Every year since 2011, France has been the most visited country in the world. Indeed, it welcomed 83.7 million tourists in 2014, much more than the second most visited country in the world in 2014, America, with 67 million tourists. The fascination the whole world seems to have for France can be explained by the fact that the biggest luxury brands in the world happen to be French (Hermès, Chanel, Dior, Vuitton, Cartier…), as well as being one of the leading countries in Haute Cuisine, the cuisine of high level establishments and gourmet restaurants. On top of those two fields, France is also well-known for its museums, such as the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay or even Versailles, that host some of the finest artworks in the world.
The most visited places of the country are, of course, in or near Paris.
The most visited place in France is the Disneyland amusement park, just 32 kilometres east from Paris; this park welcomes more than 15 million tourists a year, and is the first European touristic destination.
The second most visited place in France is the Louvre Museum, one the largest museums in the world (210 000 square meters), that hosts hugely famous paintings such as Mona Lisa or The Raft of the Méduse; this museum greeted nearly 9 million of tourists in 2011.
3. Eiffel tower
Next, comes the castle of Versailles, were King Louis XVI, his wife Marie-Antoinette and his family lived before being decapitated during the French Revolution; this castle attracted 6.7 million tourists in 2011.
5. Centre Pompidou
Finally, the fifth place on the list is the Pompidou Museum, with 3.6 million visitors in 2011; this museum is the only one in Paris dedicated to Modern Art (XXth and XXIst centuries).
However, there is much more than Paris to visit in France, and many cities welcome a lot of visitors every year.
The first touristic city in France is Paris, of course, with 30 million visitors a year, due to its plethora of museums and luxury stores on the Champs-Elysées.
In second position comes the city of Lyon, with 6 million visitors a year: Lyon is one of Frances’ oldest cities, and has numerous Roman-era ruins, such as baths or theatres.
The third most visited French city is Lourdes, with also 6 million visitors a year, but for entirely different reasons: Lourdes happens to be pilgrimage city for Christians, as it is said that a girl saw the Holy Virgin there; since then, more than 2000 people claimed to have been miraculously cured from lethal diseases after making a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
In fourth position comes the city of Toulouse, with 5.6 million visitors a year; this city is also called “the Pink City” due to its brick-made houses.
Finally, the fifth most visited French city is Nice, on the French Riviera. It is visited by 4.3 million people each year, attracted by the turquoise sea, the 300 days of sun every year, but also by the hope of pumping into superstars, as a lot of famous singers, movie stars or models spend their vacations there (Eva Longoria, U2 singer Bono, Cara Delevingne…).
However, due to the financial crisis France is still going through and the extremely high taxes, 85% of the French spend their vacations in France, and visit the places I’ve listed above. Only 15% of the French travel abroad, and the majority of these prefer to spend their vacations in neighbouring and cheap Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, Spain or Croatia, whereas only a minority spend their vacations in far-away countries, such as Asia, Costa-Rica or the American West-Coast.
– by Marin E.