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MAP: Where France's population is rising - and where it's falling

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MAP: Where France's population is rising - and where it's falling
Montpellier, in the Hérault. (Photo by Sylvain THOMAS / AFP)

France's steady population growth and the areas that are growing and shrinking - it's all revealed in the latest data from the French national statistics agency.


The population of France grew by the equivalent of the city of Reims every year between 2015 and 2021, although the latest figures from national statistics agency Insee indicate a slowdown in growth.

As of January 1st, 2021, the population of France was 67,408,000, newly published stats show, showing an average increase of 203,000 per year, or 0.3 percent, down on the 0.5 percent growth seen between 2010 and 2015.

The data breaks down to commune level, so you can see how many people live in your village/town, and whether it has grown or shrunk in the last seven years - click here, then scroll down to 'Votre commune a-t-elle gagné ou perdu des habitants ?' and type in the name or your commune or the postcode.

The overall population slowdown is, “due to a weaker contribution from the natural balance (the difference between births and deaths) in all regions except French Guiana," according to Insee.

The Covid-19 pandemic, an ageing population and falling birth rate were the chief cause of the unusually low difference between births and deaths, it said.


France’s birth rate continues to be low – in 2023, the number of recorded births was at its lowest since the end of the Second World War.

Nor is population growth uniform across the country.

In 23 départements – including Nièvre, Cantal, Vosges and Orne – the population is falling. Many of the areas with a falling population are already among the most sparsely populated parts of the country, where a lack of jobs and opportunities have seen younger people moving away.

However other areas – such as the Bordeaux département of Gironde, the Paris suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis and the Alpine area of Haute-Savoie – have seen growth of between 0.8 percent and 1.6 percent.

Paris itself has been seeing a steady fall in population - which many say is linked to rising prices that drive locals out of the city. However, almost 9 in 10 people who move out of Paris only go as far as the suburbs - all of the départements surrounding Paris have seen a rise in population.

The départements of Meuse and Haute-Marne in the east experienced a more marked decline in their population than elsewhere, while the number of inhabitants has increased most significantly in the southern areas of Haute-Garonne (which includes Toulouse) and Hérault (which includes Montpellier).

“Population growth is twice as high in urban areas (+0.4 percent) as in rural areas (+0.2 percent)”, Insee said, but noted that, “strong demographic growth is concentrated in a smaller number of départements than before, around Paris, along the Atlantic coast, in the south and the Rhône corridor”.

The data also confirmed that the French are now a thoroughly urban population - as of January 1st, 2021, 45 million people lived in urban areas, while nearly 22 million people lived in rural areas. 


Meanwhile, compared to the previous five-year period, population growth is lower in all departments, except Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Lot, Lozère and Hautes-Pyrénées – where migratory growth rather than natural balance has boosted the rise in numbers, Insee said.


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