and 
(89) Yonne

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