Culture and leisure


In 1999, 49,808 books were published including 24,485 new titles and 25,323 reprints;

411 million copies were printed by 331 publishing houses.
Turnover in publishing (1999): 2.13 billion euros.


36% of the French read a daily newspaper every day. There are seven national newspapers and 160 regional papers (dailies and weeklies).
Total annual circulation: 9 billion.


Among the top 100, six have a circulation of over one million and eight over 500,000 copies.
With 1,354 copies sold for every 1,000 residents, France ranks first in the world for magazine readership.


Watching television remains the favourite leisure activity of the French, with an average of 3 hours 15 minutes per person per day.

There are over 130 television channels:

> Four national public channels: France 2, France 3, Arte (Franco-German cultural channel) and La Cinquième (educational channel).

> Three national private channels: TF1, M6 and Canal Plus (pay channel with 6.6 million subscribers in France and 6.9 million abroad).

> Over 20 national and local cable channels (35% of households are connected to a cable network). 7.1% of households subscribe to specific cable channels.

> Multichannel satellite packages (Canal Satellite, TPS).

> TV5 and Canal France International (CFI), are the two television channels in France’s external radio and television network.


Radio France is the umbrella company for the country’s public service radio stations: France Inter, France Info (24-hour news), France Culture, Radio Bleue and FIP.

The private sector is represented by the general interest stations RTL (France’s most popular radio station), Europe 1 and Radio Monte Carlo and a host of music, specialist, community and regional stations broadcasting on FM.

Radio France Internationale (RFI - 30 million listeners worldwide), RMC-Moyen Orient aimed at the Middle East and Medi 1 aimed at the Maghreb form France’s overseas radio broadcasting network.

Information technology and multimedia

While computers are considered primarily as tools for work and are used as such by 46% of the French, an increasing proportion, currently 23%, of French households now have one.

The French have rapidly taken to the Internet, the new form of access to knowledge, with four million users at school, work or home.

Internet use in France has grown swiftly and remarkably in a few years: every institution, daily newspaper, government department and business now has its own website and there are sites of all kinds (sport, education, services, films, etc.).

Finally, the most visited sites are portal sites and ISP websites such as France Telecom’s Wanadoo.


France, which invented the cinematograph in 1895, is still very active in this sector. 171 films were produced in 2000, making France second in the world for film investment.

Among the most popular films we can see a clear preference on the part of the French public for costume dramas and historical films: Le Pacte des Loups (The Brotherhood of Wolves), Asterix and Obelix and Le Roi Danse (The King Dances) drew millions of cinemagoers.

Music and dance

France is the home of some 11,300 dramatic artists and dancers, 16,200 musicians and singers, 250 music, opera and dance festivals, 8,700 variety performers, etc.

In addition, amateur performers are increasing in number as teaching in these fields has grown apace (more than 4,300 institutions specialize in music alone).


Every year, some 50,000 performances put on by the national theatres, national drama centres, other subsidized playhouses and private theatres attract a total audience of eight million.

In addition to the great theatres in Paris, its suburbs, in smaller cities and at world-renowned festivals such as Avignon, over a thousand independent theatre companies have sprung up.

Museums and monuments

Around 1,200 museums draw tens of millions of visitors each year. The Louvre, the Chateau de Versailles and the Musée d’Orsay alone welcome nearly 15 million people annually. Most cities outside Paris have at least one museum.

In addition, more than 1,500 monuments are open to the public (eight million visitors a year), with the Eiffel Tower the most popular attraction with 6 million visitors a year. Moreover, some 38,000 buildings are classified as historic monuments and as such are protected by the Ministry of Culture.


Participation in sporting activities has grown rapidly in recent years.

Almost 10 million people are enrolled in sports federations, with football and tennis the largest.

Judo, pétanque, horse-riding, badminton and golf have recorded notable success in recent years. In addition, adventure and discovery activities such as mountain biking, hiking, climbing, hang-gliding and canoeing are winning increasing numbers of fans.

Cultural festivals

Internet Festival, Heritage Days, Music Festival, the literature festival, Lire en Fête, and Science Week are all cultural and leisure events in which the French love to take part, and whose success is growing every year: on the Heritage Days, historic monuments (ministries, embassies, firms, banks) usually closed to the public open their doors.

The aim of Science Week is to inform the public about developments in science and their implications for society.

Focusing on books and reading, Lire en Fête organizes meetings with writers, writers’ workshops and short story competitions and introduces visitors to trades within the book industry.

Finally, the Internet Festival raises public awareness about the information society.

Online 29/09/2005

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