Tourism in France

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France was visited by 84.7 million foreign tourists in 2013, making it the most popular tourist destination in the world.[1] It is third in income from tourism due to briefer visits. 20% more tourists spent less than half as much as they did in the United States.[2]

France has 37 sites inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List and features cities of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost, but also Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, and others), beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquillity (green tourism). Small and picturesque French villages of quality heritage (such as Collonges-la-Rouge or Locronan) are promoted through the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (litt. "The Most Beautiful Villages of France"). The "Remarkable Gardens" label is a list of the over two hundred gardens classified by the French Ministry of Culture. This label is intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks.

In 2012, travel and tourism directly contributed EUR77.7 billion to French GDP, 30% of which comes from international visitors and 70% from domestic tourism spending. The total contribution of travel and tourism represents 9.7% of GDP and supports 2.9 million jobs (10.9% of employment) in the country.[3] Tourism contributes significantly to the balance of payments.


Arrivals by country

Most tourists arriving to France in 2014 came from the following countries:[4]

Rank Country Number of tourists
1  Germany 12,800,000
2  United Kingdom 11,800,000
3  Belgium 9,300,000
4  Italy 7,500,000
5   Switzerland 6,200,000
6  Spain 6,100,000
7  Netherlands 5,500,000
8  United States 3,200,000
9  China 1,700,000
10  Luxembourg 1,400,000
Number of stays

Most nights spent in France in 2014 by tourists from following countries:[5]

Rank Country Number of nights
1  Germany 86,400,000
2  United Kingdom 79,700,000
3  Belgium 59,500,000
4  Netherlands 43,600,000
5  Italy 42,700,000
6  Spain 34,700,000
7   Switzerland 33,600,000
8  United States 27,600,000
9  Portugal 12,000,000
10  Algeria 11,400,000


The Eiffel Tower from the Place du Trocadéro

Paris, the capital city, is the third most visited city in the world.[6] Paris has some of the world's largest and renowned museums, including the Louvre, which is the most visited art museum in the world, but also the Musée d'Orsay, mostly devoted to impressionism, and Beaubourg, dedicated to Contemporary art. Paris hosts some of the world's most recognizable landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, which is the most-visited paid monument in the world,[7] the Arc de Triomphe, the cathedral of Notre-Dame or the Sacré-Cœur. The Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie is the biggest science museum in Europe.[8] Located in Parc de la Villette in Paris, France, it is at the heart of the Cultural Center of Science, Technology and Industry (CCSTI), a center promoting science and science culture. Near Paris is the Palace of Versailles, the former palace of the kings of France, now a museum.

French Riviera

Saint-Tropez on the Côte d'Azur.

With more than 10 million tourists a year, the French Riviera (or Côte d'Azur), in south-eastern France, is the second leading tourist destination in the country, after the Parisian region.[9] According to the Côte d'Azur Economic Development Agency, it benefits from 300 days of sunshine per year, 115 kilometres (71 mi) of coastline and beaches, 18 golf courses, 14 ski resorts and 3,000 restaurants.[10] Each year the Côte d'Azur hosts 50% of the world's superyacht fleet, with 90% of all superyachts visiting the region's coast at least once in their lifetime.[11]


A large part of Provence is designed as the 2013 European Capital of Culture. Numerous of famous natural sites can be found in the region, as the Gorges du Verdon, the regional natural park of Camargue, the national park of calanques and the typical landscape of Luberon. Provence hosts dozens of renowned historical sites like the Pont du Gard, the Arles' Roman Monuments or the Palais des Papes in Avignon. Several cities also attracts a lot of tourists, like Aix-en-Provence, Marseille or Cassis, on the Mediterranean Sea coastline.

Loire Valley

Château de Chenonceau (Loire Valley).

An other major destination are the Châteaux of the Loire Valley, this World Heritage Site is noteworthy for the quality of its architectural heritage, in its historic towns such as Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Nantes, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours, but in particular for its castles (châteaux), such as the Châteaux d'Amboise, de Chambord, d'Ussé, de Villandry and Chenonceau, which illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the French Renaissance.

Notable French cities

The Capitole de Toulouse by night

France has many cities of cultural interest, some of them are classified as "Town of Art and History" by the French Ministry of Culture.

The most beautiful villages of France

Locronan in Finistère, one of "The most beautiful villages of France".

