Provence #4: The Difference Between Country Divisions

One of the things that drives me crazy when I begin learning about another country is understanding how the country is broken down into individual areas and how this compares to the United States. For instance, the United States are broken down into states, counties, and then cities. France is more granulated then the US, which makes for a lot of confusion.

United States State County City/Town
France Region Department Communes/City/Town

These are the areas which will apply to our visit to France

Region Department Main Communes
Provence-Alpes-
Côte-d’Azur (PACA)
Haute-Alpes
Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Alpes-Maritimes
Bouches-du-Rhône
Var
Vaucluse
Occitanie*
Languedoc-Rousillon Aude
Gard
Hérault
Lozère
Pyrénées-Orientales
 Midi-Pyrénées Ariège
Aveyron
Haute-Garonne
Gers
Lot
Hautes-Pyrénées
Tarn
Tarn-et-Garonne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Merging of Regions: In 2016, the two regions of Languedoc-Rousillon and Midi-Pyrenees were merged to form Occitania. This formation didn’t happen without a lot of argument, and websites are all over the map when it comes to updating their information.

France has many divisions that are mentioned only within government settings. For instance, further breakdown from region is arrondissements and then cantons. Cantons are then divided into communes, which are the same as cities/towns. Paris is a commune, for example. There are some communes, such as Paris and Marsaille, which are further broken down into municipal arrondissements. Marsaille is also divided into 8 sectors. To muddy the waters, communes may merge together though they are separate towns.

For a full picture, Wiki’s Administrative divisions of France explains all of this in great detail.