Burgundy is a historical region in east-central France. It's famous for its Burgundy wines as well as pinot noirs and Chardonnay, Chablis and Beaujolais. The area is crisscrossed by a network of canals and studded with grand châteaux, some now luxury hotels. The capital, Dijon, of mustard fame, is home to the imposing Palace of the Dukes, where the distinguished Musée des Beaux-Arts was established in 1787.
Franche-Comté is a region in eastern France, on the border with Switzerland. Largely rural, it's characterized by gentle mountains, fertile agricultural valleys and pine forests. The region’s capital, Besançon, was once the clock-making capital of France. Clocks and watches at the Musée du Temps celebrate this heritage. On a hill overlooking the old town, the sprawling Citadel of Besançon contains several museums.
Limousin is a sparsely populated historical region in south-central France. Mainly agricultural and covering part of the rugged Massif Central mountains, it’s known for beef farming and its distinctive Limousin cattle. Its principal city, Limoges, home to Gothic cathedral Saint-Étienne, has been producing fine porcelain since the 19th century. Thousands of pieces are on display at the Adrien Dubouché ceramics museum.
Poitou-Charentes, now part of Nouvelle Aquitaine, is a former region on the French Atlantic coast with Roman, Renaissance and medieval history. In the coastal city of La Rochelle, the 14th-century St-Nicolas Tower overlooks Vieux Port, the old harbor. Île de Ré and Île d'Oléron are 2 low-lying islands known for oysters and fishing villages. Inland is Poitiers, the region's hilltop capital dating to Roman times.
Normandy is a region of northern France. Its varied coastline includes white-chalk cliffs and WWII beachheads, including Omaha Beach, site of the famous D-Day landing. Just off the coast, the rocky island of Mont-Saint-Michel is topped by a soaring Gothic abbey. The city of Rouen, dominated by Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen, is where military leader and Catholic saint Joan of Arc was executed in 1431.
Alsace is a historical region in northeastern France on the Rhine River plain. Bordering Germany and Switzerland, it has alternated between German and French control over the centuries and reflects a mix of those cultures. Its capital, Strasbourg, is centered on the Ill River’s Grand Île island, bordered by canals and home to the Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, with its animated astronomical clock.
Champagne-Ardenne, now part of Grand Est, is a former region of northeastern France bordering Belgium. It's renowned for the sparkling white wines that bear its name. Prestigious champagne houses are centered in the city of Reims, and the towns of Épernay, and Châlons-en-Champagne. The region is mostly made up of hilly countryside, dotted with vineyards, medieval monuments, fortified hill towns and nature reserves.
Lorraine, now part of Grand Est, is a former region in northeast France bordering Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. Much of it is rural, with the Vosges mountains and Verdun forest offering hiking and skiing. Metz has the Gothic cathedral of St.-Étienne and contemporary art at the Centre Pompidou-Metz. Former seat of the Dukes of Lorraine, Nancy is known for the grand Place Stanislas square and art nouveau buildings.
Aquitaine, archaic Guyenne/Guienne is a traditional region of France, and was an administrative region of France until 1 January 2016. It is now part of the region Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
Midi-Pyrénées, now part of Occitanie, is a former region in southern France separated from Spain by the Pyrenees Mountains. Its capital, Toulouse, is known for its university, aerospace industry and Romanesque St. Sernin Basilica, part of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route. Pilgrims also flock to the Grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais, a region in north eastern France on the border with Belgium is home to the city of Lille, with its renown university and beautiful Flemish architecture. The southern part of the region is dotted with many chateaux and gothic cathedrals.
Picardy, part of Hauts-de-France, is a historical region of northern France, stretching north from the suburbs of Paris and vineyards of Champagne to the beaches of the Bay of Somme on the English Channel. Regional capital Amiens is a university city known for its Gothic cathedral, the floating gardens on its canals and Maison de Jules Verne, the famous adventure novelist's 19th-century home, which is now a museum.
Auvergne is a historical region in central France, and is now part of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The mostly rural, mountainous area is popular for hiking and skiing, with vast forests and dormant volcanoes such as Puy de Dôme. An abundance of natural hot springs has spawned spa towns such as Vichy, known for its mineral water. Clermont-Ferrand is a busy university city with a stately Romanesque church, Notre-Dame du Port.
Rhône-Alpes, now part of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, is a former region of southeast France bordering Switzerland and Italy. Its Massif Central mountains and dramatic canyons carved by the Ardèche River are popular for hiking and rafting. The city of Lyon is a cultural and culinary hub with a Renaissance and medieval center. In Bourg-en-Bresse, the Gothic Royal de Brou monastery has ornate royal tombs with marble statues.
Brittany, France’s northwesternmost region, is a hilly peninsula extending out toward the Atlantic Ocean. Its lengthy, rugged coastline is dotted with beach resorts such as chic Dinard and walled Saint-Malo, built on rock in the English Channel. The Pink Granite Coast is famed for its unusual, blush-hued sand and rocks. Brittany is known for its abundant prehistoric menhirs (a type of megalith).
La région Centre-Val de Loire est traversée par la vallée de la Loire caractérisée par ses terres agricoles et ses châteaux somptueux. C'est également une grande région vinicole connue surtout pour ses vins blancs tels que le Sancerre et le Pouilly-Fumé. La vallée de la Loire est relativement plate et sillonnée de pistes cyclables dont l'itinéraire cyclotouristique de 800 km de long : La Loire à Vélo.
Corsica, a mountainous Mediterranean island, presents a mix of stylish coastal towns, dense forest and craggy peaks (Monte Cinto is the highest). Nearly half the island falls within a park whose hiking trails include the challenging GR 20. Its beaches range from busy Pietracorbara to remote Saleccia and Rondinara. It's been part of France since 1768, but retains a distinct Italian culture.
Île-de-France is a region in north-central France. It surrounds the nation’s famed capital, Paris, an international center for culture and cuisine with chic cafes and formal gardens. The city's landmarks include the Louvre, home to da Vinci’s "Mona Lisa," the iconic Eiffel Tower and Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral. Outside Paris, there are forests, grand châteaux and farms, including dairies that produce milk for Brie.
La région des Pays de la Loire est située à l'ouest de la France et bordée par le golfe de Gascogne. Elle comprend une partie de la vallée de la Loire, renommée pour ses vignobles. Parmi les imposants châteaux de la vallée, citons le château de Saumur, un fort médiéval perché sur une colline abritant un musée dédié à la ville, et celui de Brissac, doté de 7 étages et à la décoration d'époque. Nantes, la préfecture de la région, compte le château à douves des ducs de Bretagne, transformé en musée.
Provence, a region in southeastern France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, is known for its diverse landscapes, from the Southern Alps and Camargue plains to rolling vineyards, olive groves, pine forests and lavender fields. To the south is the Côte d'Azur (or French Riviera), where the elegant city of Nice and glamorous resort towns such as Saint-Tropez and Cannes line the coast.