Seine-et-Oise was a "département" of France encompassing the western, northern, and southern parts of the metropolitan area of Paris. Its "préfecture" (capital) was Versailles and its official number was 78. Seine-et-Oise was abolished in 1968.

General characteristics

Seine-et-Oise was created on March 4, 1790. Its name comes from the two main rivers (Seine River and Oise River) flowing through it.

At its disappearance in 1968, Seine-et-Oise consisted of 688 suburban and rural communes completely surrounding the Seine "département" although it was at its narrowest just east of Seine between that département and the Seine-et-Marne département which still exists today. It had an area of 5,658 km² (2,184 sq. miles). The division of Seine-et-Oise into "arrondissements" changed many times. At its disappearance it had ten "arrondissements": Argenteuil, Étampes, Mantes, Montmorency, Palaiseau, Pontoise, Le Raincy, Rambouillet, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and Versailles.


At the first French census in 1801, Seine-et-Oise had 421,535 inhabitants. With the growth of the Paris suburbs, the population of Seine-et-Oise increased markedly, and by 1968 it had reached 2,943,350 inhabitants. It was judged that Seine-et-Oise was now too large and ungovernable, and so on January 1, 1968 it was split into (essentially) three smaller "départements": Yvelines, Val-d'Oise, and Essonne. A small part of Seine-et-Oise was also merged with parts of the Seine "département" (also disbanded on the same date) to create the three new "départements" of Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne, and Seine-Saint-Denis.

In detail, the splitting up of the Seine-et-Oise "département" was carried out like this: 262 communes in the central part of the "département" became the Yvelines "département", with Versailles as the "préfecture". The official number 78 which was used for Seine-et-Oise was given to the new Yvelines "département", which is the largest chunk of the former Seine-et-Oise (40% of the area of Seine-et-Oise). 198 communes in the south of Seine-et-Oise (32% of the area of Seine-et-Oise) became the Essonne "département", and the official number 91 was assigned to this "département" (a number previously used for the Alger "département" in French Algeria). 185 communes in the north of Seine-et-Oise (22% of the area of Seine-et-Oise) became the Val-d'Oise "département", and the official number 95 was assigned to this "département" (a number never used before).

Of the remaining 6% of Seine-et-Oise, 18 communes were grouped with 29 communes of the Seine "département" to create the Val-de-Marne "département". 16 communes of Seine-et-Oise were grouped with 24 communes of the Seine "département" to create the Seine-Saint-Denis "département". Finally, the last 9 communes of Seine-et-Oise were grouped with 27 communes of the Seine "département" to create the Hauts-de-Seine "département".

Thus, it should be noted that Yvelines, Val-d'Oise, and Essonne are altogether smaller than the former Seine-et-Oise "département" (5,658 km² for the Seine-et-Oise "département" vs. 5,334 km² for the three "départements").

Grande couronne

The three "départements" of Yvelines, Essonne, and Val-d'Oise, plus the Seine-et-Marne "département", are altogether known in France as the "grande couronne" (i.e. "large ring", as opposed to the "small ring" of the suburbs closer to Paris).


At the 1999 French census, if Seine-et-Oise still existed its population would have been 4,554,426 inhabitants, the highest figure ever, as people relocate more and more from the center to the distant suburbs of the metropolitan area of Paris. Of the new "départements" created in 1968 out of Seine-et-Oise, Yvelines was the most populated in 1999 with 1,354,304 inhabitants. Seine-Saint-Denis and Hauts-de-Seine are more populous than Yvelines, but only a small part of their territory is made up of the former Seine-et-Oise.

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