Fishing. – Sea fishing, which plays a role of limited importance in the economic context of the country, tends to modernize its methods and means (over 14,000 vessels). The fish landed is, therefore, constantly increasing (about 40% more than in 1962) due to the increasing exercise of large-scale fishing, largely mechanized. But the progressive modernization of the fishing fleet has led to a sharp reduction in the number of employees (today less than 35,000). The activity is greatest on the Atlantic coasts and on the English Channel where the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer is the first French fishing port that reaches 17% of the fish landed.
Communications. – Road transport in the French region is developing at the same time as the various economic activities and by now has the primacy in the transport of people. On 73,000 km of national roads, just 13,000 km absorb 50% of the traffic. But the movement on almost 290,000 km of departmental roads and over 420,000 km of municipal roads should not be underestimated. The motorway network, which developed after 1965, is just 3500 km long (the main axis connects Marseille to Paris and Lille), due to the fact that the road network is very dense, generally with straight lines and scarce slopes; but in relation to the motorway development of the neighboring states (excluding Spain), the lack of connections with the major European itineraries is felt (the opening to traffic in July 1965 was important in this regard. of the Mont Blanc motorway tunnel). Current circulation on French roads is made up of 15.2 million cars and 2.2 million commercial and industrial vehicles.
According to CARSWERS, the railway lines have undergone profound transformations, placing in the foreground the convenience and speed of transport for both travelers and goods (French trains are among the fastest in the world): almost 9,400 km are now electrified on a network of over 35,100 km. The French railways currently absorb about 58% of internal freight traffic, while roads account for 31% and inland navigation about 11%.
The plot of inland waterways today exceeds 7200 km: despite carrying out an intense traffic (over 110 million t) of heavy and non-perishable goods (cereals, hydrocarbons, building materials, mining products), it is now too old-fashioned. The only recent work is the canalization of the Moselle, carried out within the framework of the EEC (1964): a new fundamental artery has opened up for the transport of iron and coal minerals.
Maritime trade makes use of a significant merchant fleet (10.7 million t), while the movement of ports exceeds 240 million t of goods, equal to three times that of 1958. In first place is always Marseille (33% traffic), the most important port in the Mediterranean and in second place in Europe after Rotterdam; followed by Le Havre (26%), Dunkerque (11%), Rouen, Bordeaux and Nantes. The movement of passengers is around 8 million people annually: about 40% is given by the port of Calais.
Air transport has had great development in the last fifteen years, both in the passenger and freight sectors. The movement of the former in French airports now exceeds 12.2 million people: 67% flew on Air France planes, the great national airline, one of the largest in the world for the development of connections with the various continents and the transport of passengers and goods. Air communications inside the France are not very important, unlike the international routes that make Paris, equipped with various airports including the very recent and futuristic De Gaulle airport, the second European airport after London.
Commerce and tourism. – Until 1958 the French trade balance was in deficit, then for some years exports prevailed over imports. Since 1962 the deficit has remained at acceptable levels with positive consequences for gold reserves and hard currency. The French economy does not have major shortcomings in its various sectors, with the exception of some raw materials such as liquid fuels and some minerals, and consequently does not have a truly dominant sector in the foreign trade movement. In recent years, the trade balance of the agricultural sector is in an ascending phase for European Community policy. The most important exchanges are held with the EEC countries, among which the Federal Republic of Germany holds 21% of the exchange.
A very conspicuous contribution of currency (over 8000 million francs) derives from tourism: the France is currently visited by over 14 million foreigners (5.6 million in 1960), who mainly go to Paris and the Côte d’Azur. But in addition to seaside tourism (renovated with multiple nautical ports), winter tourism has developed in the last decade in the Alps (Savoy, Dauphiné) and the Pyrenees.