Cultural tourism in France: A cultural and economic challenge

Published on 28.11.2016
50% of international tourists refer to visiting cultural sites among their main activities when staying in France. 60% of the French population state, when they go to an event or a cultural facility, is during their holidays (source Ministry of Culture, key figures 2016).
les Français et le tourisme culturel
© Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication

In France, tourism represented 7.5% of the gross domestic product in 2015, two million jobs and a positive contribution to France’s trade balance (more than €2 billion in 2016). As a tourist destination, France remained in first place in the world in 2015, with 84.5 million tourists from abroad, and the fourth highest in terms of income (€41.4m). In the Paris Region, 426,000 people are employed in the different sectors of activities of tourism, representing 9.3% of paid employment in the region. Apart from this considerable economic contribution, tourism also represents a formidable vector of appeal and influence.

Paris Region is also steeped in heritage, just like its history after the royalty decided to settle there permanently. In addition to Versailles and Fontainebleau, both registered on the World Heritage List, numerous other chateaux are open to the general public: Compiègne, Rambouillet, Chantilly, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Ecouen, Pierrefonds and Malmaison.

The fortified town of Provins is also listed on the World Heritage List thanks to the international fairs held there in the mediaeval period, signs of which are still clearly visible today. It should also be noted that several works by Le Corbusier including the Villa Savoye in Poissy, managed by the National Monuments Centre, have also been recognised by UNESCO.

Paris features a truly outstanding heritage, unique in the world, and is recognised by UNESCO through the city’s inclusion on its World Heritage list. "By tracing the path that takes in the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the place de la Concorde, the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, the changing face of Paris and its historical evolution are clearly viewable from the Seine river. Notre-Dame Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle are architectural masterpieces. As for the wide squares and avenues built by Haussmann, they have influenced urbanism from the end of the 19th century and the 20th century throughout the world" (UNESCO).

The French capital is home to some of the most famous museums in the world. The Louvre, the world’s largest art museum, is also one of the most visited, with 7.3 million tickets sold in 2016, in other terms, a daily average of 20,000 people with almost 70% of them being foreign visitors. Paris is a concentrate of leading museums in a number of different fields: Orsay for impressionism, Pompidou for modern art, Guimet for Asian Art, Branly for indigenous art, Galliera for fashion, the Cinémathèque for cinema, the Jeu de Paume and the Maison européenne de la photographie for photography, the Palais de Tokyo for contemporary art, etc.