Rural tourism is on the rise. Europeans and Americans are more frequently opting for a road trip to the mountains and plains in lieu of a flight to the big city. The agricultural industry has much to gain from the surge in rural tourism, and the French Ministry of Agriculture is intervening to help French economy and local farmers and capitalize on the trend.

Have you ever wondered about the history and effort behind your favorite bottle of wine? Has the complicated bustle of city life ever born in you the desire to your natural roots? These are just some of the now common European and American trends that have led to an increase in rural tourism. Defined quite literally as the visiting of rustic regions, the recent upswing in rural tourism offers myriad benefits for farmers and for the field of agriculture as a whole. The French Ministry of Agriculture has recognized the advantages of sustaining this renewed agricultural interest, and has seen to the implementation of several policies and programs aimed at providing better structure for the existing demand, keeping this favorable trend on the ascent.

La Roque Gageac in the Perigord.

La Roque Gageac in the Perigord.


To begin, it is worth noting that rural tourism encompasses a wide variety of activities. If you have ever been camping, taken a tour of a vineyard or gone fly fishing with the family, you have already contributed to this branch of tourism. In France, school visits to heritage sites and farms, bed and breakfasts, and work-stay programs such as grape picking are some of the more common forms of rural tourism. An elevated demand and highly diversified market translate into a need for a more structured supply if rural tourism is to be sustainably profitable. That is where the French Ministry of Agriculture comes in.

An enthusiastic tourist picking grapes on a vinyard.

An enthusiastic tourist picking grapes on a vinyard.

Since early 2005, the French Ministry of Agriculture has sponsored an annual conference on rurality at which the Minister, members of parliament, State and regional representatives, and public companies all convene alongside farmers in recognition of the importance of supporting rural France. The goal of this conference is to evaluate the efficacy of existing rural development policies and to address future needs. Rural tourism is among the more prioritized subject matters, warranting the intervention of the ministers of agriculture, ecology, economy and health. Furthermore, the State has partnered with various organizations dedicated to all different types of rural tourism, allocating funds and helping to ensure their positive impact. Some of these associations, such as Gîtes de France, date back as far as the 1950s and are particularly well-established and solicited. As this branch of tourism grows more established and better coordinated with the help of the Ministry, the French agricultural industry can expect to see numerous financial benefits.

Logo of Gîtes de France, a popular rural housing association in France

Logo of Gîtes de France, a popular rural housing association in France