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Région Pays-de-la-Loire
(Région flag) (Région logo)
Capital Nantes
Area 32,082 km²
Regional President Jacques Auxiette
(PS) (since 2004)
  – 2004 estimate
  – 1999 census
  – Density
(Ranked 5th)
104/km² (2004)
Arrondissements 17
Cantons 192
Communes 1,503
Départements Loire-Atlantique

Pays-de-la-Loire is one of the 26 régions of France. It is one of these régions of France created artificially in the late 20th century to serve as an hinterland and zone of influence for its capital, Nantes, one of a handful so-called "balancing metropolises" (métropoles d'équilibre)¹. Other examples of artificially created régions include Rhône-Alpes, which was created as the région for Lyon, and Midi-Pyrénées, which was created as the région for Toulouse.

Pays-de-la-Loire is made up of the following historical provinces:

  • a part of Brittany, with its old capital Nantes: Loire-Atlantique département. This is only 20% of Brittany. The other 80% of Brittany make up the région of Bretagne.
  • Anjou: Maine-et-Loire département. The whole of the fomer province of Anjou is contained inside Pays-de-la-Loire.
  • Maine: Mayenne and Sarthe départements. The whole of the fomer province of Maine is contained inside Pays-de-la-Loire.
  • a part of Poitou: Vendée département. Most of the old province of Poitou is inside the Poitou-Charentes région.
  • a part of Perche: northeast of Sarthe département. The rest of Perche is inside the Lower Normandy and Centre régions.
  • a small part of Touraine: southeast of Maine-et-Loire département. Most of the former province of Tourraine is inside the Centre région.

Consequently, the name of the région, chosen by the French central government, was not based on history, but purely on geographical references: Pays (i.e. "lands") -de-la-Loire (i.e. "of the Loire River"). It should be noted that the world famous châteaux of the Loire Valley are located in the Centre région, and not inside Pays-de-la-Loire, despite the confusing name.

There are some people in the département of Loire-Atlantique and in the région of Bretagne who are unhappy with the division of Brittany between two régions and who would like to have Loire-Atlantique enter the Bretagne région in order to reunify Brittany. So far, however, a change in the région boundaries is not on the agenda, as the tough issue of what to do with the rump Pays-de-la-Loire deprived of its capital and 21% of its territory seems hard to resolve.

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¹ In the 1960s, eight large regional cities of France (Lille, Nancy, Strasbourg, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux, Marseille, Toulouse) were made "balancing metropolises", receiving special financial and technical help from the French government in order to counterbalance the excessive weight of Paris inside France.

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