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The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the département system superseded provinces. The change was an attempt to eradicate local loyalties based on feudal ownership of land and focus all loyalty on the central government in Paris.

The process by which the territory of the various provinces was gradually incorporated into France may be followed in the article Territorial formation of France.

The names of the former provinces are still used by geographers to designate natural regions, and several French administrative regions carry their names.

The meaning of "province"

French départements, their names, and their borders were chosen by the central government. In contrast, the existence of provinces came from the droit coutumier ("customary law") and was merely certified by the state. A province, also known as état ("state"), was characterised by the laws that belonged to it. A province itself could encompass several other provinces. For example, Burgundy was a province but Bressemarker — another province — was nevertheless a part of Burgundy.

There is therefore no official list of provinces. The list of généralités, administrative subdivisions of the kingdom, is often presented when one wants to establish the list of provinces on the eve of the French Revolution. The list below is much larger, encompassing provinces throughout French history.

List of former provinces of France


Major Provinces of France before the Revolution, with provincial capitals marked. Listed as English name (capital). Cities in bold had provincial "parlements" or "conseils souverains".

1. Île-de-Francemarker (Paris)

2. Berry (Bourgesmarker)

3. Orléanais (Orléansmarker)

4. Normandy (Rouenmarker)

5. Languedoc (Toulousemarker)

6. Lyonnais (Lyonmarker)

7. Dauphiné (Grenoblemarker)

8. Champagne (Troyesmarker)

9. Aunismarker (La Rochellemarker)

10. Saintonge (Saintesmarker)

11. Poitou (Poitiersmarker)

12. Guyennemarker and Gasconymarker (Bordeauxmarker)

13. Burgundy (Dijonmarker)

14. Picardy (Amiensmarker)

15. Anjoumarker (Angersmarker)

16. Provence (Aix-en-Provencemarker)

17. Angoumoismarker (Angoulêmemarker)

18. Bourbonnais (Moulinsmarker)

19. Marche (Guéretmarker)

20. Brittany (Rennesmarker)

21. Maine (Le Mansmarker)

22. Tourainemarker (Toursmarker)

23. Limousinmarker (Limogesmarker)

24. Foix (Foixmarker)

25. Auvergne (Clermont-Ferrandmarker)

26. Béarn (Paumarker)

27. Alsacemarker (Strasbourgmarker, cons. souv. in Colmarmarker)

28. Artoismarker (Arrasmarker)

29. Roussillon (Perpignanmarker)

30. Flanders and Hainautmarker (Lillemarker, parlement in Douaimarker)

31. Franche-Comtémarker (Besançonmarker)

32. Lorraine (Nancymarker)

33. Corsicamarker (off map, Ajacciomarker, cons. souv. in Bastiamarker)

34. Nivernais (Neversmarker)

35. Comtat Venaissin, a Papalmarker fief

36. Imperial Free City of Mulhousemarker

37. Savoy, a Sardinian fief

38. Nicemarker, a Sardinian fief

39. Montbéliardmarker, a fief of Württembergmarker

40. (not pictured) Trois-Évêchés (Metz, Toul and Verdun).

Parts of France in 1789

Provinces not part of France in 1789

See also

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