27 million visitors are expected to have passed through the doors of the country’s cultural and historical institutions by the end of 2011.
Three of Paris’ most popular attractions accounted for more than half the visits, led by the Louvre with 8.5 million visitors.
The Pompidou Centre, which houses the country’s leading contemporary art gallery, had 3.6 million visits and the newly-renovated Musée d’Orsay welcomed 2.9 million people.
Another star performer in 2011 was the new outpost of the Pompidou Centre in the eastern city of Metz. Opened in May 2010, the modern art museum has a distinctive roof designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.
Jacqueline Eidelman, a spokeswoman for the organization that manages the country’s cultural heritage, said three reasons had led to the increase, according to daily newspaper Le Figaro.
“The recent development of popular cultural tourism, family visits and a pricing policy that makes visiting museums less onerous,” she said.
She added that making permanent collections free for 18 to 25 year-olds had also helped. Tickets for France’s leading museums and galleries cost between €8 and €10 ($10 to $13).