French President Emmanuel Macron continued his visit to the United States in New Orleans Friday to promote shared culture and commitment to climate policy.
This is the first French presidential visit to the Crescent City since Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1976. The only other French presidential visit was made by Charles de Gaulle in 1960.
After a state dinner in Washington, D.C., Thursday with President Biden and a group of celebrities such as John Legend and lawmakers like Kevin McCarthy, diplomatic programming Friday did not officially begin until the early afternoon.
Macron started his tour of New Orleans in Jackson Square at the French Quarter, where he met Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who could soon face a recall.
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Alongside Cantrell, Macron and his wife met Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, who has expressed interest in running for governor of the Pelican State in 2023.
The French tour of the French Quarter continued on foot down Royal Street to the Historic New Orleans Collection, where Macron met with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Edwards is slated to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on climate change, after Louisiana accounted for over half of America's liquefied natural gas exports in 2021. Louisiana's 14 refineries also register for a little under one-fifth of America's refining capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
France is no stranger to energy shortages in 2022. Russia's natural gas accounted for about 17% of France's supply ahead of the cutoff from the continued war in Ukraine.
Guerilla climate change activists have made headlines in France and Europe recently to protest energy usage by defacing classic works of art. French artist Claude Monet's "Haystacks" was splashed with mashed potato by German climate activists in October.
Macron himself recently criticized American gas exporters, stating in a Brussels press conference in October that "The North American economy is making choices for the sake of attractiveness, which I respect, but they create a double standard."
American gas exports to France have grown more than fourfold in the past calendar year, and Louisiana's own supply is sure to be a topic of discussion between leaders. While the gas exports have increased, so have prices.
New Orleans, meanwhile, has spared no expense in hosting France's president and first lady. Many French Quarter businesses have decorated with the "bleu, blanc, et rouge" in anticipation of their arrival.
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Macron's itinerary continues in the evening with an address on shared Francophone heritage at the New Orleans Museum of Modern Art and then a dinner with local figures in cinema and music at the elegant Windsor Court Hotel's Grill Room.