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France Will Limit Tourists At Popular Attractions To Combat Overtourism

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Marseille Among Those Keeping The Visiting Numbers Under Control

Several towns in France have taken the sudden surge in tourism into their own hands by implementing limits on the number of visitors. Marseille is one of the most significant cities to take action.

marseilla seaside

The French countryside has long been an iconic destination for foreigners. Its rolling landscapes, picturesque villages, and of course, vineyards have drawn millions away from Paris in recent years. 

The pandemic saw city dwellers seeking respite from the heavy lockdowns in the villages, causing immense overcrowding, trash issues, and even damage to the local ecosystems. To help counter this, many of the villages and towns have implemented quotas and limits for their most popular attractions. 


One of the most notable of these was in Marseille, France’s second-largest city, where the Calanques National Park has had its daily visitor quota dropped drastically. In previous years, three thousand visitors a day were allowed to the stunning natural wonder. Now, with the new rules in place, only five hundred will be allowed access.

The park saw a lot of damage last year, when Parisians left the city for a respite from some harsh lockdowns. Many of the park’s flora and fauna were destroyed by the crowds. The town of Etretat, which is nestled between some of the cliffs in the park, found itself overrun with visitors. 

The village is typically very quiet, but was covered in trash, traffic, and noise from outsiders, impacting the daily lives of its residents. Landslides also became more common, and huge volumes of beach pebbles were being washed away with erosion.

marseilla cathedral

In the South of France, towns and islands are taking similar measures. The popular island of Corsica has brought in limits on its three biggest attractions. Visitors will now to need to book a reservation online in advance, before getting to enjoy any of the three sites being controlled. The sites are the Lavezzi Islands, Restonica Valley and Bavella Needles. Lavezzi is only allowing two thousand visitors a day.

corsica island

Even in areas where numbers are not being directly controlled, measures are being taken. A recent program installed in 2020 saw the government and tourist boards collaborate with the navigation app Waze. Visitors to the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur who used the app were prompted with suggestions if a landmark was very busy.

waze app

For example, if a national park had thousands of visitors when a new arrival plugged that address into the app, they would be given information offering a different natural site. They would be told the other site was busy and then switch the directions to the new site if they agreed. According to data from the app, 28 thousand people chose the alternative, suggesting the app has a lot of potential.

paris tour bus

Even Paris has been affected by the crowds. As one of the most visited cities on the planet, hundreds of tourist schemes are introduced on a regular basis. Buses, in particular, are rubbing locals in a bad way. More than two hundred incidents involving tour buses have been reported to the police in the last two years, prompting new rules for companies operating them.

Limits are set to be in place along with regulations surrounding their environmental friendliness. The exact rules have not been released but are expected to be so in September.

corsica road

It’s important for tourists all around the world, not just in France, to ensure they keep their footprint to a minimum. As much as we want to enjoy a new place, it’s someone else’s home and the natural sites should be protected over tourist enjoyment. 

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