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Last Updated: Friday, 4 July, 2003, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Paris woos US tourists
US war graves near Omaha beach
Fallen US troops will be honoured
Paris has launched a campaign for the hearts and minds of American tourists, with a champagne and flowers give-away to coincide with the 4 July holiday.

About 100 hotels, restaurants, shops and tour operators in the French capital will provide visitors with free gifts such as drinks, American-style meals, perfumes and river cruises.

The celebrations are part of a wider campaign by the French tourism board to win back Americans after tensions over the Iraq war.

Last year Paris hosted 1.7 million US tourists, but comparable figures for the first four months of 2003 show a drop of around a quarter.

Also a grassroots initiative is under way to honour US soldiers who fell in France during the two world wars by placing roses on their graves and memorials.

'Strong signal'

The rose campaign began on Thursday at a US military cemetery on the Normandy coast, near the Omaha beach-head where almost 10,000 US troops their lives during the D-Day landings.

Woody Allen
Allen appeared in a French tourism video
"Many people - Americans and French - needed this," said one of the organisers, Anne-Colombe de la Taille.

"We've seen the US-French relationship break down, so we wish to give a strong signal about the US-French friendship that has existed for such a long time."

Washington and Paris fell out during the spring over French President Jacques Chirac's refusal to endorse the US-led attack on Iraq.

American retaliation for France's anti-war stance included the renaming of French fries in some restaurants and cafes - including some at Capitol Hill - to freedom fries.

Some media called for boycotts of French products as well.

But the French tourist board fought back quickly with a campaign to attract US tourists.

It included a video entitled Let's Fall in Love Again, featuring appearances by film director Woody Allen and a New York firefighter among others.

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