France recorded 83.7 million visitors to their country last year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Only one other nation surpassed 70 million mark – the US, with 74.8 million, while plucky Britain trundled home in eighth place, with 32.6 million people heading to our shores – not that much more than a third of the total going to France. Looked at another way, that means one country garners around eight per cent of the world’s total number of international tourists (around 1.133 billion last year). How bonkers is that?

So how did a nation – not always renowned for the warmth of its welcome, and where English, the world language, is far from guaranteed to be spoken – perch on so high a pedestal? Here, we delve into a few of the reasons why.