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Others in Overseas France Overseas collectivities Sui generis collectivity Overseas country Overseas territory Clipperton Island

The commune (French pronunciation: ​[kɔmyn]) is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States
United States
or Gemeinden in Germany. The United Kingdom has no exact equivalent, as communes resemble districts in urban areas, but are closer to parishes in rural areas where districts are much larger. Communes are based on historical geographic communities or villages and have received significant powers of governance to manage the populations and land of the geographic area covered. The communes are the fourth-level administrative divisions of France. Communes vary wildly in size and area, from large sprawling cities with millions of inhabitants like Paris, to small hamlets with only a handful of inhabitants. Communes typically are based on pre-existing villages and facilitate local governance. All communes have names, but not all named geographic areas or groups of people residing together are communes ("lieu dit" or "bourg"), the difference residing in the lack of administrative powers. Except for the municipal arrondissements of its largest cities, the communes are the lowest level of administrative division in France
France
and are governed by elected officials (mayor and a "conseil municipal") with extensive autonomous powers to implement national policy.

Contents

1 Terminology

1.1 Number of communes 1.2 Surface area of a typical commune 1.3 Population of a typical commune 1.4 An example: Alsace 1.5 Status of the communes

2 History of the French communes

2.1 Kingdom of France

2.1.1 Parishes 2.1.2 Chartered Cities

2.2 French Revolution 2.3 Trends after the French Revolution 2.4 Current debate 2.5 Intercommunality

2.5.1 Allocation of government money

3 Miscellaneous facts

3.1 Most and least populous communes 3.2 Largest and smallest commune territories 3.3 Communes farthest away from the capital city of France 3.4 Shortest and longest commune names 3.5 Communes with non-French names

4 Classification 5 Administration 6 See also 7 References 8 External links

Terminology[edit] A commune is a town, city, or other municipality. "Commune" in English has a historical bias, and implies an association with socialist political movements or philosophies, collectivist lifestyles, or particular history (after the rising of the Paris
Paris
Commune, 1871, which could have more felicitously been called, in English, "the rising of the City of Paris"). There is nothing intrinsically different between "town" in English and commune in French. The French word commune appeared in the 12th century, from Medieval Latin
Latin
communia, for a large gathering of people sharing a common life; from Latin
Latin
communis, 'things held in common'. Number of communes[edit] As of January 2015, there were 36,681 communes in France, 36,552 of them in metropolitan France
France
and 129 of them overseas.[1][2] This is a considerably higher total than that of any other European country, because French communes still largely reflect the division of France into villages or parishes at the time of the French Revolution.

Evolution of the number of communes[3]

Metropolitan France(1) Overseas France(2)

March 1861 37,510 n/a

March 1866 37,548 n/a

6 March 1921 37,963 n/a

7 March 1926 37,981 n/a

8 March 1931 38,004 n/a

8 March 1936 38,014 n/a

1 January 1947 37,983 n/a

10 May 1954 38,000 n/a

7 March 1962 37,962 n/a

1 March 1968 37,708 n/a

1 January 1971 37,659 n/a

20 February 1975 36,394 n/a

1 January 1978 36,382 n/a

Metropolitan France(1) Overseas France(2)

1 March 1982 36,433 211

1 March 1985 36,631 211

1 March 1990 36,551 212

1 January 1999 36,565 214

1 January 2000 36,567 214

1 January 2001 36,564 214

1 January 2002 36,566 214

1 January 2003 36,565 214

1 January 2004 36,569 214

1 January 2005 36,571 214

1 January 2006 36,572 214

1 January 2007 36,570 214

1 January 2008 36,569 212

(1) Within the current limits of metropolitan France, which existed between 1860 and 1871 and from 1919 to today. (2) Within the current extent of overseas France, which has remained unchanged since the independence of the New Hebrides
New Hebrides
in 1980.

Map of the 36,569 communes of metropolitan France

The whole territory of the French Republic is divided into communes; even uninhabited mountains or rain forests are dependent on a commune for their administration. This is unlike some other countries, such as the United States, where unincorporated areas directly governed by a county or a higher authority can be found. There are only a few exceptions:

COM (collectivité d'outre-mer, i.e. overseas collectivity) of Saint-Martin (33,102 inhabitants). It was previously a commune inside the Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
région. The commune structure was abolished when Saint-Martin became an overseas collectivity on 22 February 2007. COM of Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna
(14,944 inhabitants), which still is divided according to the three traditional chiefdoms. COM of Saint-Barthélemy
Saint-Barthélemy
(6,852 inhabitants). It was previously a commune inside the Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
region. The commune structure was abolished when Saint-Barthélemy
Saint-Barthélemy
became an overseas collectivity on 22 February 2007.

