Why the French are happy to holiday at home


in Paris

It is Ascension Day weekend, the start of the French summer, and by early last evening roads into Paris were blocked for several miles. On the inner ring road, the traffic was almost stationary. Most of the same cars would have taken part in the procession out of Paris on Wednesday evening that was even slower: jams of 15 miles were reported on the motorways to the south.

Where the British traffic reports talk of ports and airports being jammed for Bank holiday weekend, France talks about the roads. One glance at the figures explains why: as a proportion of the population, far fewer French people travel abroad on holiday than from any other industrialised European country.

Where almost 60 per cent of Germans or Dutch went abroad last year, 50 per cent of Belgians or Irish, and about 40 per cent of Britons or Danes, only 12 per cent of French people left the country. This low figure represents a large boost to the French exchequer in the francs that would otherwise be exchanged for foreign currency and spent abroad. The exchequer benefits even more from foreign tourists, to the tune of 60bn francs (pounds 8bn). Last year there were 63 million foreign tourists, more than one for every inhabitant of France, making it the most popular holiday destination in the world.

Any French person will tell you why relatively few people go abroad on holiday: France has everything: sea and mountains, beaches and forests, yachting harbours and ski slopes. It has a range of climate zones, and regions and landscapes. It is stuffed with cities and sites of cultural interest and has food and drink that rivals any in the world. But without denying any of these arguments - which explain why 26 million Britons are expected in France this year - there could be another reason - many French people have not developed a taste for travel, they do not travel well and they feel better in France.

As a result, the foreign travel industry seems far less extensive than in Britain. Moreover, destinations on offer tend to be in the Francophone world, enabling them to travel and yet remain culturally at home.

The government certainly thinks there is a problem about French people and ''abroad''. It is having difficulty persuading workers to move there, even temporarily.

In his statement to parliament last week, the Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, found time to reproach his fellow-countrymen thus:

''It is a source of regret that the fact of our relatively large population does not encourage more French people to serve their country abroad, because French expatriates are the face of our country in the four corners of the world."

Latest figures say that fewer than two million French people (2.5 per cent of the population) live or work abroad, compared with 7 per cent of Germans or 10 per cent of Italians.

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn