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Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes or ARA (French pronunciation: [ovɛʁɲ ʁon alp] (listen), Arpitan: Ôvèrgne-Rôno-Ârpes, Occitan: Auvèrnhe Ròse Aups, Italian: Alvernia-Rodano-Alpi) is a region in southeast-central France created by the territorial reform of French Regions in 2015; it resulted from the merger of Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes. The new region came into effect on 1 January 2016, after the regional elections in December 2015.[4]

The region covers an area of more than 69,711 km2 (26,916 sq mi), making it the third largest in metropolitan France, and has a population of 7,877,698, second only to Île-de-France.[5] It consists of 12 departments and one territorial collectivity. Lyon is the chef-lieu of the region.

This new region combines diverse geographical, sociological, economic, and cultural regions, which was already true of Rhône-Alpes, as well as Auvergne, to a lesser extent. While the old Rhône-Alpes and Auvergne regions each enjoyed a unity defined by axes of communication and the pull of their repective metropoles,[1] the new combination is heterogeneous, and sustained lively opposition from some local officials after its creation.[6][7][8][9]

Toponymy, logo, and symbols

The text of the territorial reform law gives interim names for most of the merged regions, combining the names of their constituent regions alphabetically, separated by hyphens. Permanent names would be proposed by the new regional councils and confirmed by the Conseil d'État by 1 October 2016.[10][11]

The interim name of the new administrative region was a hyphenated placename, composed of the historic region of Auvergne, the river Rhône, and the French Alps (Alpes). The same name has been chosen as the definitive name, which was officialized by the Conseil d'État on 28 September 2016.[12]

According to several online polls from Lyon Capitale, the name "Rhône-Alpes-Auvergne" led voting, ahead of "Alpes-Auvergne" and "AURA" (an acronym for Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)[13], which was propoesd by Jean-Jack Queyranne, the former president for the former Rhône-Alpes region. Schoolchildren were consulted about the name of the new region in February 2016, and local residents were consulted in March.[14]

After adjusting the votes in proportion to the number of inhabitants of the regions (Rhône-Alpes having five times the population of Auvergne) the name "Rhône-Alpes-Auvergne" was still leading, ahead of "Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes" and the acronym "AURA".[15]

Despite this result, Laurent Wauquiez and his team decided not to follow the preference of the citizens of the new region, and the name Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes was put to the vote by the regional assembly and adopted unanimously on 23 June 2016;[16][17] it was made official on 28 September 2016 through a decree appearing in the Journal officiel de la République française.[3]

The region was given a coat of arms in October of 2017, which combined those of Auvergne, Savoie, Lyonnais and Dauphiné[18] It also has a flag, which initially consisted of the coat of arms on a white background, but was replaced by a heraldic flag in January of 2018. On 9 February 2018, the region formalized the flag and the coat of arms on its website, as implemented by Mattieu Casali, a historical scholar.[19] It was received favourably by the national heraldic commission[20]

The blazon given on the region's website is Écartelé : au premier d’or au gonfanon de gueules bordé de sinople (Auvergne) ; au deuxième de gueules à la croix d’argent (Savoie) ; au troisième de gueules au lion d’argent (Lyonnais) ; au quatrième d’or au dauphin d’azur, crêté, barbé, loré, peautré et oreillé de gueules (Dauphiné)., which translates roughly to: Quarterly: 1st Or a gonfalon Gules bordered Vert (Auverne); 2nd Gules a cross argent (Savoie); 3rd Gules a lion argent (Lyonnais); 4th Or a dolphin Azure, crested, bearded, lored, and oreilled Gules.[19]

In Francoprovençal and in Occitan, two of the three languages that are historically spoken in the region, the name is pronounced:[2]:


The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes administrative region covers an area of 69 711 km2 in the centre and east of the south of France. It is a collection of regions of diverse topographies, climates, natural resources, cultures, folklore, architecture, and languages. It is bordered by five other adiminstrative regions: Bourgogne-Franche-Comté to the north, Centre-Val de Loire to the northeast, Nouvelle-Aquitaine to the west, Occitanie to the south-west, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur to the south-east. It is also bordered by Italy (Aosta Valley and Piedmont) to the east and Switzerland (Cantons of Geneva, Valais, and Vaud) to the north-east.

Extreme points:

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes comprises twelve departments: Ain, Allier, Ardèche, Cantal, Drôme, Haute-Loire, Haute-Savoie, Isère, Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, Savoie

  • Lyon Part-Dieu
  • Lyon Perrache
  • Valence-Ville
  • Valence-TGV
  • Saint-Étienne-Châteaucreux
  • Grenoble
  • Bourg-Saint-Maurice
  • Chambéry-Challes-Les-Eaux
  • Clermont-Ferrand


The region is governed by the regional council of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes consisting of 204 members. The current regional council was elected in regional elections on 6 and 13 December 2015, with the list of Laurent Wauquiez consisting of The Republicans (LR), the Democratic Movement (MoDem), and Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI) securing an absolute majority of 113 seats.[21][22]

See also

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