France is divided into departments, as Great Britain and Ireland are divided into counties or shires. From 1768 it was divided into governments, of which thirty-two were grand and eight petit. In 1790, by a decree of the Constituent Assembly, it was mapped out de novo into eighty-three departments. In 1804 the number of departments was increased to 107, and in 1812 to 130. In 1815 the territory was reduced to eighty-six departments, and continued so till 1860, when Savoy and Nice were added. The present number is eighty-seven.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894