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France ("The most beautiful villages of France") is an independent association, created in 1982, that aims to promote small and picturesque French villages of quality heritage. As of 2008, 152 villages in France have been labelled as the "Plus Beaux Villages de France".

There are a few criteria before entering the association: the population of the village must not exceed 2,000 inhabitants, there must be at least 2 protected areas (picturesque or legendary sites, or sites of scientific, artistic or historic interest), and the decision to apply must be taken by the town council.

Other parts of France

In the eastern parts of France there are skiing resorts in the Alps.

Tourists also travel to see the annual cycle race, the Tour de France.

France's Mediterranean beaches on the French Riviera, in Languedoc-Roussillon, or in Corsica, are famous. Away from the mainland tourists are French Polynesia (especially Tahiti), the Caribbean islands Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy.

The Route Napoléon, the route taken by Napoléon in 1815 upon his return from exile, leads from Golfe-Juan to Grenoble in south-eastern France. It is a scenic byway and a popular destination.[18]

Also popular are the memorials to the battles of the First and Second World Wars. Memorials to the former include the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, while commemorations to the latter include a D-Day museum at Arromanches, one of the landing sites.

There are too a lot of great naturals sites, with important flora collections. For example, the federal Arboretum de Pézanin gather one of the richest forest collection in France, or the Regionals natural Park, which are dispersed in all the territories.

Religious pilgrimage

France attracts many religious pilgrims on their way to St. James, or to Lourdes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées that hosts a few million visitors a year. The Taizé Community has become one of the world's most important sites of Christian pilgrimage. Over 100,000 young people from around the world make pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work.

Theme Parks

Attraction at the Puy du Fou theme park.

Disneyland Paris is France's and indeed Europe's most popular theme park, with 15,405,000 combined visitors to the resort's Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park in 2009.[19] The historical theme park Puy du Fou in Vendée is the second most visited park of France.[20] Other popular theme parks are the Futuroscope of Poitiers and the Parc Astérix.

Most popular sites by number of visitors

The Château de Versailles and its gardens are the third most popular site of France by the number of visitors

The most popular tourist sites include (visitors per year):[17][21]


The polychrome roofs of the Hospices of Beaune
Limestone cliffs in Étretat, Normandy
The Pont du Gard, a Roman vestige. 
Millenary abbey in Cluny
Ski resort in Megève
Ruins of the medieval castle of Bourbon-l'Archambault
Castelbouc near Sainte-Enimie (Tarn
The Verdon Gorge is a popular destination for kayaking
Surf in Hossegor
The Rock of Solutre, Grand Site de France

See also


  1. "UNWTO Highlights" (PDF). United Nations World Tourism Organization. Retrieved 11 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Dilorenzo, Sarah (July 20, 2013). "France learns to welcome, to speak 'touriste'". The Burlington Free Press. Burlington, Vermont. pp. 5A. Retrieved July 20, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "2013 Travel & Tourism Economic Impact Report France" (PDF). World Travel & Tourism Council. Retrieved 2013-11-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Visiteurs internationaux en France en 2014
  5. Visiteurs internationaux en France en 2014
  6. "France". 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2013-09-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Leading Travel Zone Site on the Net". Retrieved 2013-09-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Arfin, Ferne (11 January 2009). "France: Insider's guide to Paris". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "The French Riviera Tourist Board". Retrieved 23 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Côte d'Azur Economic Development Agency. p. 31
  11. Côte d'Azur Economic Development Agency, p. 66
  12. Entry on Historic Site of Lyons - UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites
  13. UNESCO World Heritage Site. City of Lyon official website. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
  14. "Metz municipal council, April 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 6 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Official website of France tourism survey, 2011 Museum frequentation" (in français). Retrieved 30 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Route Napoleon". Retrieved 2013-09-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "2009 Theme Index. The Global Attractions Attendance Report, 2009" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-02. Retrieved 7 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Weekend Breaks: the Vendée's Puy du Fou < Travel & Tourism | Expatica France". Retrieved 23 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Fréquentation des musées et des bâtiments historiques" (in français).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Les chiffres clés du tourisme dans les Bouches-du-Rhône - Tourisme- Conseil général des Bouches-du-Rhône – Cg13 Marseille". Retrieved 2013-09-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Official website of Moselle tourism office, 2011 key numbers. p 12" (PDF) (in français). Retrieved January 2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links