Vive la France!

The loveable country of France has once again claimed the title as the world’s top tourist destination. Last year, the nation that inexplicably worships Jerry Lewis, Mickey Rourke and all the fine things in life drew 70 million tourists, according to French tourism officials. This is up a healthy three million visitors over the previous year. Tourism industry profits totalled a hefty $31.2 billion.

For those who have never been to France, the first question may be “Why?” The popular image of France as a nation filled with arrogant, rude people is mainly an American ( and perhaps British) construct. Yet with that popular misconception, France still sits at the top of the tourism heap, in an age when many people are more interested in how many cable stations they’ll get in their hotel suite.

Of course, a trip to France explains it all. There aren’t many countries where the people know how to simply live so well, and they are more than willing to share the experience so long as you don’t expect things to be as they are at home. Food, wine, music, art, architecture, scenery: France simply offers the visitor a way of life that is unparalleled.

Many people who visited Francmore than a few years ago would return saying that they enjoyed the country and appreciated its beauty, but wouldn’t go back because of the “language problem.” This barrier has all but been removed in the past few years, as most French people under the age of about 50 have studied English extensively in school and speak it surprisingly well. As for Jerry Lewis, perhaps you can ask someone to explain the phenomenon on your next visit, in English.