Pope travels to France
Pope Benedict XVI on Friday morning departed from Rome's Fiumcino airport and headed for France for a four day visit - his first there as pontiff, reported dpa.
Benedict left Rome on an Alitalia Airbus A321 jet at 9:15 am (0715 GMT) and was expected to arrive at Paris' Orly airport around two hours later, an airport spokesman said.
The trip, Benedict's 10th abroad since his 2005 election, includes talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The French president, together with his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, was scheduled to welcome the pontiff upon his arrival at Orly.
Benedict planned to spend two days in Paris before travelling to the pilgrimage site of Lourdes in southern France where he is to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous.