’Tis the season for giving — and as President Joe Biden hosted French President Emmanuel Macron in the first state visit of his administration, all eyes were on what the Biden and Macrons would give each other (as well as what they would talk about, of course, and what they were having for dinner).
And it’s clear that each party — or, at least, the diplomatic teams that coordinate with the heads of state — put a lot of thought into the presidential presents.
Macron and wife Brigitte Macron selected four gifts for the American president, including a vinyl version and a CD of the original soundtrack from the 1966 film “Un Homme et une Femme” — the movie that the Bidens said they watched on their very first date.
The vinyl French film soundtrack got some appreciation on Twitter, with some readers describing it as “thoughtful” or “excellent.”
The Macrons were also poised to gift President Biden a cup from Christofle (a French maker of fine silverware) symbolizing the first links between the U.S. and France; a sweater from House Saint James; and a watch from LIP Horlogeri.
For First Lady Jill Biden, the Macrons were giving a copy of Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” and “The Plague, The Fall, Exile and the Kingdom, and Selected Essays” by Albert Camus, according to the French president’s office
A White House pool reporter noted that the Bidens were giving the Macrons a custom mirror made of fallen wood from the White House grounds, which was crafted by an American furniture maker to perfectly reproduce a mirror from the White House collection that hangs in the West Wing.
President Biden also stuck with the vinyl theme, giving Macron a custom record collection of great American musicians, as well as an archival facsimile print of Thomas Edison’s 1877 patent of the American phonograph.
And First Lady Jill Biden selected a gold and emerald pendant necklace made by a French-American designer for Mrs. Macron.
The show of goodwill comes as France and the U.S. look to reset their diplomatic relations after the Biden-Macron relationship got off to something of a choppy start — including Macron briefly recalling France’s ambassador to the U.S. last year after the White House announced a deal to sell nuclear submarines to Australia, which undermined a French contract to sell diesel-powered subs. But the relationship has been turning around, especially in light of the Western response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Still, the state visit is expected to include Macron criticizing some aspects of the Biden administration’s climate law that the French leader sees as a bad deal for Europe.
But differences will be put aside for a feast on Thursday night that includes butter-poached Maine lobster paired with caviar, an all-American cheese course, and some of the White House’s own honey.