France - Tourism, travel, and recreation
France has countless tourist attractions, ranging from the museums and monuments of Paris to beaches on the Riviera and ski slopes in the Alps. Haute cuisine, hearty regional specialties, and an extraordinary array of fine wines attract gourmets the world over; the area between the Rhone River and the Pyrenees contains the largest single tract of vineyards in the world. In 1992 Euro Disneyland, 20 miles east of Paris, opened to great fanfare but was plagued by the European recession, a strong French franc, bad weather, and difficulty marketing itself to the French.
The most popular French sport is soccer (commonly called "le foot"). Other favorite sports are skiing, tennis, water sports, and bicycling. Between 1896 and 1984, France won 137 gold, 156 silver, and 158 bronze medals in the Olympic Games. Paris hosted the Summer Olympics in 1900 and 1924; the Winter Olympics took place at Chamonix in 1924, Grenoble in 1968, and Albertville in 1992. Le Mans is the site of a world-class auto race.
Tourists need a valid passport and a visa to enter France; for a longer stay, police registration and a registration card (carte d'identité) are necessary.
In 1998, France was the world's top tourist destination with an estimated 70 million tourist arrivals. In 2000, tourist arrivals numbered 75,595,376 and receipts from tourism amounted to $29.9 billion. That year there were 589,174 rooms and 1,178,348 beds in hotels and similar establishments with a 60% occupancy rate.
In 2001 the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Paris at $266. Elsewhere in France, daily expenses ranged from $134 to $231.