The Cité des Sciences, the Eiffel Tower, the domain of Versailles… These sites are a real cultural showcase in our country and abroad and logically attract crowds.
France, the world’s leading tourist destination – except in 2021 – can quickly be verified in the attendance figures for its tourist sites (1). Theme park, museums, historic buildings: in France, there is something for everyone. Here are the ones that attract the most visitors, in ascending order, according to centralized and verified data from the Directorate General for Enterprise in 2018.
Parc Astérix (Plailly): 2 million visitors
The first theme park on this list is Oisien: it is Parc Astérix, inaugurated in 1989 in the town of Plailly, in Hauts-de-France. Dedicated to the universe of Asterix and Obelix, it is one of the most visited amusement parks in Europe. It welcomes more than two million people every year.
The Medieval City (Carcassonne): 2.1 million visitors
With its 52 towers and three kilometers of ramparts, the medieval city of Carcassonne (Occitanie) attracts curious people eager for medieval culture. Preserved from abandonment and deterioration, it was restored for fifty years in the 19th century. It has been classified since 1997 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Puy du Fou (Les Epesses): 2.2 million visitors
Unique in its kind, the Puy du Fou has immersed its visitors since 1989 in a universe made up of Vikings, knights and other warriors from the Middle Ages. The park honors the history of the Vendée, a department which today benefits from this tourist influx. In 2017, Puy du Fou welcomed more than 2.2 million people.
The City of Science and Industry of La Villette (Paris): 2.4 million visitors
Who said that the scientist no longer interested the French? The Cité des sciences, opened in 1986 and since elevated to the rank of national museum, welcomes hundreds of thousands of curious visitors avid for scientific and technical knowledge each year. The complex, with an area of 150,000 square meters, is full of fun, visual and auditory activities.
The Musée d’Orsay (Paris): 3.1 million visitors
Located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, the former Gare d’Orsay offers its visitors a range of works of art to contemplate: painting, sculpture, photography, etc. Its Beaux-Arts architectural style and its proximity to the Louvre Museum make this establishment an essential tourist site to visit during a trip to Paris.
The Pompidou Center (Paris): 3.3 million visitors
Eternally criticized for its colorful and quirky architecture, the Pompidou Center is nonetheless one of the most popular and visited tourist sites in France. The museum now hosts a large number of exhibitions and temporary collections, in addition to housing the Public Information Library, inaugurated in 1977 and today the first public reading library… in Europe.
The Eiffel Tower (Paris): 6.2 million visitors
It needs no introduction: the Eiffel Tower is THE cultural symbol of France abroad. Its iron construction completed in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exhibition in Paris culminates at 312 meters, which earned it the title of the tallest monument in the world until 1930 and the inauguration of the Chrysler Building in New York . If it attracted nearly 6.2 million people in 2018, it has accumulated nearly 300 million since the completion of its construction.
The Estate of Versailles (Versailles): 7.7 million visitors
The Palace of Versailles, its park and its classical architecture continue to attract tourists from all over the world. It must be said that it has arguments: 64,110 square meters of surface, 3000 rooms and more than 2000 windows as well as an area with an area of 660 hectares. Dizzying figures and at the height of the palace, main residence of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI.
The Louvre Museum (Paris): 8 million visitors
Difficult to find the appropriate qualifiers to describe the Louvre, the most visited museum in the world in 2018 and the most frequented cultural site in France. The figures also make you dizzy: more than 72,000 square meters of exhibition space, nearly 400 rooms open to the public and around 480,000 works displayed for the pleasure of the public. For all these reasons, it welcomes more than eight million visitors every year, three quarters of whom are foreigners.
Disneyland Paris (Chessy): 14.8 million visitors
The most visited French tourist site is neither a museum nor a monument, but an amusement park: Disneyland Paris, which only has Paris in name since it is located about thirty kilometers east of east of the capital, at Chessy in Seine-et-Marne (and not at Marne-la-Vallée, which houses the RER station providing access). With its two theme parks (Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios), its six hotels, its 16,000 employees and its fifty attractions, the park is one of the busiest in the world. In total, it has welcomed just over 300 million people since it opened in 1992.
(1) Methodology: this ranking comes from a study published in 2018 by the Direction Générale des Entreprises, the “mémento du tourisme”, which notably includes a ranking of the most visited tourist sites in France based on the number of entries year round. These figures come from the Ministry of Culture and date from 2017.