From the romance of the Parisian streets and the charm of Normandy’s coastal towns to the prestige of Bordeaux’s châteaus, the thrill of the Alps’ slopes, and the sophistication of the French Riveria, the allure of France is undeniable. So it’s no surprise that it’s on track to become the most visited country by 2025, when 93.7 million international travelers will enter the country annually, according to new data from GlobalData.
While Spain had edged out its neighbor in 2021, France is on track to reclaim the title it had long held before the pandemic with a 12.1 percent compound annual growth in visitation between 2022 and 2025, the data analytics company said. (Spain’s growth is expected to rise to 89.5 million by 2025.)
“Visitation to France and Spain will remain strong in the years to come, with festivals, culture, and gastronomy being a big pull for tourists,” GlobalData travel and tourism analyst Hannah Free said. “Both countries have a lot to offer visitors, with their own unique cultures, cuisines, and atmospheres. Both countries are also relatively large, with a diverse and varied landscape, and each country has its own unique coastline.”
Indeed it’s that wide range of offerings that makes the country so coveted for both first-timers and return visitors. “France as a destination offers something for everyone—history, city, sea, mountains, beaches, gastronomy, wine country,” Gail Boisclair of Perfectly Paris says. “This country has everything!”
The news is no surprise to the country itself, since President Emmanuel Macron introduced the Destination France Plan in 2021 to lock the European nation in as a global tourism leader. “With the Destination France Plan, the French Government intends to set an actual road map for the development and transformation of the tourism sector over the next 10 years,” Anne-Laure Tuncer, director of the country’s tourism board Atout France USA says, noting a particular emphasis on a goal toward being the top sustainable destination by 2030. “France is investing heavily in innovation, attracting new talents in the hospitality industry, and providing the training to best welcome these visitors, especially with the Rugby World Cup taking place this fall and the Summer Olympic Games in 2024.”
The commitment toward pushing forward the tourism infrastructure can already be seen, Tuncer says, citing hotels like Le Grand Contrôle on the Château de Versailles grounds, the recently opened Anantara Plaza Hotel in Nice, and the eco-friendly Les Sources de Cheverny and the palace-turned-resort Fleur de Loire in the Loire Valley.
Thoughtfully developed cultural sites have also made their debut, such as the renovated 18th century palace Hôtel de la Marine in Paris, the prehistoric underground cave Grotte Cosquer in Marseille, or the epicurean wonderland of La Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin in Dijon. A new kind of destination experience—La Vallée de la Gastronomie—features three regions banding together to focus on a gastronomic journey. Even the iconic French baguette received a UNESCO designation last year.