Parisians are urged to love London

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The Independent Online

Paris likes to think of itself as the capital city of lovers, but a cheeky advertising campaign by Eurostar tells the French that London has its romantic charms too, along with its gastronomic limitations.

Posters have appeared all over Paris depicting a typical English breakfast in which the baked beans wriggle like sperm towards a fried egg. The advertisements have been designed to promote cheaper train trips from Paris to London for couples at €100 (£69) return.

Boasting that the delights in store include "tête-à-têtes over a plate of beans" or "sweet nothings shared in the shadow of a sound system", the campaign advocates romance British-style.

The poster replaces one showing a couple streaking across a football pitch (an "extremely British phenomenon", says Franck Dubourdieu, head of marketing at Eurostar in France).

Eurostar promotions over many years have gleefully nourished French stereotypes about Britain, supposedly a country of brilliant rock musicians and questionable cuisine with a population which is at once strait-laced and off-the-wall.

Leg Agency, the firm that created the advertisements, has enjoyed acclaim and notoriety with its series of Eurostar campaigns. In 2003 and 2004, the agency was awarded France's premier advertising award, the Grand Prix de l'affichage.

But its 2003 campaign of posters and cinema ads showed towns in northern France as grey, rain-soaked and desolate. The slogan said: "Or else, 3 hours away from Paris, there's London".

After an outcry from citizens in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, the campaign was suspended.