New France UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Spa town of Vichy
Cordouan Lighthouse
City of Nice
Martinique Yole sailboat race
Press release

The latest World Heritage Committee, held from July 16 to 31, 2021, inducted to the UNESCO World Heritage list four new France sites: The spa town of Vichy, Nice, capital of the French Riviera, the Cardouan Lighthouse, and within the “Ancient and primeval beech forests in the Carpathians and throughout Europe” a number nature preserves. This brings France and its overseas regions now to 49 UNESCO World Heritage sites—42 cultural, six natural, and one mixed. France also has 23 inscriptions on UNESCO’S Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera

The capital of the French Riviera and of the Alpes Maritime County on the country’s Mediterranean shore is renowned for its mild winter climate and bright azure skies. It has long attracted (since the mid-18 century,) aristocratic and upper-class visitors, especially those from England and Russia whose presence also helped shape its character. The famed Promenade des Anglais was created in 1860—an expansion of the Camin dei Inglesi, a narrow 2-metre wide path along the sea shore. And the magnificent Russian Orthodoxe Cathedral is now a landmarked city site.

The Great Spa Towns of Europe | Vichy, France

Eleven cities* in seven European countries have declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites as examples of urban development based on the European spa culture that flourished between 1700 and the 1930s. Vichy in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of central France is one of the 11 cities. The World Heritage Committee recognized the "universal value of European hot spring resorts" because they melded medical treatment, outdoor exercise, and leisure activities with the act of "drinking water", which had a significant impact on spa medicine, balneotherapy, and leisure activities. And if we didn't already know, we now know where the word spa comes from.

*The 10 other cities are: Baden-by-Wien (Austria), Spa (Belgium), Františkovy Lázně, Karlovy Vary, Marianske Lázně (Czech Republic), Bad Ems, Bad Kissingen, Baden-Baden (Germany) Montecatini Terme (Italy), Bath (UK)

Cordouan Lighthouse Le phare de Cordouan

Cordouan lighthouse is an active lighthouse located a little overs five miles at sea from the mouth of the Gironde estuary in France. It is the tenth-tallest "traditional lighthouse" in the world, towering at 223.5 feet. Nicknamed «king of the lighthouses», it is the oldest one in France. Built in and designed by Louis de Foix of white limestone blocks at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries it was remodeled by engineer Joseph Teulère at the end of the 18th century. Cordouan is a masterpiece of maritime signage and a magnificent monument decorated with pilasters, cylinders, columns, modillions, and gargoyles.

Ancient and primeval beech forests in the Carpathians and throughout Europe

For France: the Nature reserves of the Chapitre Petit Bueche (Hautes-Alpes department), Grand Ventron (Vosges and Haut-Rhin departments) and Massanu (Pyrénées-Orientales department)

Next candidacies in Martinique

A couple more World Heritage inductions be may be coming down the pike. The island of Martinique was awarded its first ever UNESCO recognition last December with the inclusion of the traditional Yole sailboat of Martinique in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The island is now a candidate for the Biosphere Reserves list and for the Natural sites list with the candidacy of the volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique. The UNESCO committee is due de visit Martinique this October to deliberate.


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency