French Word of the Day: Métropole

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French Word of the Day: Métropole
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This French word might come up when learning about why France has 12 time zones.


Why do I need to know métropole?

Because you might be curious about this distinction that is sometimes made before talking about France.

What does it mean?

Métropole - roughly pronounced may-troh-pole - translates as ‘metropolis’ in English. 

Most of the time, you will hear this word from public figures, local officials and the French press when discussing the urban area encompassing a city. As such, you could talk about la métropole de Bordeaux or la métropole de Lyon - this is a defined area that includes both the city and its suburbs or sometimes even a neighbouring town.

Explained: How French métropoles, départements and communes work

It is also the term used to distinguish mainland France from its overseas territories, as such you might hear people say la France métropolitaine, or just la Métropole. This is similar to how people might use L'Hexagone to refer to mainland France, which is sort of shaped like a hexagon.


You may hear people discuss the situation in la Métropole to draw comparisons with France’s overseas territories (referred to as les DOM, départements d’outre-mer), particularly when it comes to issues of inequality. 

Use it like this

Le taux de chômage est plus élevé dans les DOM qu'en métropole -The rate of unemployment is higher in the overseas territories than in mainland France.

Elle est de la métropole, elle n'a jamais visité la Martinique. - She is from mainland France, she has never visited Martinique.

La France métropolitaine n'a qu'un seul fuseau horaire, mais si l'on considère les territoires d'outre-mer, il y a 12 fuseaux horaires français. - Mainland France is only under one timezone, but when you consider the overseas territories there are 12 French time zones.


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