Paris’s cultural attractions are benefiting from the recovery in tourist numbers

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Paris’s cultural attractions are benefiting from the recovery in tourist numbers



Paris’s cultural attractions welcomed 70.2 million visitors in 2017. That is an increase of 5.9% compared to 2016[1]. This performance is characterized by strong growth in foreign visitors. It illustrates the recovery in tourism in the capital, which saw a record number of hotel arrivals in 2017.


The survey of cultural visitors, carried out each year by the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau (PCVB), looks at data on visitor numbers to Paris museums and monuments (permanent collections and exhibitions) over the past year. The survey of the year 2017 covers visitor numbers for 62 cultural attractions and 68 temporary exhibitions.


Visitor statistics for museums and monuments in 2017


The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica of Montmartre are the two most visited monuments in the capital with 12 million and 10 million visitors respectively, in 2017. In third place was the Louvre Museum, which saw renewed growth with more than 8 million visitors, up by 14.8% compared to 2016. It remains the most visited museum in the world. The Eiffel Tower, with 6.2 million visitors in 2017 (+ 4.6%), crossed the symbolic mark of ... 300 million visitors since the World Fair of 1889.


Total attendance for the cultural attractions considered in this survey was 70.2 million visitors, an increase of 5.9% compared to 2016.


Two elements can explain the success achieved this year.


  • Firstly, an attractive cultural programme. Temporary exhibitions play a key role in the annual variations in attendance. Cultural attractions recorded significant rises, like the Grand Palais (+ 24.9%) due to the success of ‘Gauguin, The Alchemist’ (467,378 visitors); the Petit Palais (+ 32.2%) with the exhibitions ‘The Art of Pastel, from Degas to Redon’ (239,472 visitors) and ‘Anders Zorn, Sweden’s Master Painter’ (130,090 visitors); or the Fondation François Sommer – Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (+68.7 %) with ‘Beau doublé, Monsieur le Marquis’ (94,821 visitors).


  • Cultural attractions also benefited from a favourable tourism climate. Hotels in Grand Paris recorded 23.6 million arrivals in 2017, a new annual record. Foreign arrivals increased significantly, up 15.2% compared to 7.5% for French arrivals. The same trend can be seen at cultural sites with an increase in foreign visitors of 9.7% compared to 4.7% for French visitors. 




The survey also provides information on visitor numbers from the Ile-de-France region, on seasonal variations in visitor numbers, and on the number of group and individual visitors.


Top 15 Paris cultural attractions in 2017

 RankingCultural attractions201620172017/2016
1Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris12 000 00012 000 000Estimation
2Sacré-Cœur Basilica of Montmartre10 000 00010 000 000Estimation
3Louvre Museum6 989 0008 022 30014.8%
4Eiffel Tower5 934 0006 207 3034.6%
5Centre Pompidou3 335 5093 337 0000.0%
6Musée d'Orsay2 997 6223 177 8426.0%
7Universcience - Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie2 196 1942 439 07211.1%
8Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Médaille Miraculeuse2 000 0002 000 000Estimation
9MNHN: Grand Site du Jardin des Plantes1 586 4501 763 26211.1%
10Arc de Triomphe1 342 3611 583 26017.9%
11Grand Palais1 130 5561 412 06024.9%
12Fondation Louis Vuitton1 021 7271 402 24537.2%
13Musée de l'Armée1 206 0651 176 984-2.4%
14Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac1 151 9221 173 7121.9%
15Petit Palais885 7981 171 22032.2 %


Visitor statistics for temporary exhibitions


Some 10.2 million visits were recorded in 2017 for 68 temporary exhibitions at 25 Parisian cultural attractions. 19 exhibitions with more than 200,000 visitors were recorded (7.0 million visitors and 69.0% of the number of entries.).


The exhibition ‘Being Modern. MoMA in Paris’, at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, was the most visited exhibition in Greater Paris in 2017 (755,184 visitors).  Two other exhibitions attracted more than 500,000 visitors:  ‘Christian Dior, couturier du rêve’ (708,000 visitors) at the MAD – Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the ‘David Hockney’ retrospective (620,945 visitors) at the Centre Pompidou.    


Top 10 most visited temporary exhibition in 2017

Cultural attractionsExhibitionsVisitors
Fondation Louis VuittonBeing Modern. MoMA in Paris755 184
MAD - Musée des Arts DécoratifsChristian Dior, couturier du rêve708 000
Centre PompidouDavid Hockney620 945
Grand PalaisGauguin, The Alchemist467 378
Musée d'Orsay(…) The Mystical Landscape from Monet to Kandinsky453 740
Musée de l'OrangerieMasterpieces from Bridgestone Museum of Art419 740
Musée d'OrsayPortraits by Cézanne415 773
Musée d'Orsay‘Degas Danse Dessin’. A Tribute to Degas with Paul Valéry393 775
Grand PalaisIrving Penn330 208
Louvre MuseumVermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting325 000


The survey is available in French:



The Paris Tourism Research Department collects and analyzes statistics to draw up a picture of tourism activity. It endeavours to identify and track new trends in tourism in Paris and carries out surveys enabling tourism professionals to position themselves within the sector and to better respond to demand. A hub for Paris tourist information, the Paris Tourism Research Department is an interface between tourism industry professionals, the academic community and journalists. It works together as a network with other European cities to exchange good practice and ensure that Paris is strategically positioned to compete effectively in the international tourism market.


[1] We have data for the total number of visitors to 62 sites in 2017. But the comparison with 2016 (+5.9 %) is based on 58 sites of which we have data for 2017 and 2016.