Tourism in France
With about 82 million tourists in 2007 the number of visitors to France surpassed its population, making France is the most visited country in the world.
The diverse regions of France offer tourists various attractions and activities, from sightseeing and dining in Paris to skiing in the mountain ranges of the French Alps to sunbathing at the Mediterranean Sea. The country has 27 UNESCO “World Heritage” sites and a turbulent past to discover.
The French capital is the most visited city in the world. It is also the capital of culture and art. Its most famous landmark is undoubtedly the Eiffel Tower (with an altitude of 307m), which has become the universal symbol of the city throughout the world. Further major landmarks include the Champs Elyseé with the famous Arc de Triomphe.
More essential Paris monuments and sites of interest include Notre Dame Cathedral, la Grande Arche de la Défense, Versailles Castle, and the Obelisque, which is covered with hieroglyphs and is the oldest monument in Paris.
The Louvre museum is probably the most famous museum in the world. It is divided into seven departments from ancient times to the middle of the 19th century and displays the famous portray of Mona Lisa. The new entrance of the Louvre is marked by a huge glass pyramid. Further major museums include Musée d’Orsay, Musée Picasso, Musée Rodin, and the Arab Institute.
Another major site of interest is the Georges Pompidou Center which houses a museum of modern art, a vast public library and a center for music and acoustic research. The center’s design with metallic structures and glass tubes is particularly striking.
Northern and Northwestern France
Just a short trip from Paris, and across the Channel from England, there is the Normandy with its scenic coastline and rich countryside. It is also a major historic site with significance to North American visitors since it marks the place of the landing of the Allied Troops in 1945. In addition, there is the famous and impressive Mt. Saint Michel Abbey.
The region of the Brittany is famous for hundreds of miles of rocky coastline and little fishing villages. The fairy tale-like countryside is shaped by moors, meadows, and old forests, as well as megaliths, calvaries, old castles, chapels and old villages.
Eastern France is home to one of the most famous and renowned vine growing regions: la Champagne, which produces champagne, probably one of the most sophisticated beverages in the world.
Major cities in Eastern France include Reims and Strasbourg in the Alsace region, which is the seat of the European Parliament. The Alsace region is famous for picturesque half-timbered houses and old castles, medieval villages, wine routes and a traditional cuisine.
One of the major cities in Western France is Bordeaux. The region’s history began thousands of years ago, when cave dwellers left their paintings in sites such as Lascaux. Numerous castles and fortresses are traces of the areas turbulent history.
Eastern France offers visitors prehistoric caves, fortified castles and villages, a diverse landscape at the Atlantic coast, beaches, rolling hills and rivers of the Dordogne, as well as the scenic Pyrenees mountains in the very south.
Major cities at the French Riviera include Nice, Cannes, and Monaco. This region is famous for its sunny climate, coastal fishing villages as well as Mediterranean beach resorts and casinos. One of the most famous sites of interest in southern France is the Popes’ Palace in Avignon.
Another part of southern France is the Mediterranean island of Corsica, which is famous for untouched mountains, forests and coastline. With a turbulent history, the island has a unique heritage with a variety of people, traditions, dialects and a diverse scenic beauty. Major cities in Corsica include Bastia and Ajaccio.
The Rhone-Alps region lies in the southeastern part of France, beneath the impressive Mont Blanc and the Swiss and Italian border. The Mont Blanc with an altitude of about 15,770 feet is the highest peak in Europe. This region is a major French ski resort, and offers great hiking, biking, and outdoor activities. The major city in this region is Lyon, which is famous for its gastronomy and many famous chefs.