French President visits New Orleans to sign agreement


Kincaid Leger

The New Orleans Museum of Art shortly before Macron’s speech began.

Kincaid Leger, Staff

Emmanuel Macron, president of the French Republic, visited New Orleans to discuss the climate and celebrate the cultural connection between New Orleans and France.

The French President met with Louisianan politicians including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and New Orleans Mayor, LaToya Cantrell on a range of topics including a green energy agreement, Louisiana and France’s shared history, and the expansion of foundations supporting French language education in Louisiana.

This marked the first visit to the Crescent City by a sitting French president in nearly 50 years.

After being greeted by Edwards, Macron went to Jackson Square to give a news conference with Cantrell, Lieutenant Governor Nungesser, and other current and past Louisiana politicians.

According to New Orleans native Marigny Hemenway who met the president, Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron enjoyed their reception and were excited to be in New Orleans.

“They kept talking about their arrival at the airport with the brass band and Mardi Gras Indians,” Hemenway said. “They truly enjoyed themselves, and for myself, it was truly an experience I will never forget.”

A Climate Agreement

Later that afternoon, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on climate, overseen by Macron.

According to an official press release from the Office of the Governor, “The MOU establishes the intention to increase the respective parties’ presence in the energy sector with an emphasis on clean energy, and formally creates a French technical expert position for the energy transition to be based in Louisiana.”

France is Louisiana’s second largest foreign job creator and already accounts for over $1 billion in trade each year, the press release said. According to the MOU, both the French and Louisianan Government will seek to further promote mutual economic investment.

The agreement cites Louisiana’s unique historical connection to France, and the dire threat of climate change to Louisiana as a rationale for mutual cooperation in addressing future clean energy developments.

Macron’s Speech Promises New French Language Programs

Macron gave a speech in French at the New Orleans Museum of Art in a private venue later that evening. The president told guests that the shared language and history of New Orleans and France gave him a sense of “familiar difference” and of home.

Macron praised francophone groups in Louisiana for giving rise to the unique cultural milieu of the state.
He also connected the history of these groups to recent endeavors to revitalize the language.

Though he did not make any specific promises, Macron announced that new foundations meant to promote the French language will be added to already-existing programs in Louisiana, funded in part by the French government. 

Since the 1960s, French language revitalization measures, pioneered by the state-run Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, have relied heavily on French funding and French teachers who came to Louisiana to teach, according to 

After further discussing the history of French speaking communities in Louisiana, Macron ended his speech by declaring “vive La France, vive la Louisiane, et laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Macron meets with Musk

Macron’s visit to New Orleans came at the tail-end of his larger visit to America, which began last Tuesday. 

Macron tackled a range of issues, from the war in Ukraine to the declaration of the baguette as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, and met with high-ranking officials including President Joe Biden, said French newspaper Le Monde

While in New Orleans, Macron also met with American billionaire businessman Elon Musk, according to the Associated Press. Macron discussed with Musk, the majority shareholder in electric vehicle company Tesla, the production and distribution of electric vehicles as a part of France’s green energy goals. 

The state-owned French news agency France 24 reported that Macron had voiced concerns about content moderation on Twitter, the social media platform Musk purchased earlier this year.

After their meeting, Macron tweeted “transparent user policies, significant reinforcement of content moderation and protection of freedom of speech: efforts have to be made by Twitter to comply with European regulations.” 

Les Bons Temps

Macron finished his trip to the Big Easy with a late-night venture down Frenchman’s Street, alongside former Mayor of New Orleans and Senior advisor to President Joe Biden, Mitch Landrieu, said. 

While Macron was walking, he was serenaded by a local trombonist, Lisa Q. Mount, playing the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” said. 

Macron also enjoyed live music at three clubs he visited, as well as watched at least two street performances. After visiting the Royal Frenchman Hotel, Macron wished goodbye to Landrieu and drove away on Dauphine Street, to the shouts of “laissez les bons temps rouler” from the crowds.