The figures released this week by the French government's tourism arm, DGCIS, came amid claims that visa rules for Chinese people coming to Britain are "colonial" and costing the country up to euros 7 million (US$ 10million) per day.
France retained its pole tourism ranking in 2012 with 83 million foreign visitors bringing in a total 35.8 billion euros (US$ 42 billion) in revenue. Britain was ranked seventh in the tourism league table, with just under 30 million foreign visitors.
Europeans made up the vast majority – some 83 per cent – of visitors to France, with Germany dethroning Britain as the top visiting country for the first time since 2006.
The statistics were released just as Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome Casino in London's West End, branded the UK visa system "bureaucratic madness".
"Chinese tourists can fill out a relatively simple form to get a Schengen visa for 26 European countries, yet have an incredibly complicated process to get a UK visa, so many of them don't bother," Mr Thomas said.
Read more: How France is benefiting from Chinese tourists over Britain - Telegraph