Grand Est, France

Grand Est is a French region created on January 1, 2016 from the territory of the previous regions Alsace (Alsace), Lorraine (Lorraine) and Champagne-Ardenne. Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine was initially used as a provisional name. This was replaced by the current name by the Council of State (Conseil d'État) on October 1, 2016.

Grand Est is the fourth largest region (excluding overseas regions) at 57,433 square kilometers and has a population of 5,562,651 (as of 2020), making it the sixth largest region by population. The administrative seat and most populous city is Strasbourg. The Grand Est region is divided into ten departments: Ardennes (08), Aube (10), Bas-Rhin (67), Haute-Marne (52), Haut-Rhin (68), Marne (51), Meurthe-et- Moselle (54), Meuse (55), Moselle (57) and Vosges (88). It borders (clockwise) with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and the regions of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Île-de-France and Hauts-de-France.

In Alsace in particular, there were protests against the formation of this new region. In 2019 it was decided that the two départements of Alsace, Haut-Rhin (68) and Bas-Rhin (67), from 1 January 2021 would be reunited as the European Territorial Authority of Alsace (Collectivité européenne d'Alsace) with a special status that is unique in France become.






Saint-Louis (Haut-Rhin)


Other destinations

Château de Sedan

Château d'Andlau
Château du Bernstein
Château du Birkenfels
Château du Fleckenstein
Château du Frankenbourg
Chateau de Froensbourg
Château du Grand-Geroldseck

Château du Grand Ringelstein

Château de Greifenstein
Château de Guirbaden
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
Château de Haut-Barr or Hohbarr
Château de Hohenfels

Château du Ramstein (Lorraine)
Château de l'Ortenbourg
Château de Kintzheim
Château de Ramstein (Alsace)
Château de Wangenbourg



Most of the Grand Est region has always been French-speaking, although there are significant German-speaking minorities in Alsace and in the north-east half of the Moselle department (north of the Thionville-Saarbourg line). Due to a rigid language policy and sometimes language bans, the proportion of German speakers has fallen there, but knowledge of German is widespread among the local population in both regions, especially among older people. However, their mother tongue is not High German, but the respective dialect. However, knowledge of French is clearly an advantage. Especially in Alsace and in the immediate border area to Germany, however, efforts are now being made to preserve the local language and High German and to pass it on to young people. In Alsace and in the Moselle department, more than/about 50% of all pupils receive German lessons.



The provisional name Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine was formed from the alphabetical order of the merged regions and was replaced by the final name on July 1, 2016. In a joint poll by television channels France 3 Champagne-Ardenne and France 3 Lorraine, a majority favored Grand Est as the new name. From March 14 to April 1, 2016, a new name could be voted on in an online poll. Grand Est was subsequently added to the three original proposals of Rhin-Champagne, Acalie and Nouvelle-Austrasie. On April 4, it was announced that 75 percent of voters had opted for Grand Est.




The region borders Belgium and Luxembourg to the north, Germany to the northeast and east, Switzerland to the southeast, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté to the south, and Ile -de-France and Hauts-de-France to the west. The central point of the region is located in Void-Vacon, at the corner of rue Jeanne-d'Arc and rue de Strasbourg. To the east, it is bordered by the Rhine, a major axis of communication and economic exchanges in Europe, which has had the status of international waters since the Congress of Vienna (1815). The use of the river is managed by the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) based in Strasbourg.

The region straddles the Paris Basin to the west and Rhineland Europe to the east, these two areas being separated by the diagonal of the void or diagonal of low densities which crosses it.

Longeville-en-Barrois and Grandfontaine constitute one of the twenty-three points of the French Reference Network.



The Grand Est extends over the catchment areas of the Seine, the Meuse and the Rhine. Management of the Seine is entrusted to the Seine-Normandy Water Agency, while that of the Rhine and the Meuse is the responsibility of the Rhine-Meuse Water Agency, based in Metz.

The Marne and the Aube are the main tributaries of the Seine, while the Moselle and the Ill are the main tributaries of the Rhine in the region.

The Meuse has its source in Champagne-Ardenne, at Châtelet-sur-Meuse.

The great lakes of the Seine, partly located in Champagne-Ardenne, contribute to the regulation of the Seine, before it joins Paris.

The Rhine water table in the plain of Alsace, and more generally in the Rhine ditch constitutes the largest reserve of fresh water in Europe. The Saulnois has remarkable salt ponds, unique in mainland France, where salt-tolerant plants such as glasswort grow.



