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French Ambassador Visits New Orleans

French Ambassador Gerard Araud at the French American Chamber of Commerce in New Orleans.
Baylee Badawy
/
French Ambassador Gerard Araud at the French American Chamber of Commerce in New Orleans.

The French Ambassador to the United States has made his first visit to New Orleans. He met with city leaders and other groups to explore future business and cultural exchanges.

Ambassador Gerard Araud thanked New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu for his introduction — using the distinctly French pronunciation.

“Thank you Mayor Landrieu. I really can’t say it in an American way.” 

Araud visited the Lycée Francais immersion charter school, saying he was impressed with the pubic school’s goal for economic and racial diversity. He’s also meeting with French business interests, which include Veolia Transportation, which operates the city's streetcars and buses.

“The French companies, like the U.S. companies, they go where the profit is. Let’s be frank," said Araud. "In a sense my job is easy because when you tell the French, you speak about New Orleans or Louisiana, it’s something of course which has an echo in them. They are ready to listen to you.” 

Landrieu says France has been vital to the city — its roots evident in the 250,000 Louisiana residents he says speak French today.

“Our architecture, our food, our music, our history, everything that we have in large measure is a result of the influence that the French people have had on us,” Landrieu said.

The ambassador says he hopes to enhance future relations, and looks forward to the city’s 300th anniversary in 2018.

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