Arrondissements of France

Arrondissements of France
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This article is part of the series on
Administrative divisions of France

(incl. overseas regions)

(incl. overseas departments)


Urban communities
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Clipperton Island

The 101 French departments are divided into 342 arrondissements,[1] which may be translated into English as districts.[2]

The capital of an arrondissement/district is called a subprefecture. When an arrondissement contains the prefecture (capital) of the department, that prefecture is the capital of the arrondissement, acting both as a prefecture and as a subprefecture.

Arrondissements are further divided into cantons and communes.

The cities of Paris, Lyon and Marseille are also divided into municipal arrondissements, not to be confused with the arrondissements addressed in this article.


Role and administration

The administration of an arrondissement is assigned to a subprefect (French: sous-préfet) who assists the departmental prefect (préfet).

Unlike French regions, departments and communes, arrondissements do not have the status of legal entity in public law. In addition, unlike those other administrative divisions, they are not run by elected officials, but by political appointees, officials appointed by the French president.


The concept of arrondissements was proposed several times as an administrative reform during the Ancien Régime, notably by the intendant of the généralité of Brittany, Caze de La Bove, in his Mémoire concernant les subdélégués de l'intendance de Bretagne in 1775.

The arrondissements were created after the French Revolution by the Loi du 28 pluviôse in the year VIII of the Republican Calendar (17 February 1800) and replaced "districts". In certain periods in French history, they have served a role in legislative elections, especially during the Third Republic. In 1926, 106 arrondissements were suppressed by the govern.[3][4] While it claimed it was to achieve fiscal savings, some political analysts considered the results electoral manipulation. Some of these suppressed arrondissements were restored in 1942.


Most departments have only three or four arrondissements. The departments of Paris and of the Territory of Belfort have only one, while the Moselle department has nine.


  1. ^ Number of arrondissements per region on the official French Statistics organization INSEE
  2. ^ André de Laubadère, Jean-Claude Vénézia, Yves Gaudemet, Traité de droit administratif, 12th edition, LGDJ, 1992, vol. 1, nr 168-169
  3. ^ Nicolas Verdier, La réforme des arrondissements de 1926 : un choix d'intervention entre espace et territoire, online
  4. ^ List of the arrondissements suppressed in 1926

See also

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