Departments of France
In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, five are overseas departments, which are classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; each department is administered by an elected body called a departmental council. From 1800 to April 2015, these were called general councils; each council has a president. Their main areas of responsibility include the management of a number of social and welfare allowances, of junior high school buildings and technical staff, local roads and school and rural buses, a contribution to municipal infrastructures. Local services of the state administration are traditionally organised at departmental level, where the prefect represents the government; the departments were created in 1790 as a rational replacement of Ancien Régime provinces with a view to strengthen national unity.
All of them were named after physical geographical features, rather than after historical or cultural territories which could have their own loyalties. The division of France into departments was a project identified with the French revolutionary leader the Abbé Sieyès, although it had been discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers; the earliest known suggestion of it is from 1764 in the writings of d'Argenson. They have inspired similar divisions in some of them former French colonies. Most French departments are assigned a two-digit number, the "Official Geographical Code", allocated by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques. Overseas departments have a three-digit number; the number is used, for example, in the postal code, was until used for all vehicle registration plates. While residents use the numbers to refer to their own department or a neighbouring one, more distant departments are referred to by their names, as few people know the numbers of all the departments.
For example, inhabitants of Loiret might refer to their department as "the 45". In 2014, President François Hollande proposed to abolish departmental councils by 2020, which would have maintained the departments as administrative divisions, to transfer their powers to other levels of governance; this reform project has since been abandoned. The first French territorial departments were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson to serve as administrative areas purely for the Ponts et Chaussées infrastructure administration. Before the French Revolution, France gained territory through the annexation of a mosaic of independent entities. By the close of the Ancien Régime, it was organised into provinces. During the period of the Revolution, these were dissolved in order to weaken old loyalties; the modern departments, as all-purpose units of the government, were created on 4 March 1790 by the National Constituent Assembly to replace the provinces with what the Assembly deemed a more rational structure.
Their boundaries served two purposes: Boundaries were chosen to break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. Boundaries were set so that every settlement in the country was within a day's ride of the capital of a department; this was a security measure, intended to keep the entire national territory under close control. This measure was directly inspired by the Great Terror, during which the government had lost control of many rural areas far from any centre of government; the old nomenclature was avoided in naming the new departments. Most were named after other physical features. Paris was in the department of Seine. Savoy became the department of Mont-Blanc; the number of departments 83, had been increased to 130 by 1809 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of the First French Empire. Following Napoleon's defeats in 1814–1815, the Congress of Vienna returned France to its pre-war size and the number of departments was reduced to 86.
In 1860, France acquired the County of Nice and Savoy, which led to the creation of three new departments. Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of Alpes-Maritimes was created from Nice and a portion of the Var department; the 89 departments were given numbers based on the alphabetical order of their names. The department of Bas-Rhin and parts of Meurthe, Moselle and Haut-Rhin were ceded to the German Empire in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. A small part of Haut-Rhin became known as the Territoire de Belfort; when France regained the ceded departments after World War I, the Territoire de Belfort was not re-integrated into Haut-Rhin. In 1922, it became France's 90th department; the Lorraine departments were not changed back to their original boundaries, a new Moselle department was created in the regaine
Affringues is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The placename derives from medieval Flemish: Hafferdingen. A village, located 9 miles southwest of Saint-Omer, at the D205 and D202 crossroads. First mentioned in the 12th century by the names Harfrenges; the church of St. Leger, dating from the sixteenth century, with a stone spire. Communes of the Pas-de-Calais department INSEE commune file Affringues on the Quid website
Agnières is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. A small farming village located 10 miles northwest of Arras, by the banks of the river Scarpe, at the D49 and D75E road junction; the church of St. Leger, dating from the twelfth century. Communes of the Pas-de-Calais department INSEE commune file Agnières on the Quid website
