Why has France bid adieu to ‘Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur’?

You'll never have to use the acronym PACA again after the name of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region was changed by officials. But what's motivated the move?

Why has France bid adieu to 'Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur'?

The region which stretches from the French Riviera up into the high Alps is better known by its acronym PACA. 

But not anymore.

The regional council has just voted unanimously to change the name of the region. From now on it will be known as just “Region Sud” although it's full name will be “Region Sud Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur”.

The president of the region Renaud Muselier, who has long detested the acronym PACA “because it means nothing and devalues the region” believes the change to Region Sud will help boost the image of the region.

“Our territory is the sun, the sea, the mountains, the good living. It was essential to give our region a name that values ​​all our assets: the south,” the president of the region tweeted after the council backed the name change.

Muselier says the acronym PACA had “lost all its meaning to the public on a regional, national and international level”.

“Provence-Alpes-Côtes d'Azur is complicated to say so 'Region Sud' works much better,” he told Nice Matin.

The name change comes a year after several other regions in France changed their names after the government redrew the administrative map of France when it cut the number of regions from 22 to 13.

New regions included Hauts de France in the north, Grand Est in the east and Occitanie in the south west.

Muselier noted that no region chose the word “sud” (south) as part of is new name.

“So I took it,” he said.

He believes the name Region Sud is associated with the three “world brands” that are “Provence, Alpes and Côte d'Azur”. He believes it will boost “the international influence and recognition of our territory”.

“It's obvious, everyone thinks of the 'south' when they think of our region and not PACA”, read the text of the motion that was passed by the regional council.

“The 'south' induces a very positive image: the good life, the light, the landscapes of dreams…”.


French town of Nantes votes for referendum on exiting Pays-de-la-Loire region

The French city of Nantes is to hold a referendum on exiting the Pays-de-la-Loire region and becoming part of Brittany instead.

French town of Nantes votes for referendum on exiting Pays-de-la-Loire region
Photo: AFP

On Friday the town council of Nantes voted in favour of requesting the French government organise a referendum so local people can have their say about whether they wish to remain in the Pays-de-la-Loire region or become part of Brittany – a region that many say the town has more historic and cultural connections to.

The vote on Friday was carried by 56 votes and concerns whether the département of Loire-Atlantique – which contains Nantes – should move regions.

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The vote follows a petition in 2018 which gathered 105,000 signatures.

Nantes mayor Johanna Rolland said: “This strong citizen mobilisation cannot be ignored. It reflects the aspiration of our fellow citizens to be consulted to a greater extent, in a context of essential revitalisation of our democracy.”

The desire of people in the Loire-Atlantique to become Breton isn't new.
The départment was part of Brittany until World War II, when it was separated and made part of the neighbouring region by the Vichy government. That region eventually became the Pays-de-la-Loire in 1955.
The issue has been simmering since then and pro-Breton voices have become louder in recent years as they hope to take advantage of a law that allows départments to chose which region they belong to via a referendum.
The town, which is the historic seat of the Dukes of Brittany, also declared its intention to  “set up a permanent pluralist body to engage in a genuine consultation with the State on the organisation of this referendum, organise an in-depth debate on the issues and consequences of a redistribution in order to feed the citizen debate, and formulate proposals to strengthen cooperation between Nantes and the other Breton territories”. 
However the referendum will have to be approved by both the national government and the regional authorities.

France's regions were reorganised in 2016 and several were merged to create the current 13 regions of mainland France.

Brittany currently covers four départements – Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes-d'Armor, Finistère and Morbihan – while Pays-de-la-Loire covers Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe and Vendée. Nantes is currently the largest town in the region.