UK residents made 11.6 million visits to France in 2004, official figures from the Office for National Statistics say.
But more people visited Spain as 13.8 million trips were made to the country, overall both countries made up 40 per cent of visits abroad by Brits.
The data comes from the International Passenger Survey that looks at both incoming and outgoing traffic from the UK.
The number of visits abroad made by UK residents has almost tripled since 1984, to a record 64.2 million visits in 2004.
Two-thirds of these visits abroad were holidays, just under half of which were package holidays.
French people made 3.3 million visits to the UK during 2004, second to the US (3.6 million), and ahead of Germany (3.0 million visits), Ireland (2.6 million) and the Netherlands (1.6 million).
Spending on visits abroad by UK residents increased to a record £30.3 billion, a fourfold increase between 1984 and 2004 in real terms.