Pól Ó Conghaile: Despite the Paris attacks, France is the world's No.1 tourist destination
Vive la France
Six months since last November's terrorist attacks, France feels more resilient and romantic than ever says our Travel Editor.
Did you know France is the world's No.1 tourist destination?
Over 83 million people visit every year, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation, soaking up intoxicating experiences that range from Paris to Provence, from river cruises to ski holidays and foodie breaks to family camping.
It's hard to think of another country with such a complete tourism product, yet one that hardly ever feels like an off-the-brochure package holiday.
Last November 13, that certainty was shaken.
When terrorists attacked Paris, killing 130 and injuring many more, the world was shocked. Visitors grew fearful. Concerts were cancelled, tourist sites closed. Bookings dipped. The US State Department issued a global travel alert; analysts reckoned the cost could run into tens of billions.
Of course, this is exactly what the terrorists wanted.
They didn't get it. Six months later, our French love affair remains in full bloom. Tens of thousands of Irish soccer fans will travel for Euro 2016, despite extra security checks. Irish travel agents describe a 'bounce' in family holidays, summer ferry sailings are selling fast, and new flights are kicking off to Nantes, La Rochelle and Montpellier.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - this great country has changed, but our passion for it remains the same.
Vive la France.
Deals of the week...
Fancy an adventure in France? Sunway (sunway.ie) has a 10-day G-Adventures trekking holiday on Mont Blanc from €1,199pp.
Adventure Holidays (adventure-holidays.ie) has a 'Beyond The French Riviera' walking holiday from €475pp, featuring five days' self-guided walking (flights extra).
France by ferry
Irish Ferries (irishferries.com) has sailings to Rosslare and Cherbourg for a car plus two people from €99 each-way, provided you book by May 18 and travel before May 24 or from September 5 to December 15. Motorists making a return booking to France during the summer months can also avail of a free trip to Britain for a car plus two passengers.
Why travel all the way to Florida, when the House of the Mouse is right here in Europe? ClickAndGo.com has return flights plus three nights at the three-star Kyriad Disneyland Resort Paris Hotel on a room-only basis from €449pp - including a four-day Theme Park Hopper ticket. Abbey Travel (abbeytravel.ie) and Breakaway.ie, among others, also do Disneyland Paris packages.
NB: All prices subject to availability.