26 June 2013

Most Popular Tourist Sites in France

Have you been to ?

The 2013 Tour de France will glimpse all 10 of the most visited tourist sites in France, a sure way to highlight and promote tourism in the country. France is after all the #1 tourist destination in the world! Tourism accounts for 6.5 % of France's GDP, with 80 million foreign tourists a year. Plus we all know the entire country goes on vacation themselves in July or August, helping French nationals to contribute more to tourism income than foreign visitors. Wow, they like their own country so much - they stick around on vacation!

The route of the 2013 Tour de France will not only keep Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett busy with their tourist and geography lessons during race coverage, it will offer a great distraction to fans to get out and see some of the nearby marvels. One could actually see all ten top tourist sites, if they moved really fast.

Musée du Louvre in Paris.   ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®
Tour Eiffel in Paris.  ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®
Musée d'Orsay in Paris.   ©Photo by Ken Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®
Arc de Triomphe in Paris.   ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®

Top-10 tourist attractions in France with most tourist visits last year: 
  1. Louvre Museum (8.5 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  2. Eiffel Tower (6.2 million), Structure in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  3. Palace of Versailles (6 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 begins in the gardens (the park is closed for cars on July 21st!)
  4. Centre Pompidou (3.6 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  5. Musée d'Orsay (2.9 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  6. Musée du quai Branly (1.3 million), Museum in Paris; Stage 21 finishes nearby on Champs-Élysées.
  7. Arc de Triomphe (1.2 million), Structure in Paris; Stage 21 will race AROUND the arch on the Champs-Élysées this year instead of in front of it as usual. 

  8. Mont Saint-Michel (1 million), a Tidal Island off the northwestern coast; Stage 11 Inidividual Time Trial will finish at Mont Saint-Michel.
  9. Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseille (800,000), Church in Marseille; Stage 5 will finish in the city of Marseille.
  10. Château de Chambord (711,000), largest Château in the Loire Valley; Stage 12 and 13 will finish and start in Tours, a one-hour drive from Chambord.
Let's not forget some of the other great tourist sites on the route of the TDF this year:

Corisca with it's Calanques de Piana cliffs near Ajacio. Nice and it's Castle Hill and Musee National Marc Chagall. Or the city of Albi with it's landmark Cathedral Ste-Cecile and Toulouse Lautrec Museum. Oft visited Aix-en-Provence or Annecy, and the very cool cities of Vaison-la-Romaine, Montpellier and Lyon.

Trip Advisor ranks the Top-10 regions of France. This year the Tour de France will travel through 8 of the 10 regions missing Limousin and Lorraine:
  1. Provence
  2. Corsica
  3. Dordogne Valley (Limousin)
  4. Brittany
  5. Auvergne
  6. Pyrenees
  7. Alps
  8. Normandy
  9. French Riviera - Cot d'Azur
  10. Vosges (Lorraine)
Regions of France
Trip Advisor also tallied their readers favorite Top-10 destinations in France in 2013: 
  1. Paris
  2. Nice
  3. Cannes
  4. Lyon
  5. Saint-Tropez
  6. Chamonix
  7. Avignon
  8. Marseille
  9. Biarritz
  10. Saint-Malo

Tour de France Stages and Tourism

There are certain stages that are must see in regards to race outcome, but other stages that are worth tuning into if you are a traveler interested in scenery or tourist sites or simply trying to decide where you want to next visit in France.

Below, the "Tourist Stages" are in bold black, with the best "Bike Racing" stages described in red.


Saturday, June 29thPorto-Vecchio > Bastia

Sunday, June 30thBastia > Ajaccio

Monday, July 1stAjaccio > Calvi - a must see stage!

Tuesday, July 2ndNice > Nice - Team Time Trial!

Wednesday, July 3rdCagnes-sur-Mer > Marseille

Thursday, July 4thAix-en-Provence > Montpellier

Friday, July 5thMontpellier > Albi

Saturday, July 6thCastres > Ax 3 Domaines - a must see stage!

Sunday, July 7thSaint-Girons > Bagnères-de-Bigorre - Pyrenees!

Monday, July 8thSaint-Nazaire - Loire-Atlantique

Tuesday, July 9thSaint-Gildas-des-Bois > Saint-Malo

Wednesday, July 10thAvranches > Mont-Saint-Michel - ITT & classic TDF!

Thursday, July 11thFougères > Tours

Friday, July 12thTours > Saint-Amand-Montrond

Saturday, July 13thSaint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule > Lyon

Sunday, July 14thGivors > Mont Ventoux - a must see stage!

Monday, July 15thVaucluse - (I love this area!)

Tuesday, July 16thVaison-la-Romaine > Gap

Wednesday, July 17thEmbrun > Chorges - second and last ITT

Thursday, July 18thGap > Alpe-d’Huez - a must see stage!

Friday, July 19thBourg-d’Oisans > Le Grand-Bornand - (beautiful!)

Saturday, July 20thAnnecy > Annecy - Semnoz

Sunday, July 21stVersailles > Paris Champs-Élysées - a must see stage!

There will be four mountain top finishes this year, and if you are a cycling tourist & big fan - these count as top tourist sites as well:

Stage 8
Saturday, July 6th up Ax 3 Domaines
Stage 15
Sunday, July 14thup Mont Ventoux
Stage 18
Thursday, July 18thup Alpe-d’Huez
Stage 20
Saturday, July 20thup Annecy - Semnoz

Not a bad place to hang out as a tourist - the summit of Mont Ventoux.  ©Photo by Mike Rakestraw for Pedal Dancer®