The municipality is the smallest French administrative subdivision but is also the oldest, because it succeeded the towns and parishes of the Middle Ages. It was established in 1789 before experiencing initial autonomy with the 5 April 1884 law, a municipality charter.
The mayor is the executive of the municipality that he represents and manages its budget. He employs the municipality's personnel and has local competence (schools, town planning, social action, streets, school transport, collection of household waste, sewerage, etc.).
He is also an agent of the State for the functions of civil status, public order, the organisation of elections and the issuance of regulatory titles.
At 1 January 2010, there were 36,682 municipalities, including 36,570 in Metropolitan France.