Furthermore, two regions without permanent habitation have no communes:

TOM (territoire d'outre-mer, i.e. overseas territory) of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (no permanent population, about 200 resident scientists, soldiers and meteorologists) Clipperton Island
Clipperton Island
in the Pacific Ocean (uninhabited)

Surface area of a typical commune[edit] In metropolitan France, the average area of a commune in 2004 was 14.88 square kilometres (5.75 sq mi). The median area of metropolitan France's communes at the 1999 census was even smaller, at 10.73 square kilometres (4.14 sq mi). The median area is a better measure of the area of a typical French commune. This median area is smaller than that of most European countries. In Italy, the median area of communes (comuni) is 22 km2 (8.5 sq mi); in Belgium
Belgium
it is 40 km2 (15 sq mi); in Spain
Spain
it is 35 km2 (14 sq mi); and in Germany, the majority of Länder have communes (Gemeinden) with a median area above 15 km2 (5.8 sq mi). Switzerland
Switzerland
and the Länder of Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia in Germany
Germany
were the only places in Europe where the communes had a smaller median area than in France. The communes of France's overseas départements such as Réunion
Réunion
and French Guiana
French Guiana
are large by French standards. They usually group into the same commune several villages or towns, often with sizeable distances among them. In Réunion, demographic expansion and sprawling urbanization have resulted in the administrative splitting of some communes. Population of a typical commune[edit] The median population of metropolitan France's communes at the 1999 census was 380 inhabitants. Again this is a very small number, and here France
France
stands absolutely apart in Europe, with the lowest communes' median population of all the European countries (communes in Switzerland
Switzerland
or Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
may have a smaller surface area, as mentioned above, but they are more populated). This small median population of French communes can be compared with Italy, where the median population of communes in 2001 was 2,343 inhabitants, Belgium (11,265 inhabitants), or even Spain
Spain
(564 inhabitants). The median population given here should not hide the fact that there are pronounced differences in size between French communes. As mentioned in the introduction, a commune can be a city of 2 million inhabitants such as Paris, a town of 10,000 inhabitants, or just a hamlet of 10 inhabitants. What the median population tells us is that the vast majority of the French communes only have a few hundred inhabitants; but there are also a small number of communes within much higher populations. In metropolitan France
France
just over 50 percent (57 percent) of the 36,569 communes have fewer than 500 inhabitants and, with 4,638,000 inhabitants, these smaller communes constitute just under 8 percent (7.7 percent) of the total population. In other words, just 8 percent of the French population live in 57 percent of its communes, whilst 92 percent are concentrated in the remaining 43 percent. An example: Alsace[edit] Alsace, with an area of 8,280 km2 (3,200 sq mi), and now part of the Région Grand Est, used to be the smallest of the regions of metropolitan France, and still has no fewer than 904 communes. This high number is typical of metropolitan France
France
but is atypical when compared with other European countries. It shows the distinctive nature of the French commune as a geo-political or administrative entity. With its 904 communes, Alsace
Alsace
has three times as many municipalities as Sweden, which has a much larger territory covering 449,964 km2 (173,732 sq mi) and yet is divided into only 290 municipalities (kommuner). Alsace
Alsace
has more than double the total number of municipalities of the Netherlands
Netherlands
which, in spite of having a population nine times larger and a land area four times larger than Alsace, is divided into just 390 municipalities (gemeenten). Most of the communes in Alsace, along with those in other regions of France, have rejected the central government's calls for mergers and rationalization. By way of contrast, in the German states bordering Alsace, the geo-political and administrative areas have been subject to various re-organizations from the 1960s onward. In the state of Baden-Württemberg, the number of Gemeinden or communities was reduced from 3,378 in 1968[4] to 1,108 in September 2007.[5] In comparison, the number of communes in Alsace
Alsace
was only reduced from 945 in 1971[6][7] (just before the Marcellin law aimed at encouraging French communes to merge with each other was passed, see Current debate section below) to 904 in January 2007. Consequently, the Alsace
Alsace
region - despite having a land area only one-fifth the size and a total population only one-sixth of that of its neighbor Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg
