France's ambassador to Spain, Jean-Michel Casa, in Palma. | Pere Bota

It has been one of the surprises of the 2021 summer season. Hoteliers have said so, town hall councillors have remarked on it. Others have detected more French voices than in the past. There has been a significant increase in French tourism in Mallorca, the ferry route to Alcudia from Toulon having been identified as one reason.

The increase this summer has in fact been a reinforcement of a trend. In 2019, there were 514,000 French tourists, more than twice as many as ten years previously. But the French consulate in Palma reckons that this year there has been growth of a further 25%.

France's ambassador in Spain is Jean-Michel Casa. On Saturday, he inaugurated the French Lyceum in Palma. Already operating, it has 600 students. Education, says the ambassador, is very important for enhancing bilateral relations. "The Lyceum is part of the life of the island. We want to use it as a lever to encourage student exchanges."

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These relations definitely seem to be extending to tourism, M. Casa saying that "it is true that there has been very positive development this year". "And it is with added value, as it is tourism that goes beyond the traditional sun and beach - to active, cultural and gastronomy tourism as well as enjoyment of the natural beauties of Mallorca. In other words, it is sustainable."

The ambassador sees that there is a market in Mallorca for all holiday segments, but for the French, it is the case that there is "a type of sustainable and respectful tourism that makes the Balearic Islands of interest as a destination". Diversification, in his opinion, must prevail.

With French property buying having also increased, M. Casa comments that "the French see the beauty of the island and its quality of life, and this is a point of attraction for buyers".