Area: 8,280 km2 (3,197 mi2)
Regional capital: Strasbourg
On the left bank of the Rhine, Alsace links France to Germany. In the European context, its position is of special significance. This prime location has proven extremely advantageous for the Alsatian economy. Its industry is highly diversified (engineering, textiles, chemicals, breweries, etc.). The Alsatian capital, Strasbourg, is the home of the European Parliament on whose presence it seeks to increase its development.
Area: 41,309 km2 (15,950 mi2)
Regional capital: Bordeaux
For many years, Aquitaine has essentially owed its wealth to the famous vineyards of the Bordeaux country and to its vast pine forests. Despite the good results achieved in the aerospace, agri-foodstuffs and wood pulp industries, the scale of industrial development is still open to improvement. The region's varied coastline has encouraged the development of tourism (Biarritz, St Jean-de-Luz, Arcachon). Fresh impetus has been given by the new TGV train.
Area: 26,013 km2 (10,040 mi2)
Regional capital: Clermont-Ferrand
This relatively mountainous region, in the very heart of France, has always had to contend with the problem of its relative isolation. Agriculture is centred on beef cattle and the production of cheese. There has been a certain amount of industrial development (for instance, the Michelin tyre factory in Clermont-Ferrand); tourism is also a feature of the area, which has a number of natural spas.
Area: 27,209 km2 (10,510 mi2)
Regional capital: Rennes
Improved road and rail links have sped up the development of Brittany which was at one time of relatively difficult access and, for many years, a land of emigration. It is now France's main agricultural area and new industries have been established in its cities (motor vehicle plants in Rennes, engineering and electronics in Brest). Tourism plays an important role. Brittany also plays a significant role in France's fishing industry.
Area: 31,582 km2 (12,190 mi2)
Regional capital: Dijon
Burgundy may be likened to a great thoroughfare on the European north-south axis. Lacking a dominant sector in its economy, it offers a wide variety of activities in agriculture (Burgundy wines, beef cattle) and in industry (metallurgy, engineering, foodstuffs, etc.). The region's renowned architectural treasures and gastronomy greatly benefit tourism.
Area: 39,151 km2 (15,120 mi2)
Regional capital: Orléans
An important feature of this region is its very high agricultural potential (France's most important in terms of cereal production). It has also benefited from the decentralisation of companies transferred from the Paris area (motor vehicle accessories, electronics, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics). The wealth of its historic heritage (Chateaux of the Loire, Chartres cathedral, etc.) attracts many tourists.
Area: 25,606 km2 (9,887 mi2)
Regional capital: Châlons-sur-Marne
This region is endowed with rich agricultural resources such as cereal crops and vineyards which produce the famous Champagne. Champagne-Ardenne is also updating and replacing some of its older industries (iron foundries, textiles) thanks to new developments in electronics, agri-foodstuffs, etc.
Area: 8,680 km2 (3,351 mi2)
Regional capital: Ajaccio
Corsica, an island, is a region in itself. With a small population due to emigration, it has little industry and limited agricultural resources (vineyards, sheep). Yet, the length of the coastline, the mildness of the climate and the exceptional beauty of the landscape lead tourism to constitute a substantial source of income for the islanders.
Area: 16,202 km2 (6,256 mi2)
Regional capital: Besançon
A high proportion of this region's population works in industry. Besançon is the capital of France's watch and clock-making industry and of high precision engineering, while Montbéliard-Sochaux is the home of the Peugeot car firm. More traditional activities are also carried out: cheese-making, woodwork, etc.
Area: 12,012 km2 (4,638 mi2)
Regional capital: Paris
Containing the Paris conurbation, the region includes about 18% of the population of France and has the highest concentration of economic activities, including industry (motor vehicles, electronics, clothing, pharmaceuticals) and services. All government departments, national headquarters of public authorities and the head offices of the main companies are located there. Prime resources in education and research are to be found in the Paris area. A major press, publishing and arts center, Paris also houses a number of international organizations including UNESCO and the OECD.
Area: 23,376 km2 (9,026 mi2)
Regional capital: Montpellier
The economic development of this region has lagged behind, due to a shortage of manufacturing industries and a crisis in wine production. It is now enjoying a real revival, thanks to the diversification of its agriculture, the expansion of tourism, the establishment of advanced technology industries and research, in particular in and around Montpellier, the regional capital and an important university center.
