* Economists expected prices to remain flat in September
* Driven by falls in tourism, energy, telecoms prices
PARIS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - French consumer prices fell unexpectedly at the end of the summer tourist season in September and easing energy prices drove a fall in annual inflation that if it continues could help the European Central Bank cut interest rates.
Prices in the euro zone's second largest economy fell by 0.3 percent month-on-month, compared to expectations of a flat figure while annual inflation was 2.2 percent on an EU harmonized basis, down from 2.4 percent in August.
A Reuters poll of 19 analysts had forecast 2.5 percent. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ For a table of figures click ) For a graphic of French inflation ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>
The ECB held off with any further reduction in interest rates this month as above-target inflation countered concerns over the euro zone's struggling economy.
Inflation in Germany is set to fall back in line with its 2 percent target in September, but an easing of pressures in France would help.
"We were expecting a correction in inflation in September. This was a little bit larger than expected, but not enormously so," said Fabrice Montagne of Barclays Capital in Paris.
Excluding seasonal variations, consumer prices were unchanged month-on-month, after rising 0.5 percent in August.
September's monthly price fall, which followed 0.7 percent rise in August, was driven by a 1.5 percent decline in the cost of services.
Tourist lodging prices tumbled 42 percent month-on-month, while package tours fell 27.9 percent and airline tickets decreased by 15.5 percent.
Telecoms prices fell sharply in September -- slipping 3.7 percent month-on-month and 12 percent on an annual basis -- after new mobile phone pricing kicked in.
Energy prices slipped by 0.3 percent in September, reflecting a dip in petroleum prices, but were still up 5.8 percent year-on-year.
A spike in the cost of fresh produce, particularly fish and vegetables, pushed up food prices by 0.2 percent in September month-on-month and by 2.4 percent year-on-year.
(Reporting by Daniel Flynn; editing by Patrick Graham)
Keywords: FRANCE ECONOMY/CPI