Soon into his term as president, nicolas sarkozy commissioned jacques attali attali, j. 2005. C'était françois mitterrand, paris: fayard. [google scholar], former adviser to françois mitterrand, to investigate ways to ‘free up’ economic growth. Decision 260 of the report published in february 2008 recommended doing away with the french department completely. The report reignited a decades-long debate about streamlining the levels of france's public administration. Drawing on websites and internet blogs, including attali's attali, j. 2005. C'était françois mitterrand, paris: fayard. [google scholar] own, this article examines civil society reactions to the proposal, uncovering diverse and conflicting attitudes towards the department, while revealing it to be the most ‘accessible’ expression of the republic, bound up with the self. In many senses, this artificial political construct, purposely created to bear no reference to history or belonging, has paradoxically become a significant carrier of french culture and territorial identity.