PARIS (Reuters) - Activity in the French private sector picked up in February to expand at a pace not seen since 2011, helped by a recovery in the hotel and restaurant business that had been hit by declining tourism, a survey showed on Friday.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its purchasing managers index for services rose in February to 56.4 from 54.1 in January, slightly lower than a preliminary reading of 56.7.

The index rose further away from the 50-point threshold dividing an expansion in activity from a contraction.

IHS Markit's overall PMI index, which includes the services and manufacturing sectors, rose to 55.9 from 54.1 in January, although that was also slightly below the 56.2 originally reported. "Survey data for February signaled no let-up in growth momentum in the French service sector," said IHS Markit Economist Alex Gill. "Moreover, private sector optimism toward future output growth hit a 67-month peak, which in turn encouraged firms to hire additional staff for the second consecutive month," he said.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Toby Chopra)