When it comes to offering cultural influence around the globe France was ranked top dog, followed by Italy, in the new study from US News & World Report.
“It is difficult to overstate the influence France has on the world, both in the past and today,” reads the report.
“France is one of the world’s oldest countries, and its reach extends around the globe through science, politics, economics and perhaps above all, culture,” it adds.
The rankings of the 60 countries were based on a survey of 16,000 people worldwide who were asked to associate each country with certain attributes. The responses were then broken down into various categories, including adventure, power, entrepreneurship and quality of life.
Respondents gave France a perfect score of 10 in the Cultural Influence category, which included scores of 10 for being prestigious, fashionable and trendy.
And here's why France was ranked number one:
“Countries that command cultural influence are often synonymous with fine food, fashion and easy living,” reads the report.
“They are trendsetters – the country equivalent of the cooler, older sibling.
“Their products have that certain “je ne sais quoi” that makes them fly a little faster off the shelves. Their music, television and movies are absorbed by other cultures, becoming part of a wider global conversation.”
However, those surveyed were less likely to describe French culture as happy, a category where the country received only 3.3 points of a possible 10.
The report said: “French literature began in the Middle Ages, and the country has a long history in fine arts, music and dance.” It also praised France’s food and said the country was “nearly synonymous with wine”.
Heritage was a separate category, and France came fourth with consistently high scores in the four sub-categories, ‘culturally accessible’, ‘many cultural attractions’, ‘has a rich history’ and ‘has great food’.
Taking the top three spots were France’s southern European neighbours Italy, Spain and Greece, but all of the top four scored over 90 out of 100, while fifth placed Mexico lagged 17 points behind France.
France has 41 World Heritage sites (check out some of its lesser-known gems here), and the report singled out the Louvre, which welcomes 9.2 million visitors each year, and the Eiffel Tower, which sees an average of 7 million.
However, in recent months, visitor numbers have dipped following security fears.
France came eighth overall out of the 60 countries included in the study. Germany was ranked the world’s best country, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States in the survey, which was based on countries' worldwide reputation – i.e. how they are seen by others rather than what they are actually like (although the two often overlap).
“How a nation is perceived outside its borders is critical to its success,” UK businessman Sir Martin Sorrell, one of the names behind the survey, explained the rankings.
Another area where France scored well was education. Ranked fourth for studying abroad (Italy came top) and fifth for education overall (while the UK topped the ranks), the results merely confirmed what study after study has told us before: students love France, especially its capital.
So where did France do poorly? Well, it scored only 3.3 for being friendly, 2.7 for being entrepreneurial, 1.5 for the state of its job market and a measly 0.1 in the mysterious category of being ‘different’.