Since the territorial reform in 2015, the European metropolitan area of France has been divided into 13 new regions, each of which corresponds to the rank of a local authority, by partially merging the former 22 regions. With regard to their management skills are they comparable administrative districts, their autonomy is financial, but not legislative kind. The new regions are called in order of the size of their country faces Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitan, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, Grand Est, Bourgogne Franche-Comté, Center-Val de Loire, Pays de la Loire, Hauts-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Normandy, Brittany, Île-de-France (Paris) and the island of Corsica. Each region is divided into further departments. In total, metropolitan France, including the island of Corsica, consists of 96 departments.
According to ethnicityology, France has 6 large cities which, together with their surrounding metropolitan regions, each have a population of over a million. These include the capital Paris with over 12.5 million, Marseille with 3.5 million, Lyon with 2.3 million, Tolouse with approx. 1.3 million, Bordeaux and Lille with approx. 1.2 million and Nice with approx. 1 million residents.
The French capital Paris is the political, economic and cultural center of France and, with three airports and six terminal stations, its largest transport hub. The relatively small area of the core city of around 105 km² has over 2 million residents, which makes Paris the most densely populated city in Europe with a population density of around 21,000 residents per square kilometer.
Paris developed from the 3rd century BC. From the Celtic settlement Lutetia on the Seine, which was later expanded to a city by the Romans and initially became a main residence of the Franconian Empire in the 6th century. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Paris experienced a cultural and art-architectural heyday, especially under Louis XIV, which was expressed in numerous new boulevards and baroque buildings, making Paris an exemplary model for baroque urban development. Although the royal residence was moved to Versailles in 1682, Paris remained the center of the country due to its political and economic importance. At the beginning of the 20th century, Paris, initiated by six world exhibitions,
Due to the unique development of the French capital from the Middle Ages in terms of urban planning and art architecture, Paris has a myriad of sights to offer, of which the famous landmarks of the city such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe or the Louvre are only a few Represent a part and make the city a popular destination for international city trips. Parts of the banks of the Seine are now a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which is also based in the French capital.
In addition, Paris is a world-famous cultural center with its quaint districts such as Montmartre or the Latin Quarter, its internationally important museums, theaters and concert halls, whose flair must be experienced on a cultural tour through France.
Marseille is the most important French port city and is of international importance for cargo handling on the Mediterranean. It is located in southern France not far from the mouth of the Rhone on the Golfe du Lion. With approx. 860,000 residents in the core city and around 3.05 million residents in the metropolitan region, Marseille is the second largest city in France after Paris.
The city was founded around 620–600 BC. BC goes back to the Greeks who founded the permanently inhabited settlement of Massalia at the previously existing port, which soon grew into one of the richest and largest Greek colonies in the western Mediterranean. After an eventful history, during which both the Romans and later the Burgundians shaped the character of the city, a large part of historic Marseilles was demolished by troops of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS in 1943. In the wake of the economic boom in the post-war period and the invasion by the Algerian French after the independence of Algeria, Marseille had to struggle with both urban planning and social problems. Only with the urban renewal project Euromediterrannée did the image of the city slowly change at the beginning of the 1990s. For example, old industrial buildings were dedicated to cultural purposes and the boulevards created during the Second Empire, such as the Rue de la République, were upgraded by private investors. The city continues to make great efforts to beautify the cityscape, but is also exposed to criticism of driving the less affluent population out of the city center.
The numerous sights of Marseille include a variety of interesting museums and exhibitions, among others the Notre-Dame de la Garde, the old port and fishing port, the Quartier du Panier with the ground plans of the first settlement of Marseilles or the park with the Borély castle. A visit to the boulevard La Canebière should not be missing on a trip to Marseille.
The beautiful city of Nice, not far from the border with Monaco and Italy, together with the surrounding seaside resorts, is a popular travel destination for the French Mediterranean coast and the adjoining Provence. Thanks to its sheltered location, Nice is one of the warmest places on the French Côte d’Azur even in winter. The most pleasant months to travel are May and mid-September to mid-October. With almost 350,000 residents, Nice is the fifth largest city in France and has been popular as a summer retreat since the 19th century, first among the European and Russian nobility, and especially among the British.
The founding of Nice probably dates back to around 350 BC. BC when the Greek Phoceans built Níkaia after a victory over the Ligurian city. After the Romans first settled in the city to protect against Ligurian attacks and then Saracen attackers sacked the city, Nice found itself between the fronts of Spanish and French territorial claims in the Middle Ages. After a temporary French possession, the affiliation of Nice changed repeatedly between French and Italian claims by the Savoy in the context of the Austrian War of Succession and the Napoleonic conquests in Piedmont. It was only with the Turin Treaty of 1860 between Napoléon III. and the King of Sardinia-Piedmont,
As a result of its checkered past, the city of Nice has developed a rich architectural heritage. By concentrating the construction activity on the city expansion in the Second Empire, the old town center remained largely intact. The many villas, palaces and baroque churches built during the Savoy era have also been preserved. The diversion of the Paillon River, carried out from 1868 onwards, made it possible to create significant green spaces in what is now the central area of the city and at the same time to use part of the space gained as a construction site for large public buildings. Even during the Second World War, the city, which was initially occupied by Italy and later by German, remained largely undamaged.
In the well-preserved old town there are therefore numerous baroque buildings and churches, such as the Sainte-Réparate Cathedral, the Church of the Annunciation, the Église du Gésu, the Church of Saint-Martin-Saint-Augustin or the Église la Miséricorde. Among the secular buildings are the prefecture, once the seat of the Dukes of Savoy, or the Palais communal as the former town hall. Above the old town lies the castle hill with the ruins of the citadel, which was razed in 1706. The transition to the new town is initiated by Place Garibaldi and Place Masséna, both of which are uniformly designed squares based on Turin models, which are characterized by numerous luxury hotels such as the famous Hotel Negresco, apartment buildings and villas from the Belle Époque. The boulevard Promenade des Anglais, laid out between 1822 and 1824, is located on the south side of the Neustadt. The growth of the Russian community since the second half of the 19th century led to the construction of Orthodox churches such as the Church of Saint-Nicolas-et-Sainte-Alexandra or the Saint-Nicolas Cathedral.
The excavations of the Roman city can be visited on Mount Cimiez. There is also a Franciscan monastery with paintings by Jacques Bréa and the cemetery where Henri Matisse is buried.
After Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus, Corsica is the fourth largest Mediterranean island with an area of 8,679 km² and is located approx. 200 km southeast of Nice in the Ligurian Sea. The island of Corsica is a region of France with special status and is inhabited by around 330,000 people. The landscape of Corsica has predominantly high mountain character with 50 peaks over 200 m high, the highest mountain is the summit of the Monte Cinto massif at 2706 m above sea level. NN. The mountains allow unique views over the island, to the neighboring island of Sardinia and to the approx. 84 km distant Italian coast.
Corsica has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, humid winters. In the high mountains it is significantly cooler, so that winter sports are practiced in some high areas. Already in the end of winter, the macchia typical of Corsica blooms with lavender, gorse, rockrose, myrtle, tree heather and strawberry trees in bright colors, and an intense fragrance emanates from the island, which can also be perceived from the sea.
The largest cities through whose ports the island can be reached by travelers are Ajaccio and Bastia.
Because of the combination of winding mountain roads and breathtaking sea views, Corsica, which has not yet been fully developed for tourism, is a popular travel destination, especially for bikers, both motorized and muscular. Likewise, a long-distance hiking trail running through Corsica with numerous climbing parts attracts many ambitious hikers and climbers, whereby the bizarre rock formations known as “Tafoni” are extremely handy. The most famous climbing centers are the Restonica Valley and the Bavella Pass.