Adinfer is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. A farming village located at the D4, D7 and D35 road junction; the church of St. Nicholas, dating from the twentieth century, built after the village was destroyed in World War I. Communes of the Pas-de-Calais department INSEE commune file Official website of the commune Adinfer on the Quid website
Agnez-lès-Duisans is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. A farming village located at the D62 and D56 road junction; the church of St. Martin, dating from the fifteenth century; the remains of an old castle. Two 18th century farm buildings. Communes of the Pas-de-Calais department INSEE commune file Agnez-lès-Duisans on the Quid website
Ablain-Saint-Nazaire is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. A farming village located on the D57 road, it was rebuilt after being destroyed during World War I. The Saint-Nazaire stream, which passes through the commune, is a small tributary of the river Deûle. At the start of World War I, the Battle of Lorette lasted for 12 months, from October 1914 to October 1915, resulting in high casualties on both sides: 100,000 killed and as many wounded. A French national cemetery was built on 13 hectares nearby and comprises 20,000 graves, laid out irrespective of rank or military training. General Barbot has a private soldier buried next on his right. In eight ossuaries, around the base of the lantern tower, are the remains of 22,970 unidentified soldiers. A portion of the cemetery has been reserved for Muslim soldiers; the church of St. Pierre, dating from the twentieth century; the ruins of the fifteenth century church, destroyed in World War I. The war museum. Communes of the Pas-de-Calais department INSEE commune file The Communauté d'Agglomération of Lens-Liévin Official website of Ablain-Saint-Nazaire Ablain-Saint-Nazaire on the Quid website
Jean-Pierre Wimille was a Grand Prix motor racing driver and a member of the French Resistance during World War II. Born in Paris, France to a father who loved motor sports and was employed as the motoring correspondent for the Petit Parisien newspaper, Jean-Pierre Wimille developed a fascination with racing cars at a young age, he was 22 years old when he made his Grand Prix debut, driving a Bugatti 37A at the 1930 French Grand Prix in Pau. Driving a Bugatti T51, in 1932 he won the La Turbie hill climb, the Grand Prix de Lorraine and the Grand Prix d'Oran. In 1934 he was the victor at the Algerian Grand Prix in Algiers driving a Bugatti T59 and in January 1936 he finished second in the South African Grand Prix held at the Prince George Circuit in East London, South Africa won the French Grand Prix in his home country. Still in France, that same year he won the Deauville Grand Prix, a race held on the city's streets. Wimille won in his Bugatti T59 in an accident-marred race that killed drivers Raymond Chambost and Marcel Lehoux in separate incidents.
Of the 16 cars that started the race, only three managed to finish. In 1936, Wimille traveled to Long Island, New York to compete in the Vanderbilt Cup where he finished 2nd, behind the winner, Tazio Nuvolari, he competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race, winning in 1937 and again in 1939. When World War II came, following the Nazi occupation Wimille and fellow Grand Prix race drivers Robert Benoist and William Grover-Williams joined the Special Operations Executive, which aided the French Resistance. Of the three, Wimille was the only one to survive. Jean-Pierre Wimille married Christiane de la Fressange with whom he had a son, François born in 1946. At the end of the War, he became the No. 1 driver for the Alfa Romeo team between 1946 and 1948, winning several Grand Prix races including his second French Grand Prix. From 1946 on, Wimille designed cars in Paris under the brand-name Wimille. Between 1946 and 1950 around eight cars were built, at first with Citroën-engines with Ford V8-engines.
Jean-Pierre Wimille died at the wheel of Simca-Gordini during practice runs for the 1949 Buenos Aires Grand Prix. He is buried in the Cimetière de Passy in Paris. There is a memorial to him at the Porte Dauphine on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris; some of Jean-Pierre Wimille's race victories: 1932: Grand Prix de Lorraine Grand Prix d'Oran1934: Grand Prix of Algeria – Bugatti T591936: French Grand Prix – Bugatti T57G Grand Prix de la Marne – Bugatti T57G Deauville Grand Prix – Bugatti T59 Grand Prix du Comminges – Bugatti T59/571937: Pau Grand Prix – Bugatti T57G Grand Prix de Böne – Bugatti T57 24 hours of Le Mans – Bugatti T57G driving with Robert Benoist Grand Prix de la Marne – Bugatti T571939: Coupe de Paris Grand Prix du Centenaire Luxembourg – Bugatti T57S45 24 hours of Le Mans – Bugatti T57C driving with Pierre VeyronPost War – 1945: Coupe des Prisonniers – Bugatti sprint car1946: Coupe de la Résistance – Alfa Romeo 308 Grand Prix du Roussillon – Alfa Romeo 308 Grand Prix de Bourgogne – Alfa Romeo 308 Grand Prix des Nations – Geneva – Alfa Romeo 1581947: Swiss Grand Prix – Alfa Romeo 158 Belgian Grand Prix – Alfa Romeo 158 Coupe de Paris1948: Grand Prix de Rosario – Simca- Gordini 15 French Grand Prix – Alfa Romeo 158 Italian Grand Prix – Alfa Romeo 158 Autodrome Grand Prix – Alfa Romeo 158/47 Paris, Jean-Michel and Mearns, William D: "Jean-Pierre Wimille: à bientôt la revanche", Editions Drivers, Toulouse, 2002, ISBN 2-9516357-5-3 Saward, Joe: "The Grand Prix Saboteurs", Morienval Press, London, 2006, ISBN 978-0-9554868-0-7 Grand Prix History – Hall of Fame, Jean-Pierre Wimille Jean-Pierre Wimille grave photos at Cimetière de Passy