Thu, 09 Feb 2023

French president Emmanuel Macron wraps up his his three-day state visit to the United States with a visit to New Orleans, a city steeped in Franco-American history, where he will promote the French language.

Coming one day after a lavish reception at the White House that "sealed the friendship" between the French president and his US counterpart Joe Biden, Macron is due to spend just under 24 hours in the Louisiana state capital, New Orleans.

Once owned by France, New Orleans was sold to the United States by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803 as part of the "Louisiana purchase."

Speaking to the French community in Washington this week, President Macron announced that he would inaugurate an ambitious initiative,"to support the learning of French wherever it is at stake in the United States - from kindergarten to university - especially among disadvantaged groups," underlining that speaking French is a gateway to multiple opportunities.

He also added that he wanted to renovate the image of French in the United States, which is sometimes seen as elitist.

Following in the footsteps of General de Gaulle back in 1960, Macron chose to stop off in New Orleans, where he is expected to stroll through the streets of the "French Quarter" - the bustling historic centre of the city, whose population is overwhelmingly African-American.

According to the Elysee Palace, "We have history in New Orleans and important things to say there that concern both our past and what we want to do next."

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The French head of state is set to celebrate the Franco-American heritage of New Orleans, but also pay hommage to the resilience of the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed more than 1,800 people and cost billions of dollars in damage.

Meetings are also planned with energy and climate focused companies with Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Louisiana Governor John Edwards due to sign an agreement on energy transition in what is classed as an "oil and gas state."

Emmanuel Macron will also meet with cultural figures in the city - famed as the cradle of jazz music - following Thursday's gala dinner at the White House hosted by virtuoso pianist Jon Batiste, who comes from a family of musicians from New Orleans.

Originally published on RFI

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