- - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The news from French tourism marketers this week at an Atout France press luncheon in Los Angeles was all too clear: Paris is alive and well, full of love, and open for business.

“State of emergency does not mean the city has shut down. It just means there will be a few more police and military on the streets and more complications at the border areas,” said Atout France representative Marion Fourestier. But countrywide, France is far from coming to a screeching halt. New hotels are opening, exhibits and museum attractions are launching on schedule and the travelers are coming – possibly not as in force as they could be but few, if any, travel agents are reporting active cancellations.

The facts are these: terrorism continues to rise with more than 32,000 people killed in such attacks in 2014 – the highest number on record – and mostly at the hands of two groups: Boko Haram and ISIS.

But here are some facts as well. Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria account for nearly 80% of all deaths at the hands of terrorists in 2014. And pairing deaths by acts of terrorism and deaths by homicide globally, terrorism loses by a landslide. Some 13 times as many people died as a result of homicide than as a result of terror attacks last year.

The numbers for 2015 will no doubt be daunting and move the needle, which has steadily risen since 1989. However, attacks in focus remain concentrated in countries with a variety of factors leading to unstable governments and splintering populations movements while in the west, the majority of deaths (only 0.5% of deaths from terrorism have occurred in the West since 2000 – excluding September 11 and with that event, the percentage rises to 2.6) occur as acts by a lone wolf or pack. That means that it is political extremism, not Islamic fundamentalism, that makes up the main driver of terrorism in Western countries.

As for Paris, the news could not have been worse or more shattering for the City of Lights — easily the number one tourism destination in the world. France received some 84 million foreign visitors last year, and travel and tourism industry accounts for nearly 9 percent of the country’s economy.

And while the short term shocks to the country’s tourism industry have been predicted and experienced, the country is already rebounding and expected to join the ranks of fellow European icons, such as Madrid, bombed in 2004, and London, hit in 2005, in miraculous bounce-backs.

Generally, it takes tourism 13 months to recover from a terrorist attack, according to a study from the World Travel and Tourism Council. However, as the tourism council looked at the numbers that came in from Madrid, it found the Spanish capital recovered in just weeks to the visitor numbers it was seeing before the bombing. As for London, the explosions actually had no marked impact on tourism arrivals at all in the U.K.

Perhaps the best defense is the offense – to travel in the face of fear and not let terrorism win.

A taste of new attractions and openings to bring visitors back to France:

Rodin Museum (Musée Rodin)
Paris (Ile-de-France)
Reopened: November 12, 2015
After a complete restoration over the past three years, the magnificent Hôtel Biron, home of the Rodin Museum in Paris since 1919, will reopen its doors to the public on 12 November 2015, the 175th birthday of the famous French sculptor. The renovation has allowed the museum to completely rethink its exhibition space, and to show the work of Rodin and some of his contemporaries – including his pupil and lover Camille Claudel – in a new light.

La Cité du Vin à Bordeaux
Bordeaux (Aquitaine)
Opening: June 2nd, 2016
The Wine Museum & Cultural Center now called La Cité du Vin, the first large cultural center based on the theme of wine in Bordeaux, will open its doors in 2016. Halfway between a museum and a theme park, La Cité will offer visitors immersive and multi-sensory technologies to explore a huge permanent exhibit about great wine cultures throughout the ages. Its opening will coincide with the lively Bordeaux Wine Festival scheduled for June 23 to 26, 2016.

International Gastronomy Exhibition Center
Dijon (Burgundy)
Opening: 2018
As one of a foursome of cities hosting Gastronomy Exhibition Centers, Dijon will be the reference on the culture of the vine and wine. Located on the site of an 18th-century former general hospital, the International Gastronomy Exhibition Centre in Dijon will notably include a wine sommelier school, a wine exhibition area and food and an eco-friendly neighborhood.
The Museum at Baccarat
Baccarat (Lorraine)
Opening: October 6th, 2015
Baccarat inaugurated its newly restored museum in the “Château”, located in the heart of the production site. In addition to seducing world’s leaders and crowned heads, Baccarat’s designs immortalize both the elegance and the excellence of its expertise. The story of a glittering destiny and an incomparable heritage is told in the new Baccarat museum, a treasure of light that holds over two centuries of passion and perfection.
Musée Dom Robert
Sorèze (Midi-Pyrénées)
Opened: Spring 2015
The Modern Aubusson Tapestry Museum is located at the Sorèze Abbey School, which dates from the 18th century. It is one hour from Toulouse, a Great Tourist Site in Midi-Pyrénées. Having opened in spring 2015, this museum shows works of the artist Dom Robert (1907-1997), a Benedictine monk living in the Abbaye d’En Calcat. He is celebrated for having helped revive the Aubusson Tapestry Manufacture.

