BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron will head to Louisiana on Friday to celebrate longstanding cultural ties and to discuss energy policy.
Macron’s office said he will meet with political leaders and is scheduled to see the historic French Quarter, the heart of the city. The Advocate reported that the visit will be the first by a French president since Valery Giscard d’Estaing traveled to Lafayette and New Orleans in 1976. The only other French president to visit Louisiana was Charles de Gaulle in 1960.
Macron is planning to go to Jackson Square in New Orleans, where he will be welcomed by Mayor LaToya Cantrell. He will then head to the Historic New Orleans Collection to discuss climate change impacts with Gov. John Bel Edwards. Macron is also scheduled to meet with energy company representatives.
Edwards, a Democrat, has been outspoken about the perils of climate change, in a state where tens of thousands of jobs are tied to the oil and gas industry. This makes the stop to New Orleans “very emblematic” of climate-related efforts, French officials stressed.
In addition, Macron and Edwards will sign a memorandum of understanding “to further expand and enhance the strong cultural connections between France and Louisiana in the areas of the economy, clean energy and the environment,” according to the governor’s office.
During Macron’s visit to Washington on Thursday, he and President Joe Biden released a joint statement expressing “their deep concern regarding the growing impact of climate change and nature loss” and said they “intend to continue to galvanize domestic and global action to address it.”
In New Orleans, Macron is expected to announce plans to expand programming to support French language education in U.S.
“We want the French language to be a language for all and therefore give a fresh image of the French in the United States,” Macron said Wednesday in a speech to the French community in Washington D.C.
New Orleans is where the Louisiana Purchase was finalized, transferring Louisiana from France to the United States in 1803. The state’s most populous city is also home to the French Quarter, the more than 300-year-old historic heart of New Orleans. First settled in the 1700s, ravaged by fire twice, it is 13 blocks long and roughly six blocks wide. It is best known as a tourist spot and commercial district where a reimagined French Market, fine restaurants, antique shops and art galleries coexist alongside T-shirt shops, strip joints and bars blasting live music by cover bands.