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Cantons of France

canyon of france cartoon picture, canyons of france
incl overseas regions


incl overseas departments

Arrondissements Cantons Intercommunality

Communauté urbaine
Communauté d'agglomération
Communauté de communes


Associated communes
Municipal arrondissements

Others in Overseas France

Overseas collectivities
Sui generis collectivity
Overseas country
Overseas territory
Clipperton Island

The cantons of France are territorial subdivisions of the French Republic's arrondissements and departments

Apart from their role as organizational units in certain aspects of the administration of public services and justice, the chief purpose of the cantons today is to serve as constituencies for the election of the members of the representative assembly General Council in each department For this reason, such elections are known in France as "cantonal elections"

There are currently 4,055 cantons including 172 overseas in France1 Most of them group together some communes the lowest administrative division of the French Republic, although larger communes may comprise several cantons, since the cantons are intended to be roughly equal in size of population – unlike the communes, which range in size from more than two million inhabitants Paris to just one person Rochefourchat


  • 1 Role and administration
  • 2 History
  • 3 Statistics
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References

Role and administrationedit

The role of the canton is, essentially, to provide a framework for departmental elections Each canton elects a person to represent it at the conseil général du département – or general council for the department, which is the principal administrative division of the French Republic

In urban areas, a single commune generally includes several cantons Conversely, in rural areas, a canton may comprise several smaller communes In the latter case, administrative services, the gendarmerie headquarters for example, are often situated in the principal town chef-lieu of the canton, although there are exceptions, such as cantons Gaillon-Campagne and Sarreguemines-Campagne, which have in common a "chief-town" which does not belong to either canton

For statistical INSEE purposes, the twenty arrondissements of Paris – the administrative subdivisions of that city – are sometimes considered cantons, but they serve no greater electoral function

Cantons also form legal districts, as seats of Tribunaux d'instance or "Courts of First Instance" also, "TI" Historically, the cantons are called justices de paix or "district courts"


The cantons were created in 1790 at the same time as the départements by the Revolutionary Committee for the Division of Territory Comité de division They were more numerous than today between 40 and 60 to each département Cantons were, at first, grouped into what were called districts After the abolition of the district in 1800, they were reorganized by the Consulate into arrondissements The number of cantons was then drastically reduced between 30 and 50 units by the Loi du 8 pluviôse an IX 28 January 1801, or the "Law for the Reduction of the Number of District Courts", or Loi portant réduction du nombre de justices de paix in French The département prefects were told by the government to group the communes within newly established cantons The département lists, once approved by the government, were published in the Bulletin des lois in 1801 and 1802; these lists are still the basis of the administrative divisions of France in place today, although cantons with small populations have been eliminated and new cantons created in areas of strong demographic growth On the whole, their number has increased appreciably

In May 2013 a law was adopted that reduced the number of cantons drastically2 This law came into effect at the French departmental elections in March 2015 Before the cantonal reform, there were 4,032 cantons3 The 2013 reform law also changed the representation of the cantons in the departmental councils: each canton is now represented by a man and a woman2


The number of cantons varies from one département to another; the Territoire de Belfort, for example, has 9, while Nord has 41

See alsoedit

  • Administrative divisions of France
  • Canton subnational entity
  • List of cantons of France


  1. ^ INSEE, Populations légales 2012 des cantons - découpage 2015
  2. ^ a b LOI n° 2013-403 du 17 mai 2013 relative à l'élection des conseillers départementaux, des conseillers municipaux et des conseillers communautaires, et modifiant le calendrier électoral
  3. ^ INSEE French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies Code Officiel Géographique

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