Île-de-France ēl-də-fräNs [key], region and former province, N central France, in the center of the Paris basin, a fertile depression where the Marne and Ouse rivers join the Seine. Containing parts of the Beauce and Brie districts and of the Vexin, Île-de-France is now included in the departments of Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Hauts-de-Seine, Val d'Oise, Yvelines, Essonne, and Seine-et-Marne. It is the most densely populated area in France. The region has numerous large industrial towns and residential suburbs and some agricultural production, mostly sugar beets and wheat. The region employs the bulk of France's computer specialists, engineers, and mathematicians, and has a highly developed transport system. Places of economic or historic importance besides Paris include Beauvais, Compiégne, Fontainebleau, Laon, Meaux, Melun, Nemours, Saint-Cloud, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Senlis, Soissons, and Versailles.

Île-de-France was the cradle of the French monarchy. The name came into use only in the 14th cent. and was then applied to the land bounded by the Seine, the Ouse, and the Marne and their affluents. But the region, including the countship of Paris, had become part of the duchy of France or Francia by the 10th cent. When Hugh Capet, duke of France and count of Paris, was chosen as the French king in 987, his domains became the nucleus of the ever-growing crown land, which by the time of the death of Louis XI (1483) comprised the major part of present-day France. Île-de-France itself, which had been enlarged through the acquisition by the crown of various fiefs, was at that time constituted into a province subject to the parlement of Paris. After the French Revolution the province was divided. Île-de-France was established as an administrative region of France in 1972.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French Political Geography