17 reasons why France is so popular France recorded 83.
7 million visitors to their country last year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Only ray ban official one other nation surpassed 70 million mark the US, with 74.8 million, while plucky Britain trundled home in eighth place, with 32.6 million people heading to our shores not that much more than a third of the total going to France. Looked at another way, that means one country garners around eight per cent of the world's total number of international tourists (around 1.133 billion last year). How bonkers is that? Countries where tourists outnumber locals These days the story is similar, although the numbers vary wildly remember what they said about lies, damned lies, and statistics? According to the Foreign Office, 17 million British nationals go to France every year. In fact, if you take the ONS's word for it, we now love Spain even more with their spreadsheets showing more than 12m Britons went there in 2014. That's a figure accepted by Abta, the association of travel agents and tour operators, who believe Spain was already proving more popular than France way back in 2002. But France will always be up there. As Abta spokesman Sean Tipton says, "Ever since the British starting heading overseas for their holidays, France has been among their favourite destinations millions of UK holidaymakers still head off over or under the channel each year." 2. And so does everyone else in Europe According to official statistics, tourism from within Europe accounts for more than 80 per cent of visitors to France and it's not even the Brits who go most. It's hardly arduous for British visitors either, with Eurostar, Eurotunnel, and a relentless procession of ferries linking us to mainland Europe. France is not, however, the country with the most borders in Europe. Germany actually has nine (Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) but has suffered from something of an image problem among British visitors for many years (a perception, incidentally, that at last seems to be shifting). And Russia and China have a whopping 14 borders each both welcome a notable number of tourists, but nowhere near as many as France. "Paris is always a good idea", says Audrey Hepburn in the 1954 movie, Sabrina. As her character intimated, Paris has been the most romantic destination in the world in the popular imagination for time immemorial, a perception reinforced by films such as Amelie in more recent years. But recently it's had stiff competition from its outre manche rival, London, when it comes to visitor numbers backed up by some fighting talk from the London mayor, Boris Johnson. London vs Paris: which is better? Watch Audrey Hepburn extol the virtues of the French lifestyle We're talking quality, not quantity here. France actually lags behind some countries in terms of the sheer number of UNESCO World Heritage sites (Italy has the most with 51, with France in fourth place on "just" 41). But it's the profile and raw appeal that counts, as Anthony again points out. "Few other nations have so well looked after their past cathedrals, chteaux and what have you so that it's present in the present," says Anthony. "Then again, few other nations, also, are so little talented in presenting this past in an engrossing, or even interesting, manner. But sites like the Loire chteaux or Mont St Michel are strong enough to resist even the French drive to crashing historical tedium. So we all go all the same." Mont St Michel: Simply magnifique The best chteaux of the Loire Valley, France 8. The burgeoning Chinese market This is perhaps not as big a factor as you may have thought but ray ban outdoorsman the French have done much better than the UK at encouraging visitors from China, a big spending market with enormous potential. In 2013, there were 1.7 million visitors from China, up a whopping 23.4 percent on the previous year. It's almost 10 times the amount of Chinese tourists attracted to the UK during the same period, with many put off by red tape and tricky to come by visas a situation that the Home Office has attempted to remedy, if a little belatedly. In 2010, France was the first nation to have its gastronomy recognised ray ban aviator glasses by UNESCO as "intangible cultural heritage", reinforcing the imperious reputation of French cuisine. But is it still the case, or is it just stubborn reputation? Luxembourg actually has more Michelin stars per capita. And the opening of a Burger King in Paris caused much more of a fuss than you would credit for a nation so proud of its culinary heritage. Why is French food so boring, asked Lizzie Porter in an article earlier this year. Sacr bleu! Whatever the case, the perception remains the same Yes, those young guns in the New World ray ban cats 5000 are giving France a run for its money on the wine making front. But will sparkling wine ever have the same cachet (a French word, perhaps not entirely coincidentally), as Champagne? Or claret? Burgundy? The list goes on French wine: a cheat's guide to holiday drinkingThis one is up for debate. A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Organisers to France (ABTOF), wrote to me: "As a country France is fully equipped for welcoming tourists. Tourist information centres are everywhere, most attractions are multilingual or have audio guides in multiple languages." Well, that may be so, but we're not sure all visitors to Paris find quite so "fully equipped". Certainly not Telegraph Travel's Joanna Symons, who last year advised British visitors against asking directions in the city: "Don't do so unless you're prepared for a cold shower of Parisian scorn. Locals will either ignore you completely, look at you as if you've just crawled from under the nearest kerbstone or answer in impenetrable rapid fire French then walk off before you can ask them to repeat it. If you do get lost, look for another tourist to help you.
" Perhaps, Georges Clemenceau, the French Prime Minister in the early 20th century offered a clue as to why, once saying: "English is just badly pronounced French." The 12 worst things to do in Paris ABTOF explains: "One country can offer three very different coastlines (channel, western and Mediterranean), several mountain ranges (Alps, Pyrenees, Jura, Massif Central and extinct volcanos in the Auvergne), a very wide spectrum of food, wines and beers, different climates.".
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