It is understandable if you feel confused. Officially, the name remained unchanged in the reorganisation of the French regions which saw them reduced from 27 to 18 on January 1, 2016. At that time some regions fused together and received new names such as Grand Est, Hauts-de-France and Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
However, at the end of last year the Paca regional council, based in Marseille, announced it was going to use the name Région Sud Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, or just ‘Région Sud’ for short.
The president of the council, Renaud Muselier (LREM) said it had been a ‘mistake’ to call the region Paca, which he said is “not pleasant to write and hear” and the region – which ranges from the lavender fields and hilltop villages of rural Provence to historic cities like Marseille and Aix and and stylish Riviera resorts – “deserves more than an acronym”.
Concrete effects of this decision include the fact the region has a new website called maregionsud.fr and has swapped the wording on its logo. It has also changed the names of its social media accounts (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook...). A celebrity publicity campaign and film have also been launched called Ici c’est le Sud.
Even so, it is essentially a marketing or ‘branding’ exercise and will be used especially to promote the area internationally, as ‘the south (of France)’ is more meaningful to other nationalities than ‘Paca’, which is little known outside of France.
This was clarified in the summer after the RN (former FN) opposition in the council protested against the use of the Région Sud name in official documents including minutes of council meetings.
It was agreed that the new name would not be used in such contexts. The RN councillors said they would remain vigilant.
A local councillor in Aix-en-Provence for the regional party le Partit Occitan, Hervé Guerrera, is running a petition which has 32,000 signatures, calling for the region to be called Provence (https://tinyurl.com/y74rxozr). He argues that it is an old name which is known worldwide whereas the meaning of ‘The South’ is less clear.