The French are Exploring France

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1. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1923 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

I read an article today in the WSJ which says that the French instead of flying off to Polynesia are doing trips at home. They find France very expensive (the French are frugal), but unexpectedly nice as a vacation destination.

I notice a lot of people are saying that they are staying closer to home for their trips this year. So I am not surprised that the French are doing the same - but I find it surprising that it was enough different from the norm to be significant

Stuck at Home Because of Covid, the French Discover France
Coronavirus border closures mean the French have the Eiffel Tower and the Chateau de Versailles to themselves. They’ve decided to see what all the fuss is about.


About a third of French tourists go abroad every year, according to Didier Arino, the director of Protourisme, reinforcing their reputation as indefatigable wanderers. They travel to remote Indonesian islands or countries like Myanmar that have only recently reopened to tourism, seeking the thrill of discovery. It’s an ethos captured by Guide du Routard, France’s de rigueur travel guide, which depicts an adventurer carrying a rucksack in the shape of a globe on its cover.

This year, Guide du Routard has scrambled to expand its collection promoting France’s hinterlands. New volumes are dedicated to the Somme department, where French and British forces fought Germany in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, and the Champagne region, known more for its sparkling wine than as a holiday abode. Its website features “walks at the gates of Paris” and “the most beautiful cycle paths in France.”

Tour operators are also shifting gears. Nomade Aventure, a firm that last year sent 12,000 French tourists to destinations like Madagascar and Kyrgyzstan, has begun renting vans, equipped with kitchens and double beds, to people who want to tour France. That’s a similar service offered to visitors to Namibia or Tanzania, said Managing Director Fabrice Del Taglia.

Victorien Masson, a 24-year-old law student from Paris, recalled feeling “sad and a little pissed” when the pandemic forced him to interrupt his trip around the world. Five months into his journey, he flew back to Paris from Australia and turned his sights to France.

Money was an issue. Youth hostels in France were 13 times as expensive than Nepal, Mr. Masson says. And one dinner at a French bistro was equivalent to about five meals in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Masson settled on taking a 250-mile bike ride along the Loire River, a route that is visited every year by tens-of-thousands of travelers, including large contingents of Dutch and British tourists.

Mr. Masson and three friends stocked up on camping supplies before setting out on a 10-day journey through the countryside with stops at Chambord and Chenonceau, majestic castles that hug the riverbank.

“I had no idea,” Mr. Masson said.

More than 85 million foreign tourists visit France each year, including about five million Americans. International air traffic to France dropped by 85% in May, the latest available data, according to Atout France, the national tourism development agency.

The unusually large number of French tourists visiting France does not make up for the absence of big-spending Chinese, American and Russian visitors. Faced with a shrinking pool of visitors, some of France’s most illustrious destinations find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having to hustle for foot traffic.


Jean-Gabriel Baron, a 26-year-old finance manager at Quitoque, a food delivery company, traveled around the world for six months in 2015 and has visited over 50 countries. But the pandemic forced him to cancel his plans to honeymoon in Brazil, which would have seen him and his fiancée trek through lush forests in the country’s northeast. Now, the couple is planning to spend about 10 days in Provence, sipping rose in Nice and wandering through medieval villages.

“Never been,” said Mr. Baron, who grew up in the Loire Valley. “I’ve always told myself there would be too many tourists.”

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jul-2020, 20:55 GMT by greatgrandmaR ]

2. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1923 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

As you may know, I have both traveled and moved around a lot. I count that I moved seven times before I was married and 14 times in the next 20 years after marriage. (This is not trips - this moving - sometimes renting furnished or unfurnished houses, and sometimes buying a house). I also moved two more times after the first 20 years when I was working full time. Most of the time after marriage I was not gainfully employed on a full time basis, although I did have four children in the 20 years. By the time I got to the third move, I realized that I should see the local sights of wherever I had gotten to starting right away - as soon as I got the sheets on the bed and the dishes in the cupboard. Otherwise, Inertia would set in, and I would not see anything of where I was living before the next move. After I started having children, I dragged them along too.

In the above article on the French, I see the inertia I speak of. I also see on here people saying - well I can't "travel" so I have gone to the places near where I live and I wonder why I never visited this place before.

So how about it? Isn't that what everyone is doing?

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Jul-2020, 04:05 GMT by greatgrandmaR ]

3. Posted by hennaonthetrek (Respected Member 722 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

It's similar in here too, and newspapers, social media etc are full of articles about "How to find best hidden gems near your home" or "Top 5 spots to visit near home".

I admit that I "suffer" for that so called inertia..It is just so simple after work to get lost in the "To do list" around the house..specially now when we have the renovation going on and at the same time we need to get our cabin in order to get it on market (we are going to sell it..).
Somehow it just easier to explore around while you are away from home! :)

But I am happy that I got to walk the archipelago trail this summer which I have meant to do for years :) (it actually goes by our cabin....)

4. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1743 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

I've always been a nomad and made a point of exploring at every move. As a result, our kids all like to travel too. We currently live in California and it would be nearly impossible to live here and not travel around the state since there are so many wonderful sights here, coast, dessert, mountains, Yosemite, Death Valley, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and so many other places a little bit more off the beaten tourist path.

That said, because of the virus, we are currently staying home so have traveled less this year the same at any time I can remember. Must admit, we're kind of enjoying the break too. Doing a lot of reading and painting.

I've seen similar articles on France. It's such a diverse country they have lots of opportunities to stay in France and still experience a completely different environment. That's one reason we keep returning to France almost every year. That, and the food.

5. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1923 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

The thing that I found especially interesting was that they thought that it was worth mentioning in the Wall Street Journal that the French were visiting France - a whole article about how unusual that was. It was only about France - not about Italy and not about England but just France. Did Italians mostly travel to Italy before they went off to France or Switzerland?

Here in the US I think that most people, if they travel at all, will visit other places in the US with maybe an excursion to Canada or Mexico. Most people don't even have passports. Back in the day you could even get on a cruise ship to the Bahamas or the Caribbean with just a Birth Certificate and a driver's license.

Before the EU I would think that most Europeans would have a passport. How usual is it for the citizens of Europe to have a passport?

6. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 1377 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

I think far more Europeans have a passport than do Americans (I have no evidence for this, I should add, it's just based on what I've read and heard). Remember how much smaller our countries are than yours, and also how easy it is to travel between them, especially on mainland Europe within the EU - there are no borders at all, so driving from France to Germany, say, or Italy is as easy as driving somewhere else in France. Even in the UK, I can reach Paris by train in less time than it takes us to travel to Newcastle / Cornwall / the Lake District / many of our other beauty spots.

I think too that there is more of a culture of travelling abroad here than in the US, and also we get more holiday time off from work than most of you do, so travelling further afield is easier to fit into our calendars.

7. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 2560 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

>Did Italians mostly travel to Italy before they went off to France or Switzerland?

Of course not. It's just the article's spin on the fact that far more EU citizens, regardless of country, (including the UK, because we're still in transition) are likely to spend their holidays in their own country this year due to Covid and its impact.

> How usual is it for the citizens of Europe to have a passport?

'Europe' is a continent of 50+ countries. It's impossible to make one generalised statement about a continent which includes countries such as Belarus and Moldova, where passport numbers are likely to be very low indeed.

So, assuming by 'Europe' you mean the 28 European Union countries, having a passport is common in all of them though less common in the poorer countries (to need a passport you must have the financial means to travel outside your own country). There are no internal land borders between the 26 Schengen countries (some of which are not in the EU) but a passport or official ID card (issued by some EU countries but not all) is necessary to enter any of them by air and in all of them it must produced if requested.

An EU citizen must show a passport or official ID card to enter any non-Schengen EU/EEA country (e.g. the Republic of Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria) by any means of transport. And a passport is, of course, required to enter any non-EU/EEA country.

Aa an example, about 76% of UK citizens have a passport. The UK has never been in the Schengen Area but has no official ID card anyway. The UK and the Republic of Ireland operate a Common Travel Area, so it is possible to fly or take the ferry from the UK to Ireland with photo ID such as a driving licence. There are no formal border checks between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

8. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1923 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

I realize that poor countries will have less travelers than richer countries. And I agree with Sarah that many US citizens do not have passports and have never traveled outside the USA. Some have never traveled outside their own state. (Of course some of our states - Texas, California and Alaska for instance are as big as some countries.)

And also I know that because of current restrictions, many people from all areas are mostly doing any traveling within their own area.

What I wondered about was why pick on the French? Sometimes I have heard that the French are rude. I never found that to be true myself. And they also are reputed to think that France is the most important country and French is the best language to speak. So is this article kind of poking fun at the French for being so uppity?

9. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2291 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

Quoting greatgrandmaR

Some have never traveled outside their own state. (Of course some of our states - Texas, California and Alaska for instance are as big as some countries

That reminds me of a time when I was on the island of Jersey, it's what I would call a small island, split into half a dozen parishes comprising villages, and one small sleepy town St Helier. Our local friend was in his sixties and didn't fancy our idea of a Saturday evening drink somewhere on the waterfront, and told us of two old ladies he knew, sisters who had lived in their parish all their lives and had never been into St Helier. To them it sounded a huge and dangerous place.

10. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2291 posts) 44w Star this if you like it!

I've read that the percentage of Americans with passports has increased hugely following 9/11, as prior to that they could travel to a lot more "local" places such as Bermuda without one.

Apparently in 1990 it was 6%, now it's 42%. And again apparently that compares to 66% of Canadians and 76% of British.

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