France is the world’s most popular holiday destination and, in 2015, nearly half of its 84.5 million foreign tourists cited culture as one of the main reasons why they had chosen to visit the country.
Foreign visitors comprise two-thirds of all people entering French museums. Given the worldwide appeal of Paris, the museums of the Île-de-France region (which represent 11% of the total museums in France) received 59% of all visitors in 2014. Five museums are responsible for 39% of the country’s museum visits:
- Louvre Museum: 9.1 million visitors
- Versailles (palace, museum and gardens): 7.7 million visitors
- Georges Pompidou Centre: 3.5 million visitors
- Musée d’Orsay: 3.5 million visitors
- The Army Museum (Hôtel des Invalides): 1.5 million visitors
In 2015 the Louvre was once again the most visited museum in the world, even though its total number of visitors fell to 8.7 million.
An analysis of the number of visitors to national monuments, which totalled 9.2 million in 2015, shows a similar trend: together, the 16 monuments that individually attracted over 100,000 visitors accounted for 80% of all visits to national monuments. In 2015, the Arc de Triomphe remained the most visited monument (with 1.77 million visitors), followed by the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel (1.27 million visitors) and the Sainte-Chapelle (903,048 visitors) (source: CMN).
Live spectacles, such as music festivals and biennials, can also prove to be a decisive factor in attracting tourists to the country. Furthermore, they can significantly raise the profile of the local area, Marciac and Bourges serving as perfect examples of territories whose reputations have spread as a result of their staging an international festival. Just as the most famous monuments and museums continue to attract a multitude of visitors to cities and towns, live spectacles are a particularly effective way of drawing culturally-inclined holiday-makers to more rural areas.
Live music is particularly popular right now, with 6 out of 10 people in France claiming to attend at least one music concert or festival per year (source: Midem 2014). With 1,885 live contemporary music festivals spread across France, the importance of the live music industry to the country’s overall cultural appeal cannot be underestimated (source: Sacem – Contemporary Music Festival Barometer 2015). The French festival scene is also pleasingly diverse, with fans of every music genre catered for and the festivals themselves taking place in a variety of settings, from countryside villages to the largest cities.