Île-de-France (s/, French: [il də fʁɑ̃s](listen); literally "Island of France") is the most populous of the 18 regions of France. It is located in the north-central part of the country and often called the région parisienne ("Paris Region") because it includes the city of Paris. Île-de-France is densely populated and economically important: it covers only 12,012 square kilometres (4,638 square miles), about 2% of France's territory, but has an official estimated population of 12,213,364 (18.2% of the population of France) and accounts for nearly 30% of the French Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The region is made up of eight administrative departments: Paris, Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne, Val-d'Oise and Yvelines. It was created as the "District of the Paris Region" in 1961 and renamed in 1976 after the historic province of Île-de-France, when its status was aligned with the other French administrative regions created in 1972. Residents are sometimes referred to as Franciliens, an administrative word created in the 1980s. The GDP of the region in 2016 was €681 billion (or US$850 billion at market exchange rates). It has the highest per-capita GDP among regions in France and the third-highest of regions in the European Union. In 2018, almost all of the twenty-eight French companies listed in the Fortune Global 500 had their headquarters in the Paris Region.
Besides the landmarks of Paris, the region has many important historic sites, including the Palace of Versailles and the Palace of Fontainebleau, as well as the most-visited tourist attraction in France, Disneyland Paris. The poverty rate in Île-de-France was 15.9% in 2015, compared with 12.3% in 2006. The region is also increasingly unequal. Housing prices have pushed the less affluent outside Paris.
Although the modern name Île-de-France literally means "Island of France", the etymology is in fact unclear. The "island" may refer to the land between the rivers Oise, Marne and Seine, or it may also have been a reference to the Île de la Cité, where the French royal palace and cathedral were located.
The Île-de-France was inhabited by the Parisii, a sub-tribe of the CelticSenones, from around the middle of the 3rd century BC. One of the area's major north–south trade routes crossed the Seine on the île de la Cité; this meeting place of land and water trade routes gradually became an important trading centre. The Parisii traded with many river towns (some as far away as the Iberian Peninsula) and minted their own coins for that purpose.
The Romans conquered the area in 52 BC and began their settlement on Paris's Left Bank. It became a prosperous city with a forum, baths, temples, theatres, and an amphitheatre.Christianity was introduced in the middle of the 3rd century AD by Saint Denis, the first Bishop of Paris: according to legend, when he refused to renounce his faith before the Roman occupiers, he was beheaded on the hill which became known as Mons Martyrum (Latin "Hill of Martyrs"), later "Montmartre", from where he walked headless to the north of the city; the place where he fell and was buried became an important religious shrine, the Basilica of Saint-Denis.
The Kings of France enjoyed getting away from Paris and hunting in the game-filled forests of the region. They built palatial hunting lodges, most notably Palace of Fontainebleau and the Palace of Versailles. From the time of Louis XIV until the French Revolution, Versailles was the official residence of the Kings and the seat of the French government. Île-de-France became the term used for the territory of Paris and the surrounding province, which was administered directly by the King.
During the French Revolution, the royal provinces were abolished and divided into departments, and the city and region were governed directly by the national government. In the period after World War II, as Paris faced a major housing shortage, hundreds of massive apartment blocks for low-income residents were built around the edges of Paris. In the 1950s and the 1960s, Many thousands of immigrants settled in the communes bordering the city. In 1959, under President Charles De Gaulle, a new region was created out of six departments, which corresponded approximately with the historic region, with the name District de la région de Paris ("District of the Paris Region"). On 6 May 1976, as part of the process of regionalisation, the district was reconstituted and increased administrative and political powers and renamed the Île-de-France region.
Île-de-France has a land area of 12,011 km2 (4,637 sq mi). It is composed of eight departments centred on its innermost department and capital, Paris. Around the departmental of Paris, urbanisation fills a first concentric ring of three departments commonly known as the petite couronne ("small ring"); it extends into a second outer ring of four departments known as the grande couronne ("large ring"). The former department of Seine, abolished in 1968, included the city proper and parts of the petite couronne.
The outer parts of the Ile-de-France remain largely rural. Agriculture land, forest and natural spaces occupy 78.9 percent of the region, Twenty-eight percent of the region's land is in urban usage, while the remaining 24 percent is rivers, forests, woods, and ponds.
The River Seine flows through the middle of the region, and the region is criss-crossed by its tributaries and sub-tributaries, including the Rivers Marne, Oise and Epte. The River Eure does not cross the region, but receives water from several rivers in the Ile-de-France, including the Drouette and the Vesgre. The major rivers are navigable, and, because of the modest variations of altitude in the region (between 10 and 200 meters), they have a tendency to meander and curve. They also create many lakes and ponds, some of which have been transformed into recreation areas. (Moisson-Mousseaux, Cergy-Neuville, Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, etc.).
The Paris Region is France's most important center of economic activity. In 2016, the region had a gross domestic product (GDP) of €681 billion (US$850 billion). The region accounts for nearly 30 percent of the French Gross Domestic Product (GDP). < All but one of the twenty-nine French companies listed in the Fortune Global 500 have their headquarters in Paris.
The regional economy has gradually shifted toward high-value-added service industries (finance, IT services, etc.) and high-tech manufacturing (electronics, optics, aerospace, etc.). In 2014 industry represented just under five percent of active enterprises in the region, and 10.2 percent of salaried workers. Commerce and services account for 84 percent of the business establishments in the region, and have 83.3 percent of the salaried employees.
