With rugby's World Cup as a supporting weapon, Prime Minister John Key arrived in Paris tonight for the second stage of talks aimed at boosting New Zealand's political profile and trade ties with Europe.

Key and his entourage arrived at Paris's Gare du Nord railway station off a Eurostar super-train from London, where he laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in Whitehall to mark Anzac Day, lunched with the Queen and dined with his British counterpart, David Cameron.

In a packed schedule, Key was to meet Christine Lagarde, economy and industry minister, who followed a highly successful career as a business lawyer before entering politics, followed by talks with Prime Minister Francois Fillon, a rugby fanatic who is married to a Welshwoman.

Later, Key was scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, making a successful return to top politics after a spell in the wilderness, and round off the day with a 45-minute meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose popularity is at an all-time low with little more than a year left in office.

Key will also host a lunch with bigwigs in Europe's finance and business sector and attend a reception with the head of the OECD rich nations' club, Angel Gurria.

It is the first meeting between a New Zealand prime minister and a French president since 2007 - when Helen Clark came to Paris for the rugby world cup. That highly successful trip featured Tourism New Zealand placing a giant rugby ball on the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower and the gift of an All Blacks jersey to the Paris City Hall, an event that was followed a day by France's famous victory.

Key will be able to tap a deep vein of passion for rugby, a sport that has moved out of its traditional heartland of southwestern France and whose top-paying clubs are a magnet for New Zealand stars.

In a rare intervention by a French politician in a sporting issue, Fillon wrote to Key in 2009 to help defuse the row over the behaviour of Matthieu Bastareaud in the Bleus' tour of New Zealand. Bastareaud said he had been assaulted by a group of people outside his hotel in Wellington, but later said that his facial injuries happened because he had fallen into his bedside table.

According to diplomats, the point of the visit is to be put flesh on the bones of the relationship, to thank France for its contributions to the Christchurch earthquake and to convey New Zealand's support for the G20. which France currently chairs.

Key will press reminders of New Zealand's troops in Afghanistan, its important role alongside France in the South Pacific and its support for free trade.

New Zealand is also hoping for French support for its exports to the European Union, a diplomat said. "There are no bilateral trade irritants."

Key arrived in Europe on Sunday and travelled straight to northern France for World War I ceremonies at Le Quesnoy and the battlefield of the Somme. On Thursday, he returns to Britain, again to pound the drum for New Zealand business, before attending the royal wedding on Friday.