Paul Roll, director of the Paris Tourism Office, said the city is "counting on the Americans" to keep tourism revenues up and compensate for a plunge in visits by British, Japanese and Chinese tourists.

He noted that America's economy was hit early and hard by the financial crisis and is expected to emerge sooner, while other economies were slower to start their slump.

The weak British pound and troubles in Britain's finance-heavy economy have taken their toll on cross-Channel travel: The number of British visitors fell 23.4% in the first half of this year.

"The pound is really low now and it's horrible," said Mark Abbott, a 21-year-old medical student from Liverpool, visiting the Champs-Elysees on Wednesday after two days camping in Normandy.

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