Getting to know the geography of France has been an achievement for me this year – I now know what’s where. However, the French parliament has recently approved a new administrative map of France, which cuts the number of regions from 22 to 13.
I’ll have to start all over again.
Aquitaine – home to the départements of Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne, where I spent most of my time – is now joined with Poitou-Charentes and Limousin. Together, they form what is effectively a super-region.
Similarly, the Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon join forces under the new regional structure, as do Lower and Upper Normandy.
The move is all about reducing the state budget, of course. Fewer regions means fewer regional capitals – and fewer employees.
Getting agreement on the 13 regions hasn’t been easy. Some plans have proved too contentious to make it through. Originally, for example, it was proposed that the Loire-Atlantique department should rejoin Brittany as part of the changes, but that proved unacceptable.
In the end, six regions remain unchanged. The other 16 regions have become just seven – and now each will have to decide which city will become its regional capital.
“The other 16 regions have become just seven – and each will have to decide which city will become its regional capital”
Bordeaux has been the head of Aquitaine (pictured is the region’s council building), but it remains to be seen if it will give way to Poitiers, the capital of Poitou-Charentes, or Limoges, the capital of Limousin.
The map may have been agreed but the fighting, I suspect, is far from over.