“Occitania” and “Nouvelle-Aquitaine” complete the list of names of new French regions (so far)

The final decision to be taken by Council of State, which will decide after summer

“Occitania” and “Nouvelle-Aquitaine” are the last names that have been passed by regional councils to rename the regions of France. Thus, all the new regions formed after the 2014 territorial reform now have a denomination. But those names might not be the final ones, as the Council of State must take a final decision on them after the summer.

Greater Occitania and Lesser Occitania

If the Council of State agrees to the name proposed for the merger of the former regions of Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon, a confusion might arise as to whether “Occitania” refers to the whole Occitan country -from the Atlantic to the Alps- or rather to the new region -just the central Occitan area, more or less including 35% of the total Occitan-speaking lands.

Furthermore, the new region to be named “Occitania” also includes Northern Catalonia within its borders. The North Catalan movement has been demanding – with no success so far- that the name includes some reference to the Catalan area.

The remaining 65% of so-to-say Greater Occitania will be included within the borders of another three regions: Nouvelle-Aquitaine, which merges the previous Occitan regions of Aquitaine and Limousin with Poitou-Charentes; Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, which includes the Occitan-speaking lands of Auvergne and parts of Languedoc and Dauphiné; and finally Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, which has the same borders as it had before 2014.

Alsace a part of Grand-Est

Alsace is no longer an official region of France since the French National Assembly decided to merge it with Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne. The name chosen for the new macro-region is “Grand-Est” after an online vote in which other proposals were rejected, such as “New Austrasia” -a name recalling Merovingian times- or “Rhin-Champagne”, which sought to reflect both the eastern and western halves of the new region.

Alsatian party Unser Land has voiced deep dissatisfaction with the merger, and has been calling -with no success- for Alsace to be granted its own, autonomous status.

Brittany and Corsica stay the same

The 2014 map did not introduce any changes in relation to Brittany and Corsica. The Breton movement has been for decades asking for a redesign in the borders of Brittany so that the department of Loire-Atlantique be reintegrated into it. The French state has rejected such a change so far.

Historical place names: Normandy, Ile de France, Burgundy-Franche-Comté

The two former Normandy’s regions have been merged into one, which is set to keep the historic denomination of “Normandy”. The same goes for the new region of Burgundy-Franche-Comté, after an internet vote that ruled out alternative proposals such as “Sequania”, after an ancient Celtic people of the region. The Paris region is also keeping its current and historical name “Ile de France”.

Two regions in the Loire valley

Finally, the two regions located in middle and lower Loire are keeping their borders unchanged, but one of their names was altered in 2015. The Orleans region, which was called “Centre” until last year, is now called “Centre-Loire Valley.” Conversely, the Angers-centered region keeps its former name, “Pays de la Loire”. The historically Breton department of Loire-Atlantique is part of that region.

Several Breton parties and groups are calling for a demonstration on September 24 in Nantes to ask the Departmental Council of Loire-Atlantique to initiate the procedure known as “droit d’option”, or “right of option”, by which any given department can change region starting from 2016. The procedure will be in effect until 2019.

The Breton movement is now trying to collect at least 100,000 signatures to force the Departmental Council of Loire-Atlantique to include the issue on its agenda. However, the Regional Council of the Pays de la Loire will always have the final say. It might well prevent Loire-Atlantique from joining Brittany even against the will of the inhabitants of the department.

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