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France names capital cities for new regions

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France names capital cities for new regions
Here is the full list of the new proposed capitals. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP
14:43 CEST+02:00
French officials have revealed their suggestions for the capital cities of the country's newest regions. But not everyone is happy about the choices.

After decades of wrangling, French lawmakers finally voted just before Christmas to slash the number of regions in metropolitan France from 22 to 13. 

The map below shows where two, or sometimes three regions will be combined into one when the plan takes effect next year. 

And these new regions, which have been created with the aim of curbing bureaucracy, can boast capital cities as of Friday afternoon.

Well, provisional ones at least. Newly named capitals include: Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Dijon, Lille, Lyon, Rouen, and Toulouse.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls took to the steps of the National Assembly to stress that these were nothing but suggestions, and that "it is up to the regions to make their own choices".

Here is the full list of the proposed capitals, followed by a map showing the proposed capitals in red, and the nine that were overlooked in pink.

Aquitaine Limousin Poitou-Charentes: Bordeaux
Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine: Strasbourg
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: Lyon 
Bourgogne, Franche-Comté: Dijon 
Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrénées: Toulouse 
Normandie: Rouen 
Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Picardie: Lille 
Bretagne: Rennes 
Provence-Alpes, Côte-d'Azur: Marseille
Pays de la Loire: Nantes 
Centre, Val de Loire: Orléans 
Île-de-France: Paris
Corse: Ajaccio 
 
 
The announcement was not taken well by the mayor of Amiens, Brigitte Fouré. She told the Le Parisien newspaper that the choice was "a mistake",
 
Amiens is the current capital of Picardie in the north, but if the government's plan goes ahead, it will lose its status to Lille in bordering Nord-Pas-de-Calais. 
 
Fouré argued that similarly to other countries in the world, France should consider having a financial and political capital.
 
"I can only hope that common sense will prevail," she said.

Regional councils will have to approve the choices by October 1st next year.

While France has had the same municipal map since the 18th century, statistics agency Insee revealed in April this year that the regional mergers will do wonders to improve regional equality in terms of population numbers.

“None of the mainland regions will consist of fewer than two million inhabitants,” the agency said at the time.

Regional mergers will also bring different parts of France closer to parity in age distribution, said Insee, taking the fusion of Auvergne with Rhône-Alpes as an example of an ageing population joining forces with a younger cohort.

The graph below shows the population distribution of the new regions.

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