- has almost as many municipalities. The small Alsace
Alsace
region has more than double the number of municipalities compared to the large and populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
(396 Gemeinden in September 2007). Status of the communes[edit] Despite enormous differences in population, each of the communes of the French Republic possess a mayor (maire) and a municipal council (conseil municipal), which jointly manage the commune from the city hall (mairie), with exactly the same powers no matter the size of the commune. (The city of Paris
Paris
is the only exception; there the local police are in the hands of the central state, not those of the mayor of Paris.) This uniformity of status is a legacy of the French Revolution, which wanted to do away with the local idiosyncrasies and tremendous differences of status that existed in the kingdom of France. French law makes allowances for the vast differences in commune size in a number of areas of administrative law. The size of the municipal council, the method of electing the municipal council, the maximum allowable pay of the mayor and deputy mayors, and municipal campaign finance limits (among other features) all depend on the population echelon into which a particular commune falls. Since the PLM Law of 1982, three French communes also have a special status in that they are further divided into municipal arrondissements: these are Paris, Marseille, and Lyon. The municipal arrondissement is the only administrative unit below the commune in the French Republic, but existing only in these three communes. These municipal arrondissements are not to be confused with the arrondissements that are subdivisions of French départements: French communes are considered legal entities, whereas municipal arrondissements, by contrast, have no official capacity and no budget of their own. The rights and obligations of communes are governed by the Code général des collectivités territoriales (CGCT) which replaced the Code des communes (except for personnel matters) with the passage of the law of 21 February 1996 for legislation and decree number 2000-318 of 7 April 2000 for regulations.[8][9] From 1794 to 1977—except for a few months in 1848 and 1870-1871— Paris
Paris
had no mayor and was thus directly controlled by the departmental prefect. This meant that Paris
Paris
had less autonomy than the smallest village. History of the French communes[edit] French communes were created at the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789-1790. Kingdom of France[edit] Parishes[edit] Before the revolution, France's lowest level of administrative division was the parish (paroisse), and there were up to 60,000 of them in the kingdom. A parish was essentially a church, the houses around it (known as the village), and the cultivated land around the village. France
France
was the most populous country in Europe at this time, with a population of approximately 25 million inhabitants in the late 18th century ( England
England
in contrast had only 6 million inhabitants), which accounts for the large number of parishes. French kings often prided themselves on ruling over a "realm of 100,000 steeples". Parishes lacked the municipal structures of post-Revolution communes. Usually, one contained only a building committee (conseil de fabrique), made up of villagers, which managed the buildings of the parish church, the churchyard, and the other numerous church estates and properties, and sometimes also provided help for the poor, or even administered parish hospitals or schools. Since the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts of 1539 by Francis I, the priest in charge of the parish was also required to record baptisms, marriages, and burials. Except for these tasks, villages were left to handle other issues as they pleased. Typically, villagers would gather to decide over a special issue regarding the community, such as agricultural land usage, but there existed no permanent municipal body. In many places, the local feudal lord (seigneur) still had a major influence in the village’s affairs, collecting taxes from tenant-villagers and ordering them to work the corvée, controlling which fields were to be used and when, and how much of the harvest should be given to him. Chartered Cities[edit] Additionally some cities had obtained charters during the Middle Ages, either from the king himself, or from local counts or dukes (such as the city of Toulouse
Toulouse
chartered by the counts of Toulouse). These cities were made up of several parishes (up to ca. 50 parishes in the case of Paris), and they were usually enclosed by a defensive wall. They had been emancipated from the power of feudal lords in the 12th and 13th centuries, had municipal bodies which administered the city, and bore some resemblance with the communes that the French Revolution would establish except for two key points:

