French law – The Case of the Three Cities Paris, Lyon and Marseille

Title 3 – Local and Regional Authorities

Chapter 5 – Cooperation between local authorities

Chapter 6 – The case of the three cities of Paris, Lyon and Marseille

Section 1 – The specific electoral system

The electoral system of these three cities, Paris, Lyon and Marseille, includes the level of electoral sectors. In Paris and Lyon, the electoral sector corresponds to an arrondissement. In Marseille, an electoral sector may include two arrondissements (law of July 9, 1987).

Municipal and district councilors are elected in each electoral sector, according to the law of November 19, 1982.

Section 2 – The boroughs

The arrondissements in these three large cities are designed to bring the citizen closer to the elected officials. Paris, Lyon and Marseille being the three largest cities in France, it was necessary to find a level that took this particularity into account.

Since the law of 27 February 2002 on local democracy, the arrondissement councils have played a special role, particularly in that they can give advice to the mayor of the municipality.

Each arrondissement has its own mayor.

The cities of Paris, Lyon and Marseille, case by case

Each of these three cities, Paris, Lyon and Marseille, has followed a particular evolution.


Until 1968, Paris did not have a mayor within the framework of the city of Paris. There were two entities: the city of Paris, and the department of the Seine.

The law of December 31, 1975, completely changed the administrative organization of the Paris region. To simplify the case of Paris, and to make it closer to the classic administrative organization, the city of Paris was replaced by the commune and the department, which had the same scope.


Michel Mercier, president of the Rhône departmental council, and Gérard Collomb, president of Greater Lyon, have put in place the elements for the transformation of Greater Lyon into the metropolis of Lyon is enshrined in the MAPTAM law of January 27, 2014.

The metropolis of Lyon has a special status: it is no longer a public institution, but a territorial authority. It exercises the powers normally devolved to the department.


Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolis is to be created on January1, 2016.

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