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Grand Tour Launch: culture as a major vehicle of tourism in France!

Laurent Fabius gave the starting signal

On January 14th, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, Ambassador of Cultural Attractiveness, and Isabelle Huppert, Godmother of the Grand Tour, all gave the starting signal of France’s cultural tour, a tour of 43 encounters that will take place over the next 6 months in France, until July 2016.

Rédigé par Saliha Hadj-Djilani translated by Joséphine Foucher le Lundi 18 Janvier 2016

Olivier Poivre d'Arvor, Isabelle Huppert and Laurent Fabius during the launch of the Grand Tour at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 14, 2016 - Photo SHD.
Olivier Poivre d'Arvor, Isabelle Huppert and Laurent Fabius during the launch of the Grand Tour at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 14, 2016 - Photo SHD.
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In such a context was “Le Grand Tour” created and organized, an expression that makes sense, especially towards foreign tourists, according to Olivier Poivre d’Arvor: “I have lived abroad a lot, almost more than in France, and the expression ‘Grand Tour’ can be understood everywhere, and especially by Anglo-Saxons, as I’ve noticed. Tourists will not go to France only for the restaurants and museums. They will truly do a Grand Tour of France to explore it better, and differently.”

The Grand Tour is based on one simple observation: France is a leading touristic destination thanks to its important cultural radiance.

“France is the first touristic destination in the world with 85 million visitors when it only accounts for 1% of the world’s population. It is also the third country to welcome the most Foreign students.

France was never grander than with culture. Through its own, largely shaped by ‘new arrivals’ such as Vinci, Picasso, Brook or Kundera, but also through its unique capacity of welcoming cultures from the world, declared Laurent Fabius, this Grand Tour offers around forty different encounters throughout the country.

They were also chosen for their contribution to this cultural attractiveness, a driver of the economy and tourism, that is also a subject of our diplomacy of influence.

Thanks to a network of 163 embassies in the world, and their cultural representations, we are going to make the agenda and route of this Grand Tour known all over. While in 2015 we witnessed our country and many citizens in love with freedom and music, cartoonists and visitors in Paris, scarred in their hearts, it is essential to remind people that without culture, France would not be respected, loved, or visited like it is today.”

Cultural Events: the true DNA of the Grand Tour

Out of the forty events of the Grand Tour program, some have been around for a long time such as the Festival des Vieilles Charrues, the Printemps de Bourges, or the Festival of Avignon, while some events were specifically created for the occasion.

“In choosing the different cultural events of the Grand Tour and in the programming of the different spots, it was important for foreign performers and artists to feel welcomed. Also, it was necessary for the events to rouse the interest of audiences coming from abroad, explains Olivier Poivre d’Arvor. Because, indeed, there exists a purely French offer that does not attract a foreign clientele.

It was crucial to ask ourselves why a foreigner would want to attend one festival or another. Then, we took into account what I call ‘world brands’, with for instance Angoulême for comic-books, Marciac for the jazz festival.

The objective is for foreign tourists to come to France not only for the museums or Versailles, but to enjoy their stay in France and discover something else culturally.

We also wanted to highlight events that are less Parisian or from the province, such as the Fêtes Maritime that gather thousands of boats and 700,000 people to Brest every 4 years, yet still very few people, from abroad and in France, know of this event.

Visitors will be informed of everything through a small passport detailling the full agenda of all these Grand Tour events. This program will travel in many languages throughout every country, where their French Embassy and services will dedicate a portion of their energy in encouraging foreigners to visit France.”

Cultural attractiveness with well-functioning drivers

The forty events of the Grand Tour revolve around key drivers of French cultural attractiveness.

World Humanity Heritage List (UNESCO)

2016 is a year where many sites will be highlighted for the purpose of their candidacy to the UNESCO, while others will continue to be, as they already make the list.

Indeed, 2016 celebrates the 20 years of the Canal du midi being listed, the 25 years of the Seine Banks and monuments of Reims, the 35 years of the Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay, the Roman and Romanesque monuments of Arles.

Simultaneously, the Chaîne des Puys and Corbusier’s work will be presented to the UNESCO for the purpose of joining the UNESCO list. Throughout the Grand Tour, the 41 sites already listed in France and that attract more than 60 million visitors annually, from the Mont-Saint Michel to the Champagne vineyards along with the Chauvet cave, will be accentuated, without forgetting the 11 listings to the Cultural and Immaterial Heritage of Humanity such as the famous French cuisine.


Emblems of France’s cultural diversity, French museums attract millions of visitors every year: 9 million at the Louvre, world record visitor number for a museum, 7.5 million for the Château de Versailles, between 3 and 4 million for the Centre Pompidou or Musée d’Orsay.

Historical Monuments

The cultural richness of France also rhymes with must-see national monuments that close to 50 million visitors discover every year: the Eiffel Tower, Arc of Triumph, Pantheon, Sainte-Chappelle, the American cemetery of Omaha, Sainte Cécile d’Albi Cathedral…

Amusement Parks

Over 30 million tourists enjoy one or many amusement parks every year. Disneyland is in the lead with 15 million entrances, but Puy du Fou, Parc Astérix, or Futuroscope also attract 1 million visitors annually.

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