France is the most visited country in the world – and no wonder, with a diverse landscape which includes mountains, glorious countryside, beautiful beaches, historic cities and towns and gorgeous villages. Here are the regions of France at a glance…
The regions of France
There are 13 metropolitan regions in France (as at January 2016 when some regions merged to become super regions).
The northernmost region of France made up of Pas de Calais, Nord and Picardy. The capital is Lille and the region has the lovely Opal Coast beaches, beautiful countryside and many memorials to WWI and WWII. Get there by Eurostar (Calais Frethun), Eurotunnel and ferry.
2. Normandy (Normandie)
Normandy used to be broken down to upper and lower Normandy. A land of beaches, countryside and famous for its food and cider. Get there via ferry direct from the UK and a few hours drive from Calais. The no. 1 attraction is Mont St Michel, a medieval island town but there’s much more to fall in love with from Honfleur to Monet’s garden at Giverny.
3. Brittany (Bretagne)
In the northwest of France Brittany is famous for its beaches and pretty country villages. The coast of Brittany is the most popular for beach lovers after the Mediterranean. Ferries go direct from southern England to Brittany.
With Paris at its centre, this region receives the most visits of any region in France. It’s also home to Disney Europe and many of the big chateaux such as Vaux-le-Vicomte. Easy to reach by Eurostar direct to Paris and two international airports.
5. Centre-Val de Loire
In the centre of France, this is where you’ll find the famed Loire Valley and the famous Valley of the Kings where the country chateaux of the nobles were built. Chenonceau, Azay le Rideau, Blois, Chambord, Amboise. It’s wine country too – the vineyards of the Loire are renowned. Easy to reach via fast train from Paris but this is great touring by car or bike country.
6. Pays de la Loire
With its stunning western beaches of the Loire-Atlantique and the Vendee departments plus gorgeous countryside, the Pays de la Loire is one of the most underrated regions of France. It’s home to Le Mans and the capital Nantes is just 2 hours from Paris by train.
This is the biggest super region of France consisting of the former regions of Limousin, Poitou-Charentes and Aquitaine. Dordogne, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, vineyards, beaches, countryside – there’s everything you could possibly want from a holiday in France here.
Another big super region, formerly Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrenees and the southernmost region of France (excluding Corsica). Toulouse, Carcassonne, Nimes, Albi, Montpellier – there’s no shortage of fabulous places to visit here and several international airports for ease of access.
9. Grand Est
The former regions of Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine and Alsace joined to become super region Grand Est and what a varied landscape this is. Vineyards galore, historic towns, pictures villages, mountains, lakes and unforgettable countryside. Champagne is easy to reach from Calais, it’s just a couple of hours by car to Reims. There are international airports and fast trains to the major towns including Strasbourg.
10. Burgundy-Franche-Comté (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté)
No prizes for guessing that the former regions of Burgundy linked up with Franche-Comté to create this new region. Wine, mountains, wonderful cities like Dijon and Besancon, chateaux galore and truly beautiful countryside make this a standout region that’s strangely not that well known to visitors. Connected by fast train to major cities.
In the south east of France the Auvergne and Rhone Alpes regions joined to form one big super region. Mountainous and popular for winter sports, home to the French side of Mont Blanc, as well as home to the foodie city of Lyon.
12 Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur
The most visited of the French regions outside of Ile de France thanks to its many attractions – Provence, Marseille, the Mediterranean to name but a few. Easy to reach by plane or train and great touring country by car and bike. Served by international airports and fast train services.
With its sunny climate and diverse landscape, the island of Corsica lures some 3 million visitors a year. Said to have the best beaches in Europe, historic cities, unique gastronomy and mountainous interior. Reach it by ferry from mainland France or by air.
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