All you need to know about France’s new regions

All you need to know about France’s new regions

It’s official! France has chosen the new names and capitals for its new 13 regions. Find out the history behind the names and how popular they have been with residents

New name: OCCITANIE (Occitania)

Old regions: Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées

New capital: Toulouse

Why Occitanie? The name Occitanie comes from the language of Occitan which was once widely spoken in southern Europe and still spoken by many in southern France. The previous name Languedoc (langue d’oc) also originated from the same place.

Is everyone happy with the new name? The region is home to French Catalans who live along the French-Spanish border. In this area of France you are more likely to see the yellow and red Catalan flag flying than the French flag and French Catalans have been protesting strongly to the name Occitanie claiming it has nothing to do with their culture or identity. They have called for ‘Pays Catalan’ to be added to the name so it reflects both cultural identities in the region.


Find out more about Occitanie in our region guide

Why did France change its regions?


New name: NOUVELLE AQUITAINE (New Aquitaine)

Old regions: Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes

New capital: Bordeaux

Why Nouvelle Aquitaine? The name Nouvelle Aquitaine was proposed by a committee of experts set up by the regional council and they chose the name claiming it reflects the rooting of the region in its history while ‘new’ is the symbol or rebirth. Aquitaine is easily the best known region outside of France and so from a tourism perspective the new name makes sense. They will retain Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes as a strapline below the official name.

Is everyone happy with the new name? When the name was first proposed in June 2016 a petition was created which gained more than 20,000 signatures. They were protesting at the name Nouvelle Aquitaine calling it an annexation of the former regions of Limousin and Poitou-Charentes by Aquitaine and asking for all three former regions to be recognised in the name.


Find out more about Nouvelle Aquitaine in our region guide


New name: GRAND-EST (Great East)

Old regions: Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine

New capital: Strasbourg

Why Grand-Est? A public consultation was again held to choose the region’s new name. Originally Grand-Est wasn’t even on the list with the options being Nouvelle-Austrasie, Rhin-Champagne and Acalie but these were ridiculed so much on social media that Grand-Est was added at the last minute. It was overwhelmingly chosen by 75% of the 300,000 residents who voted. The region will keep the strapline Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine to preserve the identity of the region. It was felt to be less controversial to name the region for its geographical location rather than choosing a particular cultural identity at the expense of the others.

Is everyone happy with the new name? Grand-Est won an overwhelming majority in the public vote and seems to be less controversial than the other options.


Find out more about Grand-Est in our region guide


New name: HAUTS-DE-FRANCE (High France)

Old regions: Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy

New capital: Lille

Why Hauts-de-France? A consultation was held and three names were put to the vote by the regional council: Nord-de-France, Terres du Nord and Hauts-de-France. Hauts-de-France received 38.4% of the public vote, Terres du Nord 37.5% and Nord-de-France 24.1% and 116 regional councillors voted for Hauts-de-France with the strapline Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie for a transitional period. Hauts-de-France was felt to be more neutral and based on geography while the other two options were thought to favour Nord-Pas-de-Calais over Picardy.

Is everyone happy with the new name? There were protests against the name when it was first proposed, criticised as being snobby and referring not to the region’s position at the ‘top’ of France geographically. It has also been suggested that ‘Haut’ means high territory (i.e. mountains) whereas the region is fairly flat.


Find out more about Hauts-de-France in our region guide


New name: CENTRE-VAL DE LOIRE (Centre-Loire Valley)

Old regions: Centre

New capital: Orléans

Why Centre-Val de Loire? The Loire Valley is much better known outside of France than the Centre region and many people didn’t even realise the Loire Valley was in the Centre region. Therefore, it was decided the region should be renamed to incorporate this well-known brand, hence Centre-Val de Loire which translates as Centre-Loire Valley.


Find out more about Centre-Val de Loire in our region guide


New name: NORMANDIE (Normandy)

Old regions: Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy

New capital: Rouen

Why Normandy? This was one of the easiest renaming decisions! Many people referred to the separate regions of Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy by the collective name of Normandy even before the merging of the regions so it was the logical name and it was decided when the new regions were created without resorting to public votes. The name comes from the Dukes of Normandy (the most famous of whom was William the Conqueror) who ruled northern France in the Middle Ages.

Is everyone happy with the new name? Most people referred to the area as Normandy even before the change so it seems to have sparked very little protest.


Find out more about Normandy in our region guide


New name: BOURGOGNE-FRANCHE-COMTÉ (Burgundy-Franche-Comté)

Old regions: Burgundy and Franche-Comté

New capital: Dijon

Why Bourgogne-Franche-Comté? A poll was held asking residents whether they were happy to stick with the provisional name which was simply the old region names put together. The council didn’t think any of the alternative suggestions were good enough and so has stuck with Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (Burgundy-Franche-Comté in English). Burgundy is such a well-known name, mostly because of its wine, that it made sense to keep that in its new name.

Is everyone happy with the new name? Unlike in some of the other regions there hasn’t been much protest to the new name, probably because it is keeping the names of both of the old regions so neither feels like it is losing its identity.


Find out more about Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in our region guide



Old regions: Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes

New capital: Lyon

Why Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes? A public consultation was held and then a vote by the regional councillors in which the name Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes was unanimously agreed on. The reasons given by the president of the region were that the new name shows the three main parts of the region – the Alps, the Rhone river and the Auvergne – all of which are well known outside of France.

Is everyone happy with the new name? Again, there hasn’t been much protest to the new name, probably because it is keeping the names of both of the old regions so neither feels like it is losing its identity.

Find out more about Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in our region guide


The following regions remain the same as before:

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (capital Marseille)

Île-de-France (capital Paris)

Brittany (capital Rennes)

Pays de la Loire (capital Nantes)

Corsica (capital Ajaccio)

Find out more:

Why did France change its regions?

Discover France’s new regions and names

Share to:  Facebook  Twitter   LinkedIn   Email

Previous Article The November issue of FRANCE Magazine is out now!
Next Article Exciting and unusual holidays in France you should try

Related Articles