these municipal bodies were not democratic; they were usually in the hands of some rich bourgeois families upon whom, over time, nobility had been conferred, so they can be better labeled as oligarchies rather than municipal democracies. there was no uniform status for these chartered cities, each one having its own status and specific organization.

In the north, cities tended to be administered by échevins (from an old Germanic word meaning judge), while in the south, cities tended to be administered by consuls (in a clear reference to Roman antiquity), but Bordeaux
Bordeaux
was administered by jurats (etymologically meaning "sworn men") and Toulouse
Toulouse
by capitouls ("men of the chapter"). Usually, there was no mayor in the modern sense; all the échevins or consuls were on equal footing, and rendered decisions collegially. However, for certain purposes there was one échevin or consul ranking above the others, a sort of mayor, although not with the same authority and executive powers as a modern mayor. This "mayor" was called provost of the merchants (prévôt des marchands) in Paris
Paris
and Lyon; maire in Marseille, Bordeaux, Rouen, Orléans, Bayonne
Bayonne
and many other cities and towns; mayeur in Lille; premier capitoul in Toulouse; viguier in Montpellier; premier consul in many towns of southern France; prêteur royal in Strasbourg; maître échevin in Metz; maire royal in Nancy; or prévôt in Valenciennes. French Revolution[edit] On 14 July 1789, at the end of the afternoon, following the storming of the Bastille, the provost of the merchants of Paris, Jacques de Flesselles, was shot by the crowd on the steps of Paris
Paris
City Hall. Although in the Middle Ages the provosts of the merchants symbolized the independence of Paris
Paris
and even had openly rebelled against King Charles V, their office had been suppressed by the king, then reinstated but with strict control from the king, and so they had ended up being viewed by the people as yet another representative of the king, no longer the embodiment of a free municipality. Following that event, a "commune" of Paris
Paris
was immediately set up to replace the old medieval chartered city of Paris, and a municipal guard was established to protect Paris
Paris
against any attempt made by King Louis XVI to quell the ongoing revolution. Several other cities of France
France
quickly followed suit, and communes arose everywhere, each with their municipal guard. On 14 December 1789, the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) passed a law creating the commune, designed to be the lowest level of administrative division in France, thus endorsing these independently created communes, but also creating communes of its own. In this area as in many others, the work of the National Assembly was, properly speaking, revolutionary: not content with transforming all the chartered cities and towns into communes, the National Assembly also decided to turn all the village parishes into full-status communes. The Revolutionaries were inspired by Cartesian ideas as well as by the philosophy of the Enlightenment. They wanted to do away with all the peculiarities of the past and establish a perfect society, in which all and everything should be equal and set up according to reason, rather than by tradition or conservatism. Thus, they set out to establish administrative divisions that would be uniform across the country: the whole of France
France
would be divided into départements, themselves divided into arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons, themselves divided into communes, no exceptions. All of these communes would have equal status, they would all have a mayor at their head, and a municipal council elected by the inhabitants of the commune. This was a real revolution for the thousands of villages that never had experienced organized municipal life before. A communal house had to be built in each of these villages, which would house the meetings of the municipal council as well as the administration of the commune. Some in the National Assembly were opposed to such a fragmentation of France
France
into thousands of communes, but eventually Mirabeau and his ideas of one commune for each parish prevailed. On 20 September 1792, the recording of births, marriages, and deaths also was withdrawn as a responsibility of the priests of the parishes and handed to the mayors. Civil marriages were established and started to be performed in the mairie with a ceremony not unlike the traditional one, with the mayor replacing the priest, and the name of the law replacing the name of God ("Au nom de la loi, je vous déclare unis par les liens du mariage." – "In the name of the law, I declare you united by the bonds of marriage."). Priests were forced to surrender their centuries-old baptism, marriage, and burial books, which were deposited in the mairies. These abrupt changes profoundly alienated devout Catholics, and France
France
soon was plunged into the throes of civil war, with the fervently religious regions of western France
France
at its center. It would take Napoleon I
Napoleon I
to re-establish peace in France, stabilize the new administrative system, and make it generally accepted by the population. Napoleon also abolished the election of the municipal councils, which now were chosen by the prefect, the local representative of the central government. Trends after the French Revolution[edit] Today, French communes are still very much the same in their general principles as those that were established at the beginning of the Revolution. The biggest changes occurred in 1831, when the French Parliament re-established the principle of the election of municipal councils, and in 1837 when French communes were given legal "personality," being now considered legal entities with legal capacity. The Jacobin revolutionaries were afraid of independent local powers, which they saw as conservative and opposed to the revolution, and so they favored a powerful central state. Therefore, when they created the communes, they deprived them of any legal "personality" (as they did with the départements), with only the central state having legal "personality." By 1837 that situation was judged impractical, as mayors and municipal councils could not be parties in courts. The consequence of the change, however, was that tens of thousands of villages which had never had legal "personality" (contrary to the chartered cities) suddenly became legal entities for the first time in their history. This is still the case today. During the revolution, approximately 41,000 communes were created,[10] on territory corresponding to the limits of modern-day France
