OBJECTIVE To explore the socioeconomic and health resource characteristics associated with geographical variations of lithium and clozapine dispensing rates in France. METHOD The study was performed using reimbursement data from the French Insurance Healthcare system over the period 2006-2013 in a community-based sample of persons aged 16 years and over. An ecological design was used to assess whether lithium and clozapine prescribing rates were associated with socioeconomic and health resource characteristics of the zone of residence (n = 95 French administrative subdivisions). RESULTS Large geographical disparities were observed in dispensing rates: lithium dispensing rates by zone of residence ranged from 0 to 6.6 per 1000 (mean 2.4 per 1000) and clozapine dispensing rates ranged from 0 to 4.9 per 1000 (mean 0.8 per 1000). Higher density of GPs and regular communication between mental health services and primary care were independently associated with higher rates of lithium and clozapine dispensing and with a higher proportion of lithium users among mood-stabilizer users. CONCLUSION A sufficient density of GPs and an effective communication and collaboration between mental healthcare services and primary care seems to favor greater access to psychotropic drugs with demonstrated efficacy but often viewed as 'risky' to prescribe.