Areal and dialectal divisions
The areal of Old French in contemporary terms corresponded to the northern parts of the Kingdom of France (including Anjou and Normandy, which in the 12th century were ruled by the Plantagenet kings of England), Upper Burgundy and the duchy of Lorraine. The Norman dialect was also spread to England and Ireland, and during the crusades, Old French was also spoken in the Kingdom of Sicily, and in the Principality of Antioch and the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Levant.
As part of the emerging Gallo-Romance dialect continuum, the langues d'oïl were contrasted with the langue d'oc (the emerging Occitano-Romance group, at the time also called Provençal), adjacent to the Old French area in the south-west, and with the Gallo-Italic group to the south-east. The Franco-Provençal group developed in Upper Burgundy, sharing features with both French and Provençal; it may have begun to diverge from the langue d'oïl as early as the 9th century, and is attested as a distinct Gallo-Romance variety by the 12th century.
Dialects or variants of Old French included:
- Burgundian in Burgundy, then an independent duchy whose capital was at Dijon;
- Picard of Picardy, whose principal cities were Calais and Lille. It was said that the Picard language began at the east door of Notre-Dame de Paris, so far-reaching was its influence;
- Old Norman, in Normandy, whose principal cities were Caen and Rouen. The Norman conquest of England brought many Norman-speaking aristocrats into the British Isles. Most of the older Norman (sometimes called "French") words in English reflect its influence, which became a conduit for the introduction into the Anglo-Norman realm, as did Anglo-Norman control of Anjou and Gascony and other continental possessions. Anglo-Norman was a language that reflected a shared culture on both sides of the English Channel. Ultimately, the language declined and fell, becoming Law French, a jargon spoken by lawyers that was used in English law until the reign of Charles II of England. Norman, however, still survives in Normandy and the Channel Islands, as a regional language;
- Wallon, around Namur, now in Wallonia, Belgium;
- Gallo of the Duchy of Brittany;
- Lorrain of the Duchy of Lorraine.
Some modern languages are derived from Old French dialects other than Classical French, which is based on the Île-de-France dialect. They include
Angevin, Berrichon, Bourguignon-Morvandiau, Champenois, Franc-Comtois, Gallo, Lorrain, Norman, Picard, Poitevin, Saintongeais and Walloon.