Metropolitan France is divided into 13 administrative regions, which themselves can be grouped into seven cultural regions:
The region surrounding the French capital, Paris.
|Northern France (Nord-Pas de Calais, Picardy, Normandy)|
A region where the world wars have left many scars.
|Northeastern France (Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne-Ardenne, Franche-Comté)|
A region where wider European culture (and especially Germanic culture) has merged with the French, giving rise to interesting results.
|Great West (Brittany, Pays de la Loire)|
An agriculture-based oceanic region with a culture greatly influenced by the ancient Celtic peoples.
|Central France (Centre-Val de Loire, Poitou-Charentes, Burgundy, Limousin, Auvergne)|
A largely agricultural and vinicultural region, featuring river valleys, châteaux and historic towns.
|Southwestern France (Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees)|
A region of sea and wine, with nice beaches over the Atlantic Ocean and young high mountains close to Spain.
|Southeastern France (Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Corsica)|
The primary tourist region of the country outside of Paris, with a warm climate and azure sea, contrasting with the mountainous French Alps.
Each administrative region is divided into a number of departments. Each department is allocated a 2 digit number. This number forms the first 2 digits of the 5 digit French postcode.
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- French Polynesia (Polynésie Française) — post-card tropical islands in Oceania
- New Caledonia (Nouvelle Caledonie) — long-shaped island in Oceania
- Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (Saint Pierre et Miquelon) — small islands off the Canadian coast
The following overseas territories are remote possessions kept as natural reservations:
- French Southern and Antarctic territories (Terres Antarctiques et Australes Françaises, or TAAF), consisting of Terre Adélie in Antarctica and some islands in the Indian Ocean
A very limited form of tourism is available in the TAAF islands.
France has numerous cities of interest to travellers, below is a list of nine of the most notable:
- Paris — the “City of Light”, romance and the Eiffel Tower
- Bordeaux — city of wine, traditional stone mansions and smart terraces
- Bourges — gardens, canals and a cathedral listed as a UNESCO heritage site
- Lille — a dynamic northern city known for its handsome centre and active cultural life
- Lyon — France’s second city with a history from Roman times to the Resistance
- Marseille — Third largest French city with a harbour as big as its place as the heart of Provence
- Nantes — the “Greenest City” and, according to some, the best place to live in Europe
- Strasbourg — famous for its historical centre, and home to many European institutions
- Toulouse — the “Pink City”, for its distinctive brick architecture, main city of Occitania
- Camargue — one of Europe’s largest river deltas and wetlands
- Corsica — the birthplace of Napoleon, a unique island with a distinct culture and language
- Disneyland Paris — the most visited attraction in Europe
- French Alps — home to the highest mountain in Western Europe, the Mont Blanc
- French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) — Mediterranean coastline of France with plenty of upper class seaside resorts, yachts and golf courses
- Loire Valley — the world-famous Loire Valley, best known for its wines and chateaux
- Luberon — the stereotypical Provence of picturesque villages, joie de vivre and wine
- Mont Saint Michel — second most-visited sight in France, a monastery and town built on a tiny outcrop of rock in the sand, which is cut off from the mainland at high tide
- Verdon Gorge — beautiful river canyon in a turquoise-green, great for kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing or just driving around the limestone cliffs