10/03/2011 11:14 EDT | Updated 12/03/2011 05:12 EST

Goodbye scandale, bonjour Paris; Charest heads on 10-day Europe tour amid controversy

PARIS - Quebec's premier has begun a 10-day tour of Europe while a political scandal rages at home.

Jean Charest is in France today at the start of a trip that will also take him to Spain.

His reasons for the tour are two-fold: celebrate the 50th anniversary of Quebec's diplomatic mission in Paris, and promote his plan for northern economic development.

The premier's visit began today with a ceremony and military inspection at the Invalides war museum.

The trip doesn't just take Charest out of the country amid a scandal on corruption in the construction industry.

It also leaves his Liberals clinging to a wafer-thin majority back home — his Liberals only hold a four-seat advantage in the legislature, and Charest is travelling with one of his ministers.