Financial services and insurance are important sector of the regional economy; the major French Banks and insurance companies, including BNP Paribas, Société générale, and Crédit agricole, all have their headquarters in the region, The region also hosts the headquarters of the top French telecom companies and utilities, including Orange S.A., Veolia and EDF, The French stock market, the Bourse de Paris, now known as Euronext Paris, occupies an historical building in the center of Paris, is in ranked fourth among global stock markets, after New York, Tokyo and London.,
The Energy sector is also well established in the region. The nuclear power industry, with its major firm Orano, has its headquarters in Ile-de-France, as does he main French oil company Total S.A., the top French company in the Fortune Global 500, and the main electric utility, Électricité de France. The energy firm Engie also has its main offices in the region at La Défense.
In 2018 just 7.2 percent of employees in the Region were engaged in industry; 62.3 percent were engaged in commerce and market services; 25.5 percent in non-market services, including government, health and education; 4.8 percent in construction; and 0.2 percent in agriculture.
The largest non-government employers in the Region as of the end of 2015 were the airline Air France (40,657); the SNCF (French Railways): 31,955; the telecom firm Orange S.A. (31,497); the bank Société Générale (27,361); the automotive firm Groupe PSA (19,648); EDF (Electricité de France); 18,199; and Renault (18,136). While the Petite Coronne, or departments closest to Paris, previously employed the most industrial workers, the largest number is now in the Grande Coronne, the outer departments.
In 2018 48 percent of the land of the Île-de-France was devoted to agriculture; 569,000 hectares were cultivated. The most important crops are grains (66 percent), followed by beets (7 percent), largely for industrial use, and grass for grazing. In 2014, 9,495 hectares were devoted to bio agriculture. However, the number of persons employed in agriculture in the region dropped thirty-three percent between 2000 and 2015, to just 8,460 persons in 2015.
The Île-de-France is one of the world's top tourist destinations, with a record 23.6 million hotel arrivals in 2017, and an estimated 50 million visitors in all types of accommodation. The largest number of visitors came from the United States, followed by England, Germany and China. It was ranked as the third most visited travel destination in the world in 2017, after Bangkok and London. The top tourist attraction in the region in 2017 was Disneyland Paris, which received 14.8 million visitors in 2017, followed by the Cathedral of Notre-Dame (est. 12 million) and the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur at Montmartre (est. 11.1 million visitors).
Seat of the regional council of Île-de-France in Paris (2008)
The Regional Council is the legislative body of the region. Its seat is in Paris, at 33 rue Barbet-de-Jouy in the 7th arrondissement. On December 15, 2015, a list of candidates of the Union of the Right, a coalition of centrist and right-wing parties, led by Valérie Pécresse, narrowly won the regional election, defeating the Union of the Left, a coalition of socialists and ecologists. The socialists had governed the region for the preceding seventeen years.
Since 2016 the regional council has 121 members from the Union of the Right, 66 from the Union of the Left and 22 from the far-right National Front.
Holders of the executive office
Delegates General for the District of the Paris Region
1961–1969: Paul Delouvrier (civil servant) – Very influential term. Responsible for the creation of the RER express subway network in the Île-de-France and beyond.
1969–1975: Maurice Doublet (civil servant)
1975–1976: Lucien Lanier (civil servant)
Presidents of the Regional Council of Île-de-France
As of 1 January 2017, the population density of the region was 1010.9 inhabitants per square kilometer. The densest area is Paris itself, with 21,066 inhabitants per square kilometer. The least-densely populated département is Seine-et-Marne with 239 residents per square kilometer.
Wealth and Poverty
As of 2015 according to the official government statistics agency INSEE, 15.9 percent of the residents of the region had an income below the poverty level; 16.2 of the residents of the city of Paris had income below the poverty level. Poverty was highest in the départements of Seine-Saint-Denis (29 percent), Val-d'Oise (17.1 percent), and Val-de-Marne (16.8 percent). It was lowest in Yvelines (9.7 percent); Seine-et-Marne (11.8 percent), Essone (12.9 percent), and Hauts-de-Seine (12.4 percent). Hauts-de-Seine is the wealthiest department in France, measured by per capita GDP.
In 2013, 2,206,000 residents of the Île-de-France were immigrants, born outside of France. This amounts to 18.5% of the population of the region, two times more than the proportion for metropolitan France as a whole. Four out of ten immigrants living in France reside in the Paris Region. The immigrant population of the Paris Region has a higher proportion of those born outside of Europe, and a higher proportion of immigrants with a higher level of education, than the rest of France. The population of immigrants is more widely distributed throughout the region than it was in the early 2000s, though the concentrations remain high in certain areas, particularly Paris and the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. The proportion of residents born outside of Metropolitan France has dropped since the 1999 census (19.7%) and the 2010 census (23%).
"Petite Couronne" redirects here. For the municipality in Upper Normandy, see Petit-Couronne.
Map of the Petite Couronne with Paris
Locator map showing the municipalities in which the Petite Couronne is divided. Paris is divided into its 20 arrondissements
The Grande Couronne (Greater Crown, i.e. Outer Ring) includes the outer four departments of Île-de-France not bordering with Paris. They are Seine-et-Marne (77), Yvelines (78), Essonne (91) and Val-d'Oise (95). The latter three departments formed the Seine-et-Oise department until this was disbanded in 1968. The city of Versailles is part of this area.
Population of Île-de-France
Census returns until 2011; official January estimates from INSEE from 2012 on.