France
(the 41,000 figure includes the communes of the departments of Savoie, Haute- Savoie
Savoie
and Alpes-Maritimes
Alpes-Maritimes
which were annexed in 1795, but does not include the departments of modern-day Belgium
Belgium
and Germany
Germany
west of the Rhine, which were part of France
France
between 1795 and 1815). This was fewer than the 60,000 parishes that existed before the revolution (in cities and towns, parishes were merged into one single commune; in the countryside, some very small parishes were merged with bigger ones), but 41,000 was still a considerable number, without any comparison in the world at the time, except in the empire of China
China
(but there, only county level and above had any permanent administration). Since then, tremendous changes have affected France, as they have the rest of Europe: the Industrial Revolution, two world wars, and the rural exodus have all depopulated the countryside and increased the size of cities. French administrative divisions, however, have remained extremely rigid and unchanged. Today about 90 percent of communes and departments are exactly the same as those designed at the time of the French Revolution
French Revolution
more than 200 years ago, with the same limits. Countless rural communes that had hundreds of inhabitants at the time of the French Revolution
French Revolution
now have only a hundred inhabitants or fewer. On the other hand, cities and towns have grown so much that their urbanized area is now extending far beyond the limits of their commune which were set at the time of the revolution. The most extreme example of this is Paris, where the urbanized area sprawls over 396 communes. Paris
Paris
in fact was one of the very few communes of France
France
whose limits were extended to take into account the expansion of the urbanized area. The new, larger, commune of Paris
Paris
was set up under the oversight of Emperor Napoléon III
Napoléon III
in 1859, but after 1859 the limits of Paris rigidified. Unlike most other European countries, which stringently merged their communes to better reflect modern-day densities of population (such as Germany
Germany
and Italy
Italy
around 1970), dramatically decreasing the number of communes in the process – the Gemeinden of West Germany
Germany
were decreased from 24,400 to 8,400 in the space of a few years – France
France
only carried out mergers at the margin, and those were mostly carried out during the 19th century. From 41,000 communes at the time of the French Revolution, the number decreased to 37,963 in 1921, to 36,569 in 2008 (in metropolitan France). Thus, in Europe, only Switzerland
Switzerland
has as high a density of communes as France, and even there an extensive merger movement has started in the last 10 years. To better grasp the staggering number of communes in France, two comparisons can be made: First, of the original 15 member states of the European Union
European Union
there are approximately 75,000 communes; France
France
alone, which comprises 16 percent of the population of the EU-15, had nearly half of its communes. Second, the United States, with a territory fourteen times larger than that of the French Republic, and nearly five times its population, had 35,937 incorporated municipalities and townships at the 2002 Census of Governments, fewer than that of the French Republic. Current debate[edit] There have long been calls in France
France
for a massive merger of communes, including by such distinguished voices as the president of the Cour des Comptes (the central auditing administrative body in France). So far, however, local conservatism has been strong, and no mandatory merging proposal ever has made it past committee in the French Parliament. In 1971 the Marcellin law offered support and money from the government to entice the communes to merge freely with each other, but the law had only a limited effect (only about 1,300 communes agreed to merge with others). Many rural communes with few residents struggle to maintain and manage basic services such as running water, garbage collection, or properly paved communal roads. Mergers, however, are not easy to achieve. One problem is that mergers reduce the number of available elected positions, and thus are not popular with local politicians. Moreover, citizens from one village may be unwilling to have their local services run by an executive located in another village, whom they may consider unaware of or inattentive to their local needs. Intercommunality[edit] The expression "intercommunality" (intercommunalité) denotes several forms of cooperation between communes. Such cooperation first made its appearance at the end of the 19th century in the form of a law on 22 March 1890, which provided for the establishment of single-purpose intercommunal associations. French lawmakers having long been aware of the inadequacy of the communal structure inherited from the French Revolution for dealing with a number of practical matters, the so-called Chevènement law of 12 July 1999 is the most recent and most thoroughgoing measure aimed at strengthening and simplifying this principle. In recent years it has become increasingly common for communes to band together in intercommunal consortia for the provision of such services as refuse collection and water supply. Suburban communes often team up with the city at the core of their urban area to form a community charged with managing public transport or even administering the collection of local taxes. The Chevènement law tidied up all these practices, abolishing some structures and creating new ones. In addition, it offered central government finance aimed at encouraging further communes to join together in intercommunal structures. Unlike the only partially successful statute enacted in 1966 and enabling urban communes to form urban communities, or the more marked failure of the Marcellin law of 1971, the Chevènement law met with a large measure of success, so that a majority of French communes are now involved in intercommunal structures. There are two types of these structures:

