The beautiful corners of France that the French don’t want you to know
France attracts more international tourists than any other country: nearly 90 million visitors per year, placing Spain in second place and the United States in third. What is less well known is that it also attracts more domestic tourism than any other place in Europe; of the French who go on vacation, around 80% do so in their country. This shouldn’t come as a surprise – if the whole world finds your home attractive, why go anywhere else?
Metropolitan France indeed shares borders with eight Western European countries, which gives it Flemish, Germanic, Spanish and Italian influences. And once you add its world-class coastlines, mountains, lakes and rivers, historic castles and art galleries, famous wine regions, iconic cuisine, rugby and cycling, a visit is a must. evidence.
French vacations are serious business too. Ever since the Popular Front government granted paid leave in 1936, the French have viewed taking their vacation as akin to exercising a political right – and a right that must be properly exercised.
Given the variety and size of their land, the French tend to favor simple pleasures. They have a few man-made attractions – the historic Le Puy du Fou theme park, Disneyland Paris, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, DJ David Guetta – but less dependent on them than other nations. Walks, hikes, biking and surfing are a tough summer competition, as is food and drink. The evening aperitif is as unchanging as the sunset.
And the French bring a sense of entitlement to it. They spend little time apologizing or worrying about doing a wrong thing – on the contrary, they usually give the impression that they are rating vacation activities out of 10. In fact, they take the whole thing with them. a cold conviction that, quite frankly, we Brits – apologetically and hesitantly around the world – could possibly learn some lessons. Here’s how.
To hear the French speak, you might think that they spend all their holidays exploring prehistoric sites, developing their knowledge of Romanesque architecture or surveying the Pyrenees. A few do, but there is plenty left to fill the beaches from the Côte d’Azur to the Atlantic coast and Brittany.
And, boy, do they do it consistently. If you see a Frenchman staggering on the sand with his family, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s moving. It will be festooned with an inflatable dolphin, an inflatable flamingo, two coolers, protective glasses, countless nets, bottles, snowshoes and snowshoes, two umbrellas, a bag overflowing with towels, ointments and the rest of the bathroom rental contents, several copies of OK magazine, plus hats, balls and fins for everyone. Minimalism is not part of the French beach experience.