The Friendly French? France Looks to Be More Welcoming to Tourists

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The French are rude. They don’t shave. They get mad if you butcher their language. But worst of all, the French aren’t pleased that the rest of the world has these impressions of them.

Not that any of the above stereotypes are true, but the country does want to feel more welcoming to tourists. So, in an effort to win your admiration – and, by proxy, your money – the French government is rebranding the nation with a high-tech marketing strategy.

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Their campaign is called “Rendez-vous en France,” and while rendez-vous can be understood many different ways, the most enchanting translation NewsFeed came up with is: “Let’s meet in France.”

The website opens with a new website to convince you of the country’s beauty, with all the usual suspects: the lush vineyards of the Loire Valley, the quaint architecture of the Paris metro, and – oh wait – no Eiffel Tower? That hunk of metal still exists, right? Perhaps they’re trying to get tourists to look beyond the iconic architecture and spread their money to the rest of the country. The site will be developed to emphasize the food, wine and fashion for which France is praised.

Frédéric Lefebvre, France’s Secretary of State for Tourism, has been hawking the country’s grand new plan over the past few weeks. “People often talk about France as an arrogant nation,” Lefebvre said. But they’re looking to shed that image and be more welcoming.

But do they really need to be? After all, France is the most-visited country in the world, seeing 76.8 million tourists through its borders in 2010, Lefebvre told Budget Travel. But in terms of tourism revenue, they rank third, pulling in $74.7 billion per year. (The U.S. nearly doubles that, at $146.5 billion.)

Also part of their plan is to be more welcoming to arriving tourists at the nation’s airports. Let’s just hope they’re telling their greeters to shave and shower first. (Just kidding!)

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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