François Hollande has hit back at Donald Trump’s criticism of France and Paris – he said “Paris is no longer Paris” – by telling him he should not criticise allies in public.
Mr Hollande said: “It is never good to show the slightest disapproval of an allied country. I wouldn't do it with the United States, and I'm urging the U.S. president not to do it with France.”
Later, on a visit to Disneyland Paris to mark the theme park’s 25th birthday, Mr Hollande said he might send Mr Trump a ticket “so he at least comes to Euro Disney and understands what France is”.
President Trump had told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday that a friend “Jim” had told him he had stopped visiting Paris because of Islamic terror attacks.
Mr Trump said: “Take a look at Nice and Paris. I have a friend, he's a very, very substantial guy. He loves the City of Lights, he loves Paris.
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“For years, every year during the summer, he would go to Paris. It was automatic with him and his family. Hadn't seen him in a while, and I said, 'Jim let me ask you a question: How's Paris doing?'”
Mr Trump said ‘Jim’ replied: “Paris? I don't go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris.”
Speaking to journalists at the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris, Mr Hollande said Mr Trump had told him in a recent phone call about "all the love he held for Paris and France, that he loved France and that there was no more beautiful country than France. So, I guess that that’s what he thinks and if that’s what he thinks he will say so.”
He added: “Happily American tourists have been coming back to France for several months because they see we have made great efforts to make life safe.
"I won't make comparisons but, here, people do not have access to guns. Here, you do not have people taking up guns and opening fire on crowds simply for the satisfaction of causing drama and tragedy. There is terrorism, alas, and we must all fight against it together."
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said that the number of American tourists had increased by 30% over the past year – but official tourism figures show a 1.5million fewer tourists visiting France in 2016, down 4.7% on 2015.
Ms Hidalgo also sent Mr Trump a tweet of her posing with Mickey and Minnie Mouse to show the spirit of openness in Paris.
To @realDonaldTrump and his friend Jim, in @LaTourEiffel we celebrate the dynamism and the spirit of openness of #Paris with Mickey & Minnie pic.twitter.com/VdIq3uWkO3— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) February 24, 2017