Wine is already one of France’s main exports, but now it could hold the key to injecting some much-needed cash into the country’s economy. That’s the hope of Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, who this week announced plans for a new Tourism Investment Fund.
He hopes to boost the numbers of foreign visitors to France from 84 million a year to 100 million a year by 2020.
“Tourism is a national treasure,” he said at the launch of the fund. “Wine is an important sector to attract foreign customers into our beautiful wine-growing regions.”
Among other things, the new fund would help finance tourist facilities in vineyard areas. M. Fabius also hopes to persuade international French TV companies to broadcast documentaries about the various regions of France.
France has been the world’s top tourist destination for 30 years, but visitors tend not to spend as much as they do elsewhere. Tourists in the US, for example, shell out €1,860 a head during their stay, while visitors to France spend a comparatively paltry €560.
For me, France has long been a destination for wine holidays. I’ve been on three wine-tasting trips there over the years. The first was a weekend in Champagne. The following year we spent several days in Burgundy and, a year later, four days in Bordeaux.
From, ahem, what I can remember, those holidays were great fun and educational at the same time. That they came with some first-rate wines that I might never have tasted otherwise is a bonus. A night as guests of the Château Pommery and visits to the Château Mouton-Rothschild and the Hospices de Beaune rank as highlights of the three trips.
M. Fabius would also be pleased to hear that we spent a lot of money while we were there. Perhaps more importantly, we have bought almost only French wine since then.
“In south-west France, where we spend our holidays, vineyards don’t need his fund. They are already very welcoming.”
In south-west France, where we spend our summer holidays, local vineyards don’t need his fund. They are already very welcoming.
Dropping in as you pass by is completely acceptable, and even welcomed. There’s an implied agreement that you’ll buy at least one bottle – and, hopefully, more – so you get a personal introduction to the wines from the vineyard owner him or herself.
That’s something I think we can all drink to.