Tourism / Transport
With 83 million foreign tourists in 2012, France is ranked as the first tourist destination in the world, ahead of the US (67 million) and China (58 million). This 83 million figure excludes people staying less than 24 hours, such as North Europeans crossing France on their way to Spain or Italy. It is third in income from tourism due to shorter duration of visits. France has 37 sites inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List and features cities of high cultural interest, beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquillity (green tourism). Small and picturesque French villages are promoted through the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (litt. "The Most Beautiful Villages of France"). The "Remarkable Gardens" label is a list of the over 200 gardens classified by the French Ministry of Culture. This label is intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks. France attracts many religious pilgrims on their way to St. James, or to Lourdes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées that hosts several million visitors a year.
France, especially Paris, has some of the world's largest and renowned museums, including the Louvre, which is the most visited art museum in the world, the Musée d'Orsay, mostly devoted to impressionism, and Beaubourg, dedicated to Contemporary art. Disneyland Paris is Europe's most popular theme park, with 15 million combined visitors to the resort's Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park in 2009.
With more than 10 millions tourists a year, the French Riviera (or Côte d'Azur), in south-east France, is the second leading tourist destination in the country, after the Paris region. It benefits from 300 days of sunshine per year, 115 kilometres (71 mi) of coastline and beaches, 18 golf courses, 14 ski resorts and 3,000 restaurants. Each year the Côte d'Azur hosts 50% of the world's superyacht fleet.
Another major destination are the Châteaux of the Loire Valley, this World Heritage Site is noteworthy for its architectural heritage, in its historic towns but in particular its castles (châteaux), such as the Châteaux d'Amboise, de Chambord, d'Ussé, de Villandry and Chenonceau. The most popular tourist sites include: (according to a 2003 ranking visitors per year): Eiffel Tower (6.2 million), Louvre Museum (5.7 million), Palace of Versailles (2.8 million), Musée d'Orsay (2.1 million), Arc de Triomphe (1.2 million), Centre Pompidou (1.2 million), Mont Saint-Michel (1 million), Château de Chambord (711,000), Sainte-Chapelle (683,000), Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg (549,000), Puy de Dôme (500,000), Musée Picasso (441,000), Carcassonne (362,000).
Électricité de France (EDF), the main electricity generation and distribution company in France, is also one of the world's largest producers of electricity. In 2003, it produced 22% of the European Union's electricity, primarily from nuclear power. France is the smallest emitter of carbon dioxide among the G8, due to its heavy investment in nuclear power. As a result of large investments in nuclear technology, most electricity produced by France is generated by 59 nuclear power plants (75% in 2012). In this context, renewable energies are having difficulty taking off. France also uses hydroelectric dams to produce electricity, such as the Eguzon dam, Étang de Soulcem, and Lac de Vouglans.
The railway network of France, which as of 2008[update] stretches 29,473 kilometres (18,314 mi) is the second most extensive in Western Europe after that of Germany. It is operated by the SNCF, and high-speed trains include the Thalys, the Eurostar and TGV, which travels at 320 km/h (199 mph) in commercial use. The Eurostar, along with the Eurotunnel Shuttle, connects with the United Kingdom through the Channel Tunnel. Rail connections exist to all other neighbouring countries in Europe, except Andorra. Intra-urban connections are also well developed with both underground services (Paris, Lyon, Lille, Marseille, Toulouse, Rennes) and tramway services (Nantes, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Montpellier...) complementing bus services.
There are approximately 1,027,183 kilometres (638,262 mi) of serviceable roadway in France, ranking it the most extensive network of the European continent. The Paris region is enveloped with the most dense network of roads and highways that connect it with virtually all parts of the country. French roads also handle substantial international traffic, connecting with cities in neighbouring Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Andorra and Monaco. There is no annual registration fee or road tax; however, usage of the mostly privately owned motorways is through tolls except in the vicinity of large communes. The new car market is dominated by domestic brands such as Renault (27% of cars sold in France in 2003), Peugeot (20.1%) and Citroën (13.5%). Over 70% of new cars sold in 2004 had diesel engines, far more than contained petrol or LPG engines. France possesses the Millau Viaduct, the world's tallest bridge, and has built many important bridges such as the Pont de Normandie.
There are 464 airports in France. Charles de Gaulle Airport, located in the vicinity of Paris, is the largest and busiest airport in the country, handling the vast majority of popular and commercial traffic and connecting Paris with virtually all major cities across the world. Air France is the national carrier airline, although numerous private airline companies provide domestic and international travel services. There are ten major ports in France, the largest of which is in Marseille, which also is the largest bordering the Mediterranean Sea. 12,261 kilometres (7,619 mi) of waterways traverse France including the Canal du Midi, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean through the Garonne river.
Depending on the purpose of your travel to France, there are different types of visas that will apply to the occasion. Whether you are planning to go on a visit, study or work and reside there permanently, you will have to apply for a different France Schengen Visa, accordingly.
You can apply for the France Visa since 1997 when France, as a Member of the European Union, also became a member state of the Schengen Area. Monaco – a European microstate/city-state located within France – is considered part of the Schengen Area although it did not officially sign the particular documents of the agreement. Besides, no border control is performed for the Schengen countries surrounding it!
On the other hand, Andorra as another microstate located between France and Spain performs border controls, therefore to enter it you should obtain a multi-entry Schengen visa since you should enter the Schengen Area while going or leaving Andorra.
Stat: As per 2014, France has issued a total of 2,613,995 uniform Schengen visas.
