French president Macron arrives to large crowds in the French Quarter

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 6:55 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife received a huge welcome when they arrived in New Orleans’ French Quarter on Friday afternoon (Dec. 2).

The Macrons landed at New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International airport shortly after lunchtime, having traveled to the city from Washington D.C., where President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted them.

When the Macrons’ motorcade arrived in Jackson Square, located in the French Quarter, applause and cheers broke out from the spectators behind barricades.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Congressman Troy Carter, and others were on hand to greet the foreign leader and his spouse.

But within minutes of their arrival in the French Quarter, the Macrons headed to the crowds of people who had waited hours to see them.

Cantrell said the city was thrilled to host President Macron.

“Mr. President indicated his visit to New Orleans was the highlight of his visit to the United States of America,” said Cantrell.

As the Macrons walked along the barricades and talked to average citizens, Cantrell and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu were in the thick of it with them. French security, along with NOPD officers were close to the foreign dignitaries as they strolled next to St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo Museum.

It has been decades since the city hosted a French president.

Of Macron, Cantrell said, “He says, listen, don’t worry about them, we’re going to walk and don’t worry about protocol.’ Well, we know we’re going to worry about protocol. But that’s the type of energy that he’s bringing to this visit in this city and the first in almost 50 years.”

Macron’s visit was designed to highlight the historic connection between Louisiana and France. The U.S. purchased Louisiana from France in 1803.

“Of course, the influences of the French and Louisiana is one that we’re very proud of. We know that the French president wants to encourage more French-speaking and opportunities for people to learn and that’s a good thing,” said Carter.

From Jackson Square, Macron attended a reception at The Historic New Orleans Collection on Royal Street. There, Macron met with Governor John Bel Edwards, and afterward, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Edwards and a French official as Macron looked on. The MOU creates a position for a French expert on the governor’s climate initiatives task force.

The signing was met with applause from dozens in the room.

Carter says the French have shown their commitment to working to address climate issues.

“We have the opportunity to learn great things from them on the area of climate,” said Carter.

Clovis Casali, a reporter with France 24 News, followed the Macrons from Paris to Washington D.C. and then to Louisiana.

“It’s quite a welcome here, it’s quite some astonishing scenes, a lot of people on the streets and we love music, a good atmosphere,” said Casali.

Macron’s visit to a former French territory is expected to be applauded in France.

“Here, I had a lady come up to me and spontaneously speak French to me, and said, ‘Don’t be surprised if you hear French in the French Quarter even though we’re in the United States.’ We’ve had a good welcome,” said Casali.

And Louisiana officials like Nungesser are thrilled over the positive international attention the city is getting because of Macron’s visit.

“It absolutely shines a light. You know, we take trips to France and meet with travel agents to get people to come here, business, tourists. Our students that go over there and they learn the French culture and they come back and teach our kids and the teachers they bring in. It’ll add to all of that in a positive light.”

From the French Quarter, Macron went to the New Orleans Museum of Art to announce the creation of a fund to support the teaching of French in U.S. schools.

He was to have dinner in the city with representatives of the music and film industries and take a walk down Frenchmen Street to enjoy live music.

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