Worldwide vacationers could prioritize visits to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre once they go to France.
However French residents produce other concepts.
Border restrictions in the course of the pandemic largely gave locals the possibility to discover their nation with out international vacationers, which in 2019 numbered some 90 million.
The French didn’t squander the chance. Greater than two-thirds of French residents traveled in 2021, with 84% of France’s metropolitan residents selecting to remain throughout the nation, in response to the French tourism advertising and marketing analysis agency Raffour Interactif.
As the need for nature and out of doors actions grew in the course of the pandemic, a number of areas emerged as high locations amongst native vacationers, stated Maud Bailly, the CEO of southern Europe for the multinational hospitality firm Accor, which has greater than 1,600 accommodations in France.
Home vacationers had been drawn to the coasts of Brittany — or Bretagne in French — due to the “the ocean [and] the wideness of the panorama,” she stated. The northwest province is dwelling to charming seaside cities, similar to Cancale and the walled port metropolis of Saint-Malo, well-known for its gastronomy and historical past.
On the southern facet of the nation, the famed French Riviera — notably the stylish coastal areas close to Cannes and Good — attracted native guests for a similar causes, she stated.
Whereas Covid pummeled tourism in French Polynesia, some islands nearer to the mainland drew many native vacationers, stated Bailly. Ile de Re, off France’s west coast, fared effectively due to its proximity to Paris — it is lower than 5 hours away by automobile, she stated — whereas guests additionally went to the “tremendous well-known, improbable” island of Belle Ile within the north, in addition to Corsica within the south.
“When individuals are going to Corsica … they’re texting me [saying] ‘it is no use going to Maldives as a result of the water appears to be like the identical,” she stated. She spoke to CNBC from the Lodge Molitor Paris-MGallery the place, she stated, many Parisians had been having fun with staycations.
The Sofitel Golfe d’Ajaccio Thalassa Sea and Spa lodge, positioned in southern Corsica.
From snowboarding within the Pyrenees to diving within the Mediterranean, it is the variety of landscapes and experiences in France — which is about twice the dimensions of Colorado — that make it so fashionable, stated Bailly.
“I consider that the richness of this small nation, with so many various prospects of leisure and vacation in just one place — is a bit distinctive,” she stated.
Secrets and techniques and ‘little gems’
Most locations beloved by the French ultimately change into fashionable with international vacationers too, stated Bailly.
However one exception, not less than for now, is the Alsace wine route.
“You may simply go to Strasbourg after which begin by automobile, leaping from a village to a different one and simply tasting and discovering the wine, the castles … the landscapes,” she stated. “It is fairly secret.”
The small village of Dambach-la-ville, alongside the Alsace wine route.
Alexander Sorokopud | Second | Getty Photos
The key is out on locations similar to Beaune and Macon within the world-renowned wine area of Burgundy. Each had been fashionable with home vacationers final yr, she stated.
Earlier than the pandemic, almost 60% of France’s wine vacationers had been home vacationers, stated Martin Lhuillier, head of wine tourism at Atout France, the nation’s tourism improvement company.
Certainly one of his high “insider ideas” is to go to Jura, one of many smallest wine areas in France, to go to the village of Chateau-Chalon, he stated. There, guests can strive the world’s “coronary heart and soul” — its vin jaune, or yellow wine.
Bailly and Lhuillier each suggest the French division of Dordogne. Positioned between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees, it has “unspoilt pure jewels” like Bergerac and Duras, stated Lhuillier.
Although it is much less stylish than different elements of France, Dordogne is a spot “the place you’ll be able to actually take pleasure in French artwork de vivre, gastronomy and nature,” stated Bailly.
France’s “artwork de vivre” — actually “the artwork of dwelling” — is a part of the explanation that France has for many years been among the many hottest locations for worldwide vacationers. The emphasis on having fun with life is omnipresent — alongside boulevards of Paris, throughout the rooms of the Palace of Versailles and contained in the nation’s eating places, which collectively have extra Michelin stars than some other nation on the earth.
However Bailly stated it is within the “extra secret, discreet locations” that vacationers can actually “relaxation and reconnect to the French way of life.”
The ‘most lovely’ villages
One other place in Dordogne, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, is without doubt one of the latest villages on the checklist of the “most lovely villages in France.”
The checklist, which began 40 years in the past, names 168 villages of outstanding heritage and wonder. Every is evaluated on 30 standards, together with heritage websites and structure in addition to smaller particulars similar to hidden electrical wires. There’s lower than a 1-in-5 likelihood of creating the checklist, in response to the checklist’s web site.
Southern France has the best focus of those villages, with greater than 75% positioned in provinces like Nouvelle Aquitaine, Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur.
The tv present “Le Village Prefere des Francais” — or “The Favourite Village of the French” — additionally attracts guests to lesser-known spots within the nation. Fourteen villages are shortlisted every year — one in every area in France — with the winner topped by public vote.
Final yr’s winner drew extra vacationers: the tiny hilltop city of Sancerre, which is without doubt one of the most recognizable appellations for French Sauvignon Blanc.
The identical will seemingly occur for Bergheim, a village alongside the Alsace Wine Route, which was topped this yr’s winner on Wednesday.
Home tourism to Sancerre elevated in 2021, after it was voted essentially the most lovely village in France.
Julian Elliott Images | Stone | Getty Photos
Bailly stated vacationers can construct a whole journey round these villages.
“It is a extra non-public, home, cultural means of taking a look at France,” she stated. “It isn’t Saint-Tropez, it isn’t Mont Saint-Michel or Eiffel Tower, nevertheless it’s additionally France with the richness of its historical past.”