The truth is that I have difficulties admitting that France is the first country in the world ranking of visitors, but numbers are there, more than 83 million international tourists in each of the last 4 years.
- I understand and I surrender to Paris, a city that I consider not only the most beautiful in Europe, but also the one that needs more days to get to know it properly. In total I have been 21 days and it’s not only that I want to return, it is that I would like to stay for a month, not to see the Eiffel Tower, Orsay museum, Notre Dame or any of its world famous attractions, but to stroll, enjoy every street, impregnate myself with the city, imagine for a month that I was part of such an architectural marvel. But Paris is “scarcely” 18 million tourists a year, where are the other 65 million?
- These sites are on my to-do list:
- Mount Sant Michell. The spectacular image of the small island crowned by a church is one of the most famous in France and the star of the territory of Normandy.
- Neighbor is the territory of Brittany, famous for its coasts.
- Carjac and especially Carcassonne, extraordinary medieval towns in the south of the country.
- Other architecturally remarkable cities: Bordeaux, Lyon, Touluose… all very beautiful, but in them you’ll have the feeling of being in another, a little different neighborhood of Paris.
- The French Riviera. The Blue Coast between Toulon and Monaco, with well-known cities such as Saint Tropez, Cannes or Nice, receives about 10 million visitors a year, some of them spending huge amounts of money. These locations are the most famous in the world as far as luxury superyacht tourism is concerned, and during the summer almost 50% of them are docked here, what good is it to have a giant yacht if you can not compare it with another rich man’s one? Still I do not think that they reach 10 million, so for ordinary citizens they must also be very nice places.
- Corsica, famous for its beautiful coastal towns, also frequented by yachts, and especially for its mountains, which make it one of the most rugged regions of the continent, housing the GR 20, one of the hardest hiking trails in Europe that I have the pleasure of having hiked all over.
- The Provence, area immediately to the north of the Blue Coast, is also very visited; most travelers take advantage of the proximity of both to explore them together.
- The Loire Valley is famous for its magnificent castles in privileged surroundings.
- The Pyrenees and especially the Alps attract a good number of visitors to ski in winter and to stroll in summer. Here is the highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc, 4810 meters high.
- And let us not forget the overseas territories, where I do have one on my list, French Polynesia, perhaps the most beautiful set of islands on the planet. Along with others such as New Caledonia, Reunion, Martinique or Guadalupe, they give that extra in terms of tropical paradisiac beaches that the continental part lacks, although getting to the best spots is neither easy nor cheap.
All this makes France the most visited country. Still, nowadays, personally I have it in the 8th position of my personal classification, but it is true that I still have much to see. I will have to explore it more to convince myself that it deserves the first place, and I am more than willing to do so.
- GR 20