Culture and leisure activities

Culture and leisure activities

The Ministry of Culture’s budget for 2003 was €2.7 billion. The financing of cultural activities costs some €13 billion, half provided by the State and half by local authorities.

On average, French households spend €1,075 a year, i.e. 3.5% of their budget, on culture, leisure activities, sports and games.


In 2002, 60,258 books were published: 30,714 were new works and 29,544 were reprints. That year, 401 million copies were sold by 350 publishing house. Turnover in the publishing industry (2002): €2.7 billion.


36% of French people read a daily newspaper every day amongst the ten national newspapers and 65 regional papers. Total annual circulation: more than 9 billion.


Among the top 100, six have a circulation of over one million and eight of 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 French 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, Canal France Internationale (CFI) and France 24, are the three television channels in France’s external radio and television network.


Radio France is the gathers 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 general interest stations such as RTL, Europe 1 and Radio Monte Carlo and many music, specialist, community and regional stations broadcasting on FM.

Radio France Internationale (RFI - 30 million listeners world-wide), 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 79% of the French, an increasing proportion, currently 43%, of French households now have one.

The French have rapidly taken to the Internet, the new form of access to knowledge, with 17 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. 212 films were produced in 2003, making France second in the world for film investment.

Amongst the recent screen hits, we find a number of costumed productions or historical erconstructions: Le Pacte des loups, Astérix et Obélix, Le Roi danse have attracted millions of spectators.

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 as teaching in these fields has grown apace (more than 4,300 institutions specialize in music alone).


A total audience of 8 million is drawn to some 50.000 performances put on by theatres, national drama centres, other subsidised playhouses and private theatres. Well-known theatres can be found throughout Paris and other cities, not to mention the activity of world-renowned festivals such as Avignon’s. Over a thousand independent theatre companies have sprung up in recent years.

JPEG - 18.1 kb
Photo : F. de La Mure / M.A.E.
Musée d’art moderne
du centre Pompidou.

Museums and monuments

Around 1,200 museums draw more than 70 millions of visitors each year.

The Louvre, 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 soccer 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 organises 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.

Dernière modification : 12/01/2010

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