Ooh-la-la, Vancouver’s travel professionals were in for a real treat last night at Destination France’s travel trade show at the iconic Pan Pacific Hotel.

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Not only were there Cointreau cocktails to sip as they perused the 23-exhibitor-strong trade show, but there was a exquisite French menu and fine wines to dive into as they heard about why France is particularly thrilled to be welcoming Canadians to its shores in 2015.

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“Today we want to show travel agents how happy we are to welcome their clients in France,” Armelle Tardy-Joubert, director of Atout France in Canada, explained to CT.

“A record has been broken. More than one million Canadian tourists travelled in France in 2013—an increase of 15 percent over 2012. And they stayed for an average of 11 nights.

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“Saying merci to Canadians means welcoming them with specialized services, caring for them as distinguished guests and contributing to create an exceptional experience.”

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2015 is a momentous year for the destination, as the country marks the 70th anniversary of its liberation from Nazi Germany, as well as its ongoing centenary of World War I.

“On the 8th of May, French people will gather in their towns and villages in memory of those who lost their lives for freedom. We want to thank Canadians for their help and support for their fight for freedom in France.

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“France is also commemorating the centenary of the Great War. That’s why we chose the theme ‘Be Our Guest’ for Destination France 2015. French people will welcome you as generous friends and as part of the Be Our Guest theme, Atout France also wants to thank Canadians for their loyalty to France as a preferred tourist destination.”

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Other important tourism firsts for France in 2015 include the opening of the Musee de Confluences in Lyon, Panorama XXL in Rouen and an impressive museum facility at the Caverne du Pont d’Arc. Strasbourg Cathedral is celebrating standing for a millennium and Champagne-lovers are happy to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Dom Perignon.

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The event also celebrated the launch of the new Air France service from Vancouver to Paris. The service is set to kick off with three weekly services on March 29, before increasing to five weekly services on May 4.

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To further emphasize the popularity of France with Canadian clients, Air France-KLM Canada vice president and general manager, Jean-Noel Rault, revealed that some 20,000 seats have already been sold on the route—an impressive figure considering that the route has not even launched yet.

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Rault also stressed the airline group’s commitment to British Columbia, stating that the Vancouver-Paris service is Air France’s only route launch during 2015.

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