1st country of destination by international tourist arrivals in 2012
83.0 million visitors per year (+1.4)
TOP TRAVEL DESTINATION: French Republic (République française)
France is an attractive tourist nation in the world. Millions of foreign tourist’s preference for France as made it one of the top travel destinations in the world. The geography of France offers variations for the tourist as they can find mountain ranges, coastlines, cities with a rich cultural heritage, châteaux (castles) like Versailles, and the vineyards and many more. Two thirds of France is mountains and hills, with the Alps, Pyrenees and Vosges ranges.
The archaeological researches show that France has been continuously settled since 950,000 BC. The Celts migrated from the Rhine valley to France in 2500 BC and in about 600 BC Greeks and Phoenicians established along the Mediterranean, Marseille in particular. The vast history of France is also responsible for making it the top travel destination of the world.
As stated above that France is among the top travel destination because of its various geographical beauties, extending to around 1,000 km from north to south and from east to west. The climate varies from place to place:
The northern coastal regions experience a temperate climate much like those of England and the winters are mild with temperatures averaging around 5°C. The warm summer temperatures are in the range of 20°C to 30°C. The weather is unpredictable and rain occurs at any time of year.
The central and inland France has more extreme weather and greater variations between the seasons. Here the winter is difficult with snow and frost likely, while the summers are warmer. The rain fall is low but tends to fall in summer season when the region can often experience thunderstorms.
The south-west of France also experiences mild winters but the summers are much warmer here. There is low rainfall in the region as compared to that of the northern part of France. However thunderstorms are common in the summer season here too.
The Mediterranean coast and Corsica have a typical Mediterranean climate which has the hot summer days and short mild winters. This region of France has the most sunshine hours from eleven to twelve during the summer. Rain is again very low during the summer but when it does rain, it pours the region and that’s too with thunder.
The mountain regions especially the Alps, but also the Massif Central and the Pyrenees at high altitudes experience long and cold winters with substantial snowfall.
The above reasons shows that how the France’s beauty woos the tourist and is one of the preferred top travel destination in the world. France is one of the first countries to create a Ministry of the Environment, in 1971.
The Culture and Religions
France is known for its rich cultural heritage in various fields like art, architecture, music, cuisine, language, and not the least fashion & lifestyle. The population has diverse origins and is home to people with various ethnic backgrounds including Celts, Romans, Russians, Germans, Asians, Africans, North Americans and recent immigrations.
French people are known worldwide for their sophisticated approach towards life, combined with great concern for style, fashion and appearances. France has been an important cultural center of the world for many centuries, with Paris being the hub in the world. Even today, France contributes greatly to the fashion culture of the world which is again a main reason for the France to be the top travel destination in the world.
As France is having mixed cultural background and so is the religion. There are five major religions in France: Catholicism, which is the traditional religion of France, Protestantism, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism.
Places to tour in France
Paris: Paris is said to be one of the most romantic city and is definitely one of the most beautiful in the world. There are many places of interest here but the tour to this city is not complete without admiring the views from the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa and famous artworks at the Louvre, Disneyland Paris etc.
Bordeaux: Bordeaux is one of France’s main wine regions, and is famous for its drop of red. There is a lot more on offer for the non-drinkers. The beautiful mountains of the Pyrenees, great beaches and many medieval period towns and castles to name just a few highlights of about the place.
Avignon: Avignon is referred to as the "City of Popes" because of the presence of popes and antipopes from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism. Avignon is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a great place for those into their history. The walled city has museums, a historic bridge, the massive medieval fortress and a palace to explore.
Corsica: An island and region of France in the Mediterranean Sea, southeast of France and west of Italy. The visitors flock to the island of Corsica to bask in the Mediterranean sunshine and laze on the sand. Mountainous Island in the sea, Corsica is also called Island of beauty, not without reason but because of the diversity of its scenery, and its preservation from the aggressions of development and tourism, makes it one of the most important tourist spot of the Mediterranean Sea.
Lyon: Founded by the Romans, with many preserved historical areas. Lyon is the archetype of the heritage city, as per UNESCO. Lyon is also much known for its tasty cuisine. With a great cultural and art vibe, some great nightlife and interesting museums, Lyon will leave you more than satisfied.
Nice: Nice is one of the largest cities of France. Despite the beaches being pebbled, the coast is still among the most beautiful in Europe. The ancient local language is Nissart, but of course, everyone speaks French.
Marseille: Founded by the Phoceans (from the Greek city of Phocea) in 600 B.C. and is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Cosmopolitan Marseille lies on the Mediterranean coast and has a reputation for great weather all year round, awesome shopping, and tasty restaurants.
Picardy: Picardy is a region in northern France, located immediately north of the Paris. Although largely inland, the region does border the English Channel near Abbeville. Many attractions are designed after the famous Asterix comic strips by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo.
Provence: With hills covered in herbs and flowers, Provence has long inspired artists – from Van Gogh to Picasso. The region covers a large area from the Mediterranean French Riviera up to the French Alps.
When to go
France weather is the best for the tourists during the spring months of May and June or at the beginning of autumn in September and October. The folks pour in during the summer vacation during July and August, making it the worst time to visit if you’re not keen on crowds and also the higher prices.
Travelling in France
Air – You can travel easily around the country by air and there are a number of France airlines that provides the domestic services.
Water – State-run car ferries connect the larger islands on the Atlantic coast with the mainland; they also sail regularly across the mouth of the Gironde.
Rail – With a network of over 34,200 km rail lines (and over 12,000 km of that electrified), you’ll find the trains a great way to get around France. Find out about rail passes for travel through France.
Road – The first thing to remember if you’re hiring a vehicle is that the traffic drives on the right.
Organized tours – Organized tours are a great way to see the sites and soak up the local culture – especially if you’re travelling alone or are a first-time traveller. Check out some of the options for tours in France.
Major Airports in France