With the sociologist Jean Viard, research director at CNRS, on the occasion of the spring break, we are talking today about this new trend, which seems to be addressing the habits of the French: leaving close to home.
franceinfo: We no longer necessarily want to fly to the end of the world, Jean Viard. Is it undoubtedly associated with Covid and then also partly to ecological concern?
John Viard: So it’s always complicated. We are talking about holidays, at the same time there is the war, there is Covid and the presidential election. At the same time, what is fascinating about society is that we are totally caught up in these contradictions. But hey, there you go, afterwards, it’s right there will be vacation. Some are already on vacation as it is regional and spread out. There has been a fundamental movement for some time to realize that one does not have to go to the end of the world to be misplaced. This is a phenomenon that we have already observed for 20 or 30 years.
But it is true that with the pandemic, we have basically not gone far from these choices. Firstly because I was not allowed to move around, but also because basically, if you tell yourself if I’m sick, I prefer to be at home, I prefer to speak the “right” language in the hospital to understand what I am about to be. told. As a result, it developed a local regional activity, which was often little more than excursions, day trips.
There is a fundamental movement, and there, if we look at the reservations, for example for next summer, with the rise in the price of gasoline, we can clearly see that there are people who expect to make wholesale a return trip with a full tank. If you live in Paris, this year there are more reservations in Brittany and Normandy than on the Mediterranean coast or south of Bordeaux, where you will need two or three full tanks of gas.
It also saves money …
But of course it saves money. This modifies the strategies, because it is clear that when traveling, the idea is the same that we on holidays first go close to home because it is cheaper. The Marseilles rarely take to Brittany. People from Bordeaux mainly go to the coast, under their homes. One must always remember one thing, which is only the “poor Parisians”, if I may say so, who have neither the sea nor the mountains, but the other Frenchmen, that is, when even the majority of society has either the sea or the mountains close to home. Most people go on holiday where there is at least a long way, because of course it costs less.
So the direct result is that we all rediscover our territory, our plural territories. And maybe that’s a good thing for our connection to our country, too?
France has always been a country where we first vacationed at home. Not only because, historically, holidays were invented in France, but also because France is a country where there are mountains, different gardens, completely different landscapes, whether you take Alsace, or the Basque Country, Corsica, etc., you are on the diversity situation, which means that it is not always worth going far at all.
After the long journey he has either economic reasons, for example you have to go to the Maghreb, to Morocco, because in fact the stays are cheaper because people are paid less, because the economy is actually very differentiated, whether you have a discovery tourism: to have traveled to New York, having traveled to London, which is part of learning about the world. It is important to imagine these different types of travel, and it is true that the pandemic has rebuilt local travel.
Each country has different traditions. Italians have always visited other cities in their country a lot. It is very regionalized, Italy, including the population, rarely changes region, but on the other hand, they took to visit Naples, Rome. They love their cities, which are exceptionally beautiful. After the reunification, the Germans started visiting the cities because there was the whole part that had been banned since the war, it goes both ways. So there has been a great development of internal tourism.
And it is true that France has always had a rather hexagonal tourism, but hexagonal towards the coasts and the snow. However, there is a development of urban tourism, and Airbnb in particular is currently playing a major role in the development, because you can find accommodation everywhere where there are no hotels, and then suddenly you see Japanese, English, French from the north arriving in a small village , where we have never seen a tourist. There are also all these dispersal phenomena, which amplify the demand for proximity, which has shaken the pandemic.