French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is reimbursing the state 2,500 euros after taking his children on a government plane to see the Champions League final in Germany, in hopes of defusing widespread criticism.

Critics on left and right assailed Valls for spending taxpayer money on what was seen as a frivolous trip while France is struggling to revive its economy and reduce unemployment.

Valls on Thursday argued that his trip to see Barcelona beat Juventus at the invitation of UEFA President Michel Platini was justified because France is hosting the European football championships next year.

He said the presence of two of his sons did not cost taxpayers any extra, but "to remove any ambiguity, I decided to assume the cost of the trip for my two children."