Those without fiscal power, the loosest form of intercommunality. Mainly in this category are the traditional syndicates of communes. Communes gather and contribute financially to the syndicate, but the syndicate cannot levy its own taxes. Communes can leave the syndicate at any time. Syndicates can be set up for a particular purpose or to deal with several simultaneous matters. These structures have been left untouched by the Chevènement law, and they are on the decline. Structures with fiscal power. This is what the Chevènement law was concerned with, and it distinguished three structures with fiscal power:

the community of communes (communauté de communes), aimed primarily at rural communes; the community of agglomeration (communauté d'agglomération), aimed at towns and middle-sized cities and their suburbs; the urban community (communauté urbaine), aimed at larger cities and their suburbs. the metropolis (métropole), established in 2014, aimed at the largest cities and their suburbs.

These three structures are given varying levels of fiscal power, with the community of agglomeration and the urban community having most fiscal power, levying the local tax on corporations (taxe professionnelle) in their own name instead of those of the communes, and with the same level of taxation across the communes of the community. The communities must also manage some services previously performed by the communes, such as garbage collection or transport, but the law also makes it mandatory for the communities to manage other areas such as economic planning and development, housing projects, or environment protection. Communities of communes are required to manage the least number of areas, leaving the communes more autonomous, while urban communities are required to manage most matters, leaving the communes within them with less autonomy.

Allocation of government money[edit] In exchange for the creation of a community, the government allocates money to them based on their population, thus providing an incentive for the communes to team up and form communities. Communities of communes are given the least amount of money per inhabitant, whereas urban communities are given the most amount of money per inhabitant, thus pushing the communes to form more integrated communities where they have fewer powers, which they might otherwise have been loath to do if it were not for government money. The Chevènement law has been extremely successful in the sense that a majority of French communes now have joined the new intercommunal structures. On 1 January 2007, there were 2,573 such communities in metropolitan France
France
(including five syndicats d'agglomération nouvelle, a category currently being phased out), made up of 33,327 communes (91.1 percent of all the communes of metropolitan France), and 52.86 million inhabitants, i.e. 86.7 percent of the population of metropolitan France.[11] These impressive results however may hide a murkier reality. In rural areas, many communes have entered a community of communes only to benefit from government funds. Often the local syndicate has been turned officially into a community of communes, the new community of communes in fact managing only the services previously managed by the syndicate, contrary to the spirit of the law which has established the new intercommunal structures to carry out a much broader range of activities than that undertaken by the old syndicates. Some say that, should government money transfers be stopped, many of these communities of communes would revert to their former status of syndicate, or simply completely disappear in places where there were no syndicates prior to the law.[citation needed] In urban areas, the new intercommunal structures are much more a reality, being created by local decision-makers out of genuine belief in the worth of working together. However, in many places local feuds have arisen, and it was not possible to set up an intercommunal structure for the whole of the urban area: some communes refusing to take part in it, or even creating their own structure. In some urban areas like Marseille
Marseille
there exist four distinct intercommunal structures! In many areas, rich communes have joined with other rich communes and have refused to let in poorer communes, for fear that their citizens would be overtaxed to the benefit of poorer suburbs.[citation needed] Moreover, intercommunal structures in many urban areas are still new, and fragile: Tensions exist between communes; the city at the center of the urban area often is suspected of wishing to dominate the suburban communes; communes from opposing political sides also may be suspicious of each other.[citation needed] Two famous examples of this are Toulouse
Toulouse
and Paris. In Toulouse, on top of there being six intercommunal structures, the main community of Toulouse
Toulouse
and its suburbs is only a community of agglomeration, although Toulouse
Toulouse
is large enough to create an Urban Community according to the law. This is because the suburban communes refused an urban community for fear of losing too much power, and opted for a community of agglomeration, despite the fact that a community of agglomeration receives less government funds than an urban community. As for Paris, no intercommunal structure has emerged there, the suburbs of Paris
Paris
fearing the concept of a "Greater Paris," and so disunity still is the rule in the metropolitan area, with the suburbs of Paris
Paris
creating many different intercommunal structures all without the city.[citation needed] One major often raised problem with intercommunality, is the fact that the intercommunal structures are not subject to directly election by the people, so it is the representatives of each individual commune that sit in the new structure. As a consequence, civil servants and bureaucrats are the ones setting up the agenda and implementing it, with the elected representatives of the communes only endorsing key decisions.[citation needed] Miscellaneous facts[edit] Most and least populous communes[edit]

Paris
Paris
is the most populous commune of France
France
with 2,265,886 residents as of 2012.[12] Six of the French villages destroyed in the First World War
French villages destroyed in the First World War
have never been rebuilt. All are found in the département of Meuse and were destroyed during the Battle of Verdun
Battle of Verdun
in 1916. After the war, it was decided that the land previously occupied by the destroyed villages would not be incorporated into other communes, as a testament to these villages which had “died for France”, as they were declared, and to preserve their memory. The following communes are entirely unpopulated and are managed by a council of three members, appointed by the prefect of Meuse:

Beaumont-en-Verdunois Bezonvaux Cumières-le-Mort-Homme Fleury-devant-Douaumont Haumont-près-Samogneux Louvemont-Côte-du-Poivre

Apart from the above cases, the communes with the fewest inhabitants in the French Republic are:

commune of Rouvroy-Ripont
Rouvroy-Ripont
(Marne), near the Champagne area, seven inhabitants at the 2006 census. commune of Leménil-Mitry
Leménil-Mitry
(Meurthe-et-Moselle), in the woodlands of Lorraine in eastern France, three inhabitants at 2006 census (including a 49-year-old man and his 45-year-old wife, he being the owner of all the estates in the commune, a descendant from the family of the local lords). commune of Rochefourchat
Rochefourchat
(Drôme), in southeast France, one inhabitant at 1999 census (a 38-year-old divorced man).

