For many people, whether French or international visitors, the word 'culture' is synonymous with the Paris Region in the hearts of not only French nationals, but also international visitors: the very mention opens up an entire world of possibilities. A world that has evolved from our history, our heritage and our lifestyle, all of which are envied worldwide. Our region has so many outstanding artists, creatives, designers, companies, museums and festivals.
Art and culture are more vibrant in the Paris Region than anywhere else, which means that everyone, regardless of age and personal preference, can experience the same level of excitement and enjoyment. As the world's favourite tourist destination, the Paris Region is also Europe's largest urban cultural centre.
Our entire region is packed with cultural centres, theatres, chateaux such as Fontainebleau and Ecouen, the cathedrals of Paris and Saint-Denis, and so many other cultural gems that deserve to be more widely known. Culture exerts a powerful appeal, and provides us with an opportunity to gather here and enjoy it together, whether we come from France or further afield.
That is why the Region is lending its support to the "Saison culturelle 2017" (Cultural Season 2017) in the context of its partnership with the French government and the City of Paris, in the same way as we already do in tourism. After all, the challenges are convergent: to promote our expertise and our communities, to drive economic growth and to improve our appeal as a destination.
Cultural tourism is fully consistent with our ambition to become a multilingual smart region. It is also central to our new strategy of promoting easy access to cultural resources for everyone in the Paris Region, as well as our relaunch plan, one of the highlights of which will be a multilingual app designed to guide tourists around the city and its region and help them to find the cultural activities they are interested in.
I am in no doubt whatsoever that the rich diversity, exceptional quality and bold ambition of our "Saison culturelle 2017" will prove irresistible to French and international visitors, and guide them as they discover our wonderful region.
President of the Regional Council for the Paris Region