Franco-American Museum of Blérancourt
Blérancourt (Picardie)
Reopening: fall 2016
The Franco-American Museum of Blérancourt, will reopen in the fall of 2016 after an ambitious expansion that includes a new wing and reorganization to showcase its comprehensive collection of art and documents dedicated to the Franco-American relationship. The museum was founded by Anne Morgan, the remarkable daughter of U.S. industrialist, philanthropist and art collector J.P. Morgan. She transformed the Château de Blérancourt, her WWI and post-war headquarters in Picardy, into the Franco-American Museum. After she donated it in 1931 to the French Government, it was declared a national museum.

Upcoming festivals in and around Paris:


Paris Jazz Festival
Early June to late July 2016
Paris‘ premier jazz festival unfolds over the course of eight weeks in the Parc Floral botanical gardens of Paris. Having celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014, it has been instrumental in helping jazz to keep reinventing itself rather than settling into a routine.

Paris Plages

Mid-July to mid-August 2016 A Seine-side holiday. That, in a nutshell, is what Paris Plages is all about. The Seine’s banks become pedestrian byways and sandy beaches are spread across three spots – Louvre/Pont de Sully, Port de la Gare and Bassin de la Villette – complete with deck chairs, ice cream sellers and concerts for French and foreign guests. Holidaymakers at the Bassin de la Villette can also borrow books free of charge, play beach volleyball, take an aqua-gym class in a mini pool, kayak around the lake or, of course, just chill and enjoy.

Rock en Seine

August 26, 27 and 28, 2016
This three-day rock music festival is held in the park of the Château de Saint-Cloud, west of Paris, inside a garden designed by André Le Nôtre. 2014’s lineup included: The Hives, Arctic Monkey, Lana Del Ray, Queens of the Stone Age, Portishead and more.

Paris Electronic Week
Mid-September 2016
This 10-day festival celebrates electronic music and culture through performances and workshops. Paris Electronic Week is organized by Technopol – Techno Parade, an association that, since 1996, has assisted in the development and promotion of electronic music and culture, as well as its adherents’ networking and professionalism.

Nuit Blanche
October 1, 2016
Nuit Blanche, a free, annual, dusk-to-dawn carnival of arts and culture, has become one of the most popular events on the Paris cultural calendar. It is an informal and relaxed way for the general public to become acquainted with contemporary artists in many settings – outdoors, in famous places in Paris, with children or friends, or just after eating in a restaurant. The success of this event, started in Paris in 2002, has led to its adoption in other cities like Rome, Brussels, Madrid and Montreal.
The Fountains Night Show
Château de Versailles (Ile-de-France)
Mid-June to Mid-September 2016
When night falls, the palace gardens transform into a stunning visual and musical treat. This year once again, lighting and stage-effects artists will illuminate the gardens and display their surprising installations to visitors: water features in the Mirror Fountain, lasers streaking across the dark in the Colonnade Grove and a fireworks display in front of the Grand Canal.

Louis XIV Night by William Christie
Château de Versailles (Ile-de-France)
This historical and entertaining performance marks the 300th anniversary of the death of the Sun King. It is also a perfect occasion for William Christie and the Arts Florissants to do a day of music at Louis XIV’s court. The master of ceremonies will be Louis XIV himself. He will guide the spectators through the palace (Opéra Royal, Chapelle Royale and Hall of Mirrors) and describe the splendors of the Court ceremonies.

Lark Gould reports on travel and the travel industry from Los Angeles, covering travel trends and destinations on Travel-Intel.com and etravel.news.

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