Geographical location of .fr TLDs: high growth in two departments of France

May 2013


While the .fr TLD saw average growth of 11% between April 2012 and April 2013, there were significant disparities between the French departments concerned. Isère, for example, has an annual growth rate of 25%, and that of the Alpes-Maritimes is 22%, while the departments of Allier, Aveyron, Creuse and Vendée each grew 18%. Conversely, other departments are experiencing lower growth rates than the national average, such as Dordogne (2%), or the Haute-Garonne, Moselle and Val-de-Marne (6%).

High rates of growth frequently reflect a catch-up component for departments with fewer domain names than the average (Ariège, Creuse, Gers, Haute-Loire, Haute-Marne, Hautes-Alpes, Hautes-Pyrenées, and Orne). This is also the case for several French Overseas Departments and Territories, which posted strong annual growth rates but have limited portfolios of a few dozens or hundreds of .fr domain names (Guyana, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna). It should be remembered that these departments and territories also have their own top-level domains, in addition to the .fr TLD.

In addition to this catch-up process, three departments have high annual growth rates although their domain name portfolio is already among the largest in France: Isère (53,000 domain names and a growth rate of 25%), Alpes-Maritimes (66,000 domain names, growth 22%) and Ille-et-Vilaine (34,000 domain names, growth 17%). These departments have a remarkably dynamic registration rate on the market for .fr domain names.


The distribution by department of .fr domain names still indicates high levels of disparity: while the median number of domain names per department in April 2013 stood at 10,500 names, the values for France range from less than 2,000 (Lozère) up to 420,000 (Paris).


Paris still holds the top spot by far, with nearly 17% of the domain names registered in France. Overall, the Île-de-France department has about 35% of the French namespace, but this figure is declining over the years (it has dropped 4 points since 2007). Also included in the top 10 are the Hauts-de-Seine (6% of .fr domain names), Haute-Garonne and Rhône (4%), Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Nord, Val-de-Marne and Yvelines (3%) and Gironde (2%) departments. The French Overseas Department and Territories represent 1.4% of .fr domain names with nearly 36,000 names, including more than 22,000 in Réunion Island, and more than 5,000 in Guadeloupe and Martinique.


There is a high level of correlation between the number of domain names registered in each department and the wealth it produces: almost all the departments in the top 10 above are also among the top 10 in terms of annual gross domestic product, but in a different order (based on departmental GDP for 2005, the latest values available to date from the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies [INSEE]). Only the Alpes-Maritimes department seems to be an exception, with a ranking in terms of the number of domain names (position 8) much higher than its ranking in terms of departmental GDP (position 17).


There are also high levels of disparity between departments in terms of the ratios between individual and corporate domain name holders. At the national level, the percentage of domain names registered by individuals currently stands at 39% (down one point from 2012). Excluding the overseas territories, this indicator is highest in the Dordogne, Seine-et-Marne and Val-de-Marne (48%) and Essonne (47%) departments. In these departments, nearly one .fr domain name in every two is held by an individual. Conversely, the lowest values can be observed in the Réunion Island (25%), Sarthe (29%) Cantal, Charente-Maritime, Lozère and Vendée departments (30%): where most holders of .fr domain names are companies.


This ratio has remained relatively stable over the year for most departments. It is worth noting, however, that the proportion of individuals has significantly increased in Réunion Island (up 5 points from 20% to 25%), while conversely it has fallen in the Alpes-Maritimes and Dordogne departments (down 5 points).


Among the 2.6 million .fr domain names existing in April 2013, approximately 4% have been registered outside France, representing more than 105,000 names. Germany holds nearly a quarter (24.3%), followed by Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands. A very large majority of the holders are located in the European Union (87%).



The .fr TLD was opened to holders in Europe on December 6, 2011 (individuals and companies in the European Union as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). As a result of the opening, the number of domain names registered abroad rose sharply over the previous year, from 2.4 to 4% for the whole of the .fr namespace. Logically, the vast majority of this growth involves the European Union, where the number of domain names registered abroad increased from 79% to 87%. The dynamic is particularly strong in the Netherlands (up 2.5 points over one year), the UK (up 1.7 points) and Luxembourg (up 1.5 points). Conversely, other countries are now less represented in the international portfolio of .fr domain names, such as the United States (down 5.1 points) or Cyprus (down 1.5 points).


The proportion of .fr domain names held by individuals located abroad amounted to 28%, far behind the figure for France (39%), but a value which slightly increased over the year (up 0.4 points). It may also be noted that this ratio varies considerably according to the country concerned. Individuals are well represented in French-speaking countries (46% in Belgium, 39% in Switzerland), as well as in Spain (40%). In contrast, a very large majority of holders are companies in Cyprus (against 2% of individual holders), the United States (9%), Luxembourg (12%) and Germany (17%).


Methodological note


Statistics on the ratio between individual and corporate holders should be interpreted with caution. For example, some entrepreneurs can register a domain name as an individual, before the formal creation of their business. In addition, "domainers" acting on the secondary market for domain names can hold large portfolios of domain names using the status of an individual or a company as they think appropriate, thus creating a bias in the distribution statistics.

Lire cette ressource en français Top of the page