Is it any wonder why New Orleans has turned out like it did it being a French colony and all? There is something about the French that bring classiness to almost everything they do and the weekend I spent in New York at a French Affairs meeting was a testament to that.
Atout France, the French tourism development agency, puts on a weekend once a year in the U.S. for folks here that have some kind of tour operating business that involves bringing their customers to France and territories to experience the culture, food and history of the place. A year after Hurricane Katrina they brought their meeting to New Orleans, this year it was in New York.
Let me tell you I was impressed. Everything went without a hitch, their audio visual presentations were first rate and classy, the meals were wonderful with little touches only the French would do. And everyone was nice, kind and very helpful.
The meeting lasted only for a day and a half and it was all expenses paid. We spoke to tour operators in Rhone, Provence, Chamonix, and Bordeaux. They had a lunch of typical foods from the Caribbean island of St. Martin. We were offered free “fam” trips to the Alps, Provence and the island of Martinique. (Fam means familiarity.)
We tasted fine wines, had great food, spoke to many friendly and wonderful people. And got really excited about the possibilities of Julie’s culinary tours business. Apparently this year’s program was the biggest ever with over 140 U.S. tour operators specializing in France and more than 60 French suppliers. France is the world’s most popular tourist destination.
I got a chance to share with many French people just how much we in New Orleans appreciated what France did for us after Katrina. They sent millions of dollars in aid and put on a splendid art exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art. It felt good to assume the role of goodwill ambassador from this former French colony at this New York meeting.
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