Stat: As per 2015, France has issued a total of 2,997,410 uniform Schengen visas from 3,356,165 visa application received. The Visa rejection rate was 9.9%.
Who does and who don’t need a Visa to enter France?
Not to every foreigner and not for every territory of France applies the same visa policy. As such, visa exemptions are greatly influenced by dissimilar factors, where the major ones are: foreigner’s nationality, the territory of the France that the applicant seeks to visit, foreigner’s residence status in Schengen Area or specifically in France, the purpose of visit, as well as duration of stay.
- French European Territory
- French Overseas Départments or Regions (DOM)
- French Overseas Territories (TOM)
Who Needs a French Visa to Enter and Stay in European French Territory?
France is part of the Schengen Area. Therefore, its European territory is a complementing part of other territories: of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, also members of the Area.
Learn HERE who CAN travel to the European French Territory without a French Visa and who NEEDS to get one for entering and staying there.
Who Needs a French Visa to Enter and Stay in French Overseas Départments or Regions?
The following foreign nationals are FREE to travel WITHOUT French Visa for a short stays (up to 3 months) to Guadeloupe (and its dependencies: Saint Martin, Saint Barthélémy), French Guyana, Martinique, Réunion:
- Schengen Area member countries,
- Costa Rica,
- El Salvador,
- Hong-Kong (titulaires du passeport de la Région administrative spéciale seulement),
- Macao (titulaires du passeport de la Région administrative spéciale seulement),
- New Zealand,
- South Korea,
- The Holly See,
- United Kingdom,
- United States,
- Uruguay and
*Note: Nationals of the above listed countries CAN enter and stay in French Overseas Départments or Regions WITHOUT a French Visa, except for the following categories of foreign nationals, who MUST have a French Visa to stay in those territories:
- Nationals of the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Venezuela or Singapore who aim to work in these territories,
- Nationals of the United States who: aim to study there, hold a diplomatic or official or other service passport and aim to stay in these French territories in a diplomatic or official mission there, as well as those who aim to stay there for journalism purposes
All other foreign nationals of the excluded countries from the above list, CANNOT enter or stay in French Overseas Départments or Regions WITHOUT undergoing the French Visa Application procedure and getting the appropriate French Visa.
Who Needs a French Visa to Enter and Stay in French Overseas Territories?
The following foreign nationals are FREE to travel without a French Visa for a short stays (up to 3 months) in French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia and its dependancies, (Terres Australes et Antarctiques françaises (TAAF)), Mayotte, Saint Pierre et Miquelon:
- Costa Rica,
- El Salvador,
- Hong-Kong * (passport holders of the special administrative area exclusively),
- Macao* (passport holders of the special administrative area exclusively),
- New Zealand,
- South Corea,
- United States and
Nationals which can enter in the French Overseas Territories WITHOUT a French Visa but CANNOT stay more than three (3) months or ninety (90) days there, come from the following countries:
- Schengen Area member countries,
- Saint Marin,
- The Holly See and
- United Kingdom.
General required documents for a France Visa Application:
- Download the France Visa Application form, fill it completely and with sincerity. You can also fill the France Schengen Visa application form electronically and then print a hard-copy.
- 2 photos must be attached; the photo should be of passport format – a recent whole-face capture with a light background. Learn more about photo requirements and specifications for a French Visa.
- Your passport and copies of your previous visas – valid for at least 3 months beyond return date – are required. Your passport must have at least two blank pages.
- A copy of your return-ticket reservation. It is not recommended to purchase the ticket before obtaining the visa – if not otherwise required
- Travel visa insurance confirmation of minimum 30,000 € coverage within France and the entire Schengen area
- A cover letter stating the purpose of a visit to France and itinerary
- Flight ticket reservations. Find out how to get a flight reservation for France Visa Application without paying the actual flight.
- Proof of accommodation for your entire stay in France. Book a hotel in France online!
- Proof of civil status (marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, death certificate of spouse, ration card if applicable)
- Means of subsistence – Proof of sufficient financial means for the period of stay. As the European Commission specifies, any foreigner seeking to enter France, since 19 June 2014, when applying for France Visa must be able attesting to the France Embassy or Consulate possessing the daily money amount of 120€ if holding no proof of prepaid accommodation. If the applicant has a prepaid hotel, then this amount reduces to 65€/daily for the period of covered hotel accommodation, while the rest is 120€. Also, in case the applicant proofs cheaper forms of accommodation the amount decreases to 32.25€/ day.
- Employment contract
- Current bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Leave permission from the employer
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary
- A copy of your business license
- Company bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
If a student:
- Proof of enrolment
- No-objection certificate from school or university
- Pension statement of the latest 6 months
- Regular income generated by property proof of the latest 6 months
List of additional documents required for the most frequent purposes of the France Visa Application:
French Tourist Schengen Visa:
- Invitation letter with the address and phone number from family member or sponsor – if applicable
- Bank statement of the last 6 months
- Passport copies
France Visa for Business Purposes:
- Invitation letter from the French company you will be visiting and their detailed address accompanied with the dates of your visit
- A certificate from your employer stating/allowing your business travel
- If there were previous trade relations between the two companies, proof of such events must be provided
- Business bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Memorandum and Article of Association in original certified copy (registered with joint stock companies) Trade License (first issued and present renewal), Proprietorship/Partnership documents
- Regarding the applicant’s expenses during stay in the Schengen zone, either the employer or the partner company must state coverage of expenses on the letter or invitation.
French Embassy Information
French General Consulate
6A Cromwell Place
Telephone: 020 7073 1250
Fax: 020 7073 1246