Largest and smallest commune territories[edit]

The largest commune of the French Republic is Maripasoula
Maripasoula
(with 3,710 inhabitants) in the département of French Guiana: 18,360 square kilometres (7,090 sq mi). The smallest commune of the French Republic is Castelmoron-d'Albret (55 inhabitants) near Bordeaux: 3.54 hectares (8.75 acres). In metropolitan France
France
the largest commune is the commune of Arles (50,513 inhabitants) near Marseille, the territory of which encompasses most of the Camargue
Camargue
(the delta of the Rhône River): 8.7 times the area of the city of Paris
Paris
(excluding the outlying parks of Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne
and Bois de Vincennes) at 759 square kilometres (293 sq mi).

Communes farthest away from the capital city of France[edit]

The commune of the French Republic farthest away from Paris
Paris
is the commune of L'Île-des-Pins
L'Île-des-Pins
(1,840 inhabitants) in New Caledonia: 16,841 km. (10,465 miles) from the center of Paris. In continental France
France
(i.e. European France
France
excluding Corsica), the communes farthest away from Paris
Paris
are Coustouges
Coustouges
(134 inhabitants) and Lamanère
Lamanère
(44 inhabitants) at the Spanish border: both at 721 km (448 mi) from the center of Paris
Paris
as the crow flies.

Shortest and longest commune names[edit]

Road sign marking the end of the village of Y in the Somme department of Picardy

The commune of the French Republic with the shortest name is the commune of Y in Somme (86 inhabitants). The two communes in the French Republic with the longest names (38 letters):

Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont-Saint-Genest-et-Isson
Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont-Saint-Genest-et-Isson
in Marne
Marne
(592 inhabitants) Beaujeu-Saint-Vallier-Pierrejux-et-Quitteur
Beaujeu-Saint-Vallier-Pierrejux-et-Quitteur
in Haute-Saône
Haute-Saône
(739 inhabitants)

Communes with non-French names[edit]

Mittelhausbergen
Mittelhausbergen
in Alsace

Vacqueyras
Vacqueyras
in Provence, showing double French/ Provençal name

In areas where languages other than French are or were spoken, most place-names have been translated into a French spelling and pronunciation, such as Dunkerque
Dunkerque
(formerly Duinkerke in Dutch), Toulouse
Toulouse
(formerly Tolosa in Occitan), Strasbourg
Strasbourg
(formerly Straßburg in German), and Perpignan
Perpignan
(formerly Perpinyà in Catalan). However, many smaller communes have retained their native name. Other examples of retained names in the languages once spoken, or still spoken, on French territory:

Amerindian: the commune of Kourou
Kourou
(19,107 inhabitants) Arpitan: the commune of Chamonix
Chamonix
(9,514 inhabitants) Austronesian: the commune of Kouaoua
Kouaoua
(1,586 inhabitants) Basque: the commune of Ainhoa (683 inhabitants) Breton: the commune of Brest (141,315 inhabitants) Catalan: the commune of Banyuls-dels-Aspres
Banyuls-dels-Aspres
(1,007 inhabitants) Comorian: the commune of M’Tsangamouji (5,028 inhabitants) Corsican: the commune of Calvi (5,377 inhabitants) Dutch: the commune of Steenvoorde
Steenvoorde
(4,024 inhabitants) German: the commune of Mittelhausbergen
Mittelhausbergen
(1,680 inhabitants) Occitan: the commune of Alès
Alès
(41,205 inhabitants) Polynesian: the commune of Hitiaa O Te Ra
Hitiaa O Te Ra
(8,683 inhabitants)

Classification[edit] INSEE (Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques) gives numerical indexing codes to various entities in France, notably the communes (which do not coincide with postcodes). The complete code has eight digits and three spaces within, but there is a popular simplified code with five digits and no space within:

Two digits (department) and three digits (commune) for the 96 departments of metropolitan France. Three digits (department or collectivity) and two digits (commune) for the Overseas departments, Overseas collectivities
Overseas collectivities
and Overseas countries.