Area: 16,942 km2 (6,541 mi2)
Regional capital: Limoges
The agri-foodstuffs industry and the production of leather are the main activities of this region. A number of manufacturing industries operate successfully, for example the "Porcelaine de Limoges" which produces luxury wares of world-wide renown. A special effort is being made to open up the region.
Area: 23,547 km2 (9,092 mi2)
Regional capital: Metz
The difficulties encountered by the iron and steel industry, and the coal mines on which the wealth of Lorraine was built, have brought about economic problems and the region is now engaged in a far-reaching program of industrial reconversion and diversification of activities in Metz, the regional capital and in Nancy, the university center.
Area: 45,348 km2 (17,510 mi2)
Regional capital: Toulouse
This is the largest of metropolitan France's 22 regions. Traditionally an agricultural area, it has been affected by the exodus of its rural population. It is now undergoing a marked economic recovery. Toulouse is the main centre of France's aerospace industry (the Airbus is assembled there) and the second in importance for advanced technological activities in France (research, data-processing, computers, robotics).
Area: 12,412 km2 (4,792 mi2)
Regional capital: Lille
This was France's major industrial region in the 19th century (thanks to the coal and textile industries) and the most heavily populated. In recent years, it has had to cope with the closure of mines, the decline of the steel industry and the problems of the textile industry. In spite of this, the region which has long been an area of vast economic potential is developing modern industries and is taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by the Channel tunnel and the TGV-Nord high speed train service.
Area: 17,589 km2 (6,791 mi2)
Regional capital: Caen
Formerly, this was essentially an agricultural region but its economy has undergone change with the development of the agri-foodstuffs industry and the creation of a number of light industries (light engineering, motor vehicles, electronics). Tourism is significant, especially along the coastline. Lower Normandy also has two seaports, Cherbourg and Caen, providing regular services with the United Kingdom.
Area: 12,317 km2 (4,756 mi2)
Regional capital: Rouen
The main feature of the region's economy is the considerable development of the Lower Seine with its two major ports of Le Havre and Rouen (France's 2nd and 5th largest) and their industries (oil refining, chemicals, motor vehicles). Agriculture (livestock, cereals), the agri-foodstuffs industry and tourism all contribute to the economic life of the region whose proximity to Paris is a great asset.
Pays de la Loire
Area: 32,082 km2 (12,390 mi2)
Regional capital: Nantes
The region holds second place in France in terms of agricultural production and first place for livestock breeding. Originally, the region's economy was based essentially on the agri-foodstuffs industry but it has become gradually more diversified and now includes electronics, engineering, clothing and footwear. The hub of its activity is the Nantes-Saint Nazaire port complex, the fourth largest in France. A high speed train service (TGV) links Nantes with Paris in 2 hours, thus furthering development of the economy and of tourism (Atlantic beaches).
Area: 19,399 km2 (7,490 mi2)
Regional capital: Amiens
This is a very rich agricultural area (cereals and industrial crops) which has led to the development of the agri-foodstuffs industry (sugar, flour mills). Picardy's position, set half-way between the Ile-de-France and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions, means that it has also been able to develop its chemical, tire-manufacturing and other industries. Picardy intends to take full advantage of its pivotal geographical position.
Area: 25,809 km2 (9,965 mi2)
Regional capital: Poitiers
A mainly rural region with farmland used mainly for beef cattle and the vineyards used for the production of Cognac. The Poitou-Charentes region has been undergoing growing industrialisation over the last few decades, with the creation of agri-foodstuffs industries and light industries (engineering, tyres, etc.). The seaport of La Rochelle and the beaches along the Atlantic also contribute to the region's economy.
Area: 31,400 km2 (12,120 mi2)
Regional capital: Marseille
The region owes its wealth to its Mediterranean coastline, its excellent climate and its natural beauty. Marseille, France's largest port and the second in Europe (after Rotterdam), shapes the region's economic life: oil refineries, iron and steel production, chemicals, foodstuffs, etc. To the east, Nice and the Côte d'Azur have, for over a century, been famous tourist resorts. The French perfume industry has its base in and around Grasse. The region also hosts numerous high-technology companies at the Sophia Antipolis industrial park northwest of Antibes.
Area: 43,698 km2 (16,870 mi2)
Regional capital: Lyon
From the point of view of population and of economic development, Rhône-Alpes ranks second in importance among metropolitan France's 22 regions. The Lyon metropolitan area constitutes France's second most important manufacturing and services center (electrical and mechanical engineering, chemicals, clothing, etc.). Lyon is also renowned for its universities, besides being the second largest financial center. The region, one of France's major tourist areas, was selected for the 1992 Winter Olympics.