The region has 5,559,051 inhabitants (municipal population on January 1, 2015) according to the official journal. The population is essentially concentrated in the east, in the Rhine part, along the Rhine, its tributaries (the Moselle in Lorraine and the Ill in Alsace) and its sub-tributaries. The part located in the Paris basin to the west is less populated and more rural. The diagonal of the void (or diagonal of low densities), which crosses France from the Ardennes to the Pyrenees, reaches its lowest population densities in the region in the Meuse (31 inhab./km2), in the Aube (51 inhab./km2) and in Haute-Marne (29 inhab./km2). The department of the Ardennes is also covered by the diagonal of the void but its population resides mainly in the west in the Paris basin. The department of the Vosges is in a similar situation, the western part being occupied by the diagonal of the void but the east belongs to the Moselle furrow, the Lorraine part of Rhine Europe. Conversely, Alsace (229 inhab./km2), located on the banks of the Rhine, is one of the most densely populated territories in France. This population density is even higher in the plain, Alsace being covered by mountain ranges to the west and south.



From 1948 to 1964, the ten departments making up the current Grand Est region were grouped together within the Igamie of Metz.

Act III of decentralization
The region is the result of the merger of the three regions Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, and Lorraine, following Act III of decentralization (2013). According to France Strategy, an institution attached to the Prime Minister, the merger of these three regions is economically coherent for all the departments and apart from this merger, only the integration of the Territoire de Belfort but also of the Aisne would further strengthen this coherence. The CESERs of the Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine regions in 2015 provided a report including contrasts in the economic situation (GDP, specialization, foreign trade, education, research and innovation), social (training, demography, income distribution and poverty , employment, unemployment, cross-border employment, quality of life), and environmental (waste management, energy, transport and mobility, land use, air and water quality, biodiversity). None of these reports analyze the cost of running the new region or the risk of diseconomies of scale.

This merger was the subject of debate, particularly in Alsace, where it came up against fierce opposition, both from elected officials and the population. It gave rise to several demonstrations, each time bringing together several thousand people. On the political level, the Alsatian PS deputies Armand Jung and Philippe Bies were in favor of the administrative merger with Lorraine alone, but did not comment on the merger with Champagne-Ardenne. Two UMP deputies from the Ardennes vote for the merger, while Jean-Paul Bachy, president of the Champagne-Ardenne region, is against a merger with Alsace. The deputies from Lorraine are very divided: the eleven deputies of the PS voted for the merger, and the ten deputies of the UMP voted against it. With regard to the project of an Alsace-Lorraine merger, the Lorraine regional councilors on the left were rather for while those on the right (UMP and FN) were rather against.

Act III of decentralization is divided into two parts:
a component called “NORe”, instituted by the law on the new territorial organization of the Republic, which focuses on the distribution of powers;
a section called “MAPTAM”, instituted by the law on the modernization of territorial public action and the affirmation of metropolises, which affects the organization of the major intermunicipalities in the region, whose role it reinforces.

Strasbourg is designated as the seat of a region by law (paragraph I.4° of article 2 of the law of 16 January 2015). It is the only one among the capitals of the new regions to be designated in this way. Several elected officials from Lorraine and Champagne have criticized this choice made without local consultation.

The introduction of a right of option in the law relating to the delimitation of the regions will also allow the Territoire de Belfort to decide, after January 1, 2016, for integration into the new region, mentioned by certain elected officials.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe criticized this territorial reform, the rapporteurs being "concerned by the lack of real consultation of local authorities before the vote on the law which entered into force on 1 January 2016, as well as than by the financial imbalance between local authorities due to an unsuitable system of equalization and a recentralisation at the national level of local tax decisions”.

Creation of the region
The regional council is elected on December 13, 2015. The region is officially created on January 1, 2016 and Philippe Richert becomes president on January 4, 2016. The organization of a consultation on the new name is voted by the regional council on January 25, 2016 .

Four names are submitted to the internet vote from March 14 to April 1: Rhin-Champagne, Acalie, Nouvelle-Austrasie and Grand Est.

The results are as follows:
Great East: 75%;
New Austrasia: 10.4%;
Rhine-Champagne: 9.8%;
Acalia: 4.8%.

Philippe Richert announces his resignation on September 30, 2017. Jean-Luc Bohl is acting until new elections are organised. Jean Rottner is elected new president of the region on October 20, 2017. Franck Leroy (DVD) succeeds him on January 13, 2023.