The Champion of Popularity

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France is the most popular tourist destination in the world, far exceeding any other country. But, as the 2014 was the most successfull year, predicting the 100 million tourists mark very soon, the starts of terrorist attacks ruined the prospects. Now the thing are going back to normal.

The last three months of 2016 saw tourism in France rebound by nearly 4 percent, after a dramatic downturn last year that put the country’s hospitality industry on alert, according to the INSEE national statistics agency. The number of overnight stays among French nationals rose 4.3 percent in the third quarter of 2016, as compared to the same period in 2015, while stays among foreign visitors increased by 2.9 percent. INSEE said those figures offset the decline (-1.8 percent) experienced between 2015 and 2016.

SO, GO BACK TO FRANCE, GUYS

Well, it all seems to be better now, although in this crazy world nothing can be 100%. We can start planning another trip. But …what makes France such an attractive destination for holiday makers year after year? They say there are six reasons for that. Well, the first reason is – Paris. Paris is always a good idea, they tend to say. The French capital is a huge draw for foreign visitors – over 30 million of them a year in fact, more than any other city in the world.All the reasons are well too known: romanticism, architecture, the Louvre museum, the iconic Eiffel Tower and… the simple things that make life exciting, like sitting in a best café and letting the world and the city go by. The history of attractiveness goes a long wat back for Paris, at the time when it was an artistic capital of the world, and now it is spurred by good transport connections – trains from London, Brussels, Amsterdam and its relative close proximity to America, make it a great escape. The grown up visitors enjoy their share of Paris while the kids have their Euro Disneyland.

The second reason is the plentitude of beaches – it is the reason why there are not many Frech beachgoers in the world. They like their own country. And they can speak French too. You can choose between the Southern coast of Mediterranean, the West windy coast of Atlantic (with was very popular at the times when the people were not that crazy about sunshine) and even a big island of Corsica. If we consider the whole of France, then we open up entirely new doors: Caribbean islands of Martinique, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélémy, Guadeloupe. As for African experiences, try the Indian ocean paradises of Reunion and Mayotte. The French Polynesia, with Bora Bora and Tahiti, are quite another matter – a league of their own.

Week-end au château de Versailles

The third reason might be a bit obvious, but France lies at the crossroads, so you have to pass through it to reach any other destination, so why not stay here a bit? The fourth reason is countryside. As opposed to many industrialised places, where the villages are scarce, around 80 percent of France is countryside – and most of it stunning and tranquil. The small towns like Rene Artois’s Nouvion are something deeply rooted in our collective imagination. Doesn’t matter if those guys are purely fictional.

The fifth reason is of course, food and wine. Beer, if you go north ot northeast, but generally, wine. France is inseparable from its gastronomic and wine traditions. Many of the dishes can be considered clichés, but, what the heck. We all dream about those clichés. And in the end, it’s the art. In fact, France has some 39 sites on Unesco’s World Heritage list, putting it fourth in the global rankings. Only Spain, China and Italy are in front of France. Let someone else finish this. The Lonely Planet’s destination editor Kate Morgan sums it all up like this: “As a destination for travellers, France virtually has it all. France entices people of all ages with some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, world-class art and architecture, sensational food, stunning beaches, glitzy ski resorts, beautiful countryside and a staggering amount of history.”

LESS THRIFTINESS, S’IL VOUS PLAÎT

But do the figures tell the real story of France’s table topping tourism industry? One professional says the numbers are misleading and France needs to do to match the success of the United States and Spain. The visitors don’t spend that much, and that is the next step. To make them less thrifty.

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