Administration[edit] Each commune has a municipal council (conseil municipal) compound of municipal councilors (conseiller municipaux). The municipal council is the legislative and deliberative organ of the commune. The municipal councilors are elected by the inhabitants of the commune for a 6-years term. Each commune is ruled by a mayor (maire) elected for a 6-years term. See also[edit]

Lists of communes of France Comune
Comune
(Italy) List of fifteen largest French metropolitan areas by population List of submerged places in France

References[edit]

^ "Code officiel géographique — Présentation" (in French). Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (INSEEE), Government of France. Retrieved 2015-01-09.  ^ INSEE, Government of France. "Code des collectivités d'outre-mer (COM)" (in French). Retrieved 2013-05-22.  ^ INSEE, Government of France. "Le code officiel géographique (COG), avant, pendant et autour (Version 3, volume 1)" (PDF) (in French). Retrieved 2008-06-27.  ^ Parliament (Landtag) of Baden-Württemberg. "25 Jahre Gemeindereform Baden-Württemberg; hier: Neuordnung der Gemeinden" (PDF) (in German). Retrieved 2007-11-25.  ^ gemeindeverzeichnis.de. " Gemeinden in Deutschland" (in German). Retrieved 2008-06-27.  ^ SPLAF. "Historique du Bas-Rhin" (in French). Retrieved 2007-11-25.  ^ SPLAF. "Historique du Haut-Rhin" (in French). Retrieved 2007-11-25.  ^ Legislation Archived 3 January 2005 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Decree Archived 12 January 2005 at the Wayback Machine. ^ [1] Archived 8 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Direction générale des collectivités locales (DGCL), Ministry of the Interior. "Répartition des EPCI à fiscalité propre par département au 01/01/2007" (PDF) (in French). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-19.  ^ INSEE, Government of France. "Populations légales 2012" (in French). Retrieved 9 January 2015. 

(in French) La Documentation française Le développement de l'intercommunalité: la révolution discrète (in French) Les villes et communes de France
France
lescommunes.com: contacts, offices du tourisme et maire, Hall and Tourist Office, statistiques, photographies. (in French) Maryvonne Bonnard, Les collectivités territoriales en France, 2005, La Documentation française, ISBN 2-11-005874-9

External links[edit]

Complete lists of cities and municipalities in France

v t e

Communes of France
France
by department and metropolitan region

01 Ain 02 Aisne 03 Allier 04 Alpes-de-Haute-Provence 05 Hautes-Alpes 06 Alpes-Maritimes 07 Ardèche 08 Ardennes 09 Ariège 10 Aube 11 Aude 12 Aveyron 13 Bouches-du-Rhône 14 Calvados 15 Cantal 16 Charente 17 Charente-Maritime 18 Cher 19 Corrèze 2A Corse-du-Sud 2B Haute-Corse 21 Côte-d'Or 22 Côtes-d'Armor 23 Creuse 24 Dordogne 25 Doubs 26 Drôme 27 Eure 28 Eure-et-Loir 29 Finistère 30 Gard 31 Haute-Garonne 32 Gers 33 Gironde 34 Hérault 35 Ille-et-Vilaine 36 Indre 37 Indre-et-Loire 38 Isère 39 Jura 40 Landes 41 Loir-et-Cher 42 Loire 43 Haute-Loire 44 Loire-Atlantique 45 Loiret 46 Lot 47 Lot-et-Garonne 48 Lozère 49 Maine-et-Loire 50 Manche 51 Marne 52 Haute-Marne 53 Mayenne 54 Meurthe-et-Moselle 55 Meuse 56 Morbihan 57 Moselle 58 Nièvre 59 Nord 60 Oise 61 Orne 62 Pas-de-Calais 63 Puy-de-Dôme 64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques 65 Hautes-Pyrénées 66 Pyrénées-Orientales 67 Bas-Rhin 68 Haut-Rhin 69 Rhône 69M Lyon 70 Haute-Saône 71 Saône-et-Loire 72 Sarthe 73 Savoie 74 Haute-Savoie 75 Paris 76 Seine-Maritime 77 Seine-et-Marne 78 Yvelines 79 Deux-Sèvres 80 Somme 81 Tarn 82 Tarn-et-Garonne 83 Var 84 Vaucluse 85 Vendée 86 Vienne 87 Haute-Vienne 88 Vosges 89 Yonne 90 Territoire de Belfort 91 Essonne 92 Hauts-de-Seine 93 Seine-Saint-Denis 94 Val-de-Marne 95 Val-d'Oise

Overseas departments

971 Guadeloupe 972 Martinique 973 Guyane 974 Réunion 976 Mayotte

v t e

Articles on fourth-level administrative divisions of countries

Belgium People's Republic of China Dominican Republic France Haiti Indonesia Ivory Coast Mali Myanmar

Ward Village tract

Nepal Peru Senegal Thailand Ukraine United Kingdom

England Northern Ireland Scotland Wales

List of administrative di

.