News, Culture & Society

Jill Biden says she ‘instantly knew’ that she liked Brigitte Macron

First lady Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron split off from their husbands for a brief tour of Planet Word in downtown Washington, D.C., where they spoke about their friendship and love of education. 

‘We instantly, you know, knew that we liked each other,’ Dr. Biden said of Brigitte, who she’s spent time with at a number of events outside the U.S., but never hosted stateside. 

The Bidens are hosting the Macrons Thursday night for the Biden administration’s first state dinner.

‘France is our oldest ally, of course, and we’re just so excited that Brigitte and Emmanuel are here, of course we’ve been with them before, but to have them in the United States is something very special,’ the first lady told reporters of the decision to host the Macrons. 

Brigitte read from a piece of paper – in English – and thanked the Americans first lady. 

‘Dear Jill, thank you so much for planning such a visit. I am really glad we are able to share this moment together,’ the spouse of French President Emmanuel Macron said. ‘I know we both share a love and lifelong commitment to education. This really means a lot.’ 

‘We are friends, we are friends,’ she said. 

The two first ladies grabbed hands. 

‘Sorry for my English, but I’m trying,’ Macron said.  

Their event consisted of a tour of Planet Word’s Schwarzman Library, a poetry reading with some Q&A from local students, and then a group picture. 

In the Schwarzman library, which seems to stretch on forever because of the mirrored ceilings, Planet Word CEO Ann Friedman demonstrated one of the musuem’s nine dioramas – this one of Le Petit Prince, written by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupery. 

‘WE ARE FRIENDS,’ said Brigitte Macron (right) as she and first lady Jill Biden split off from President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron for a brief tour of Planet Word in downtown Washington, D.C. 

Brigitte Macron (right) read her thank yous in English from a piece of paper, as first lady Jill Biden said 'We instantly knew that we liked each other'

Brigitte Macron (right) read her thank yous in English from a piece of paper, as first lady Jill Biden said ‘We instantly knew that we liked each other’ 

Planet Word CEO Ann Friedman show Brigitte Macron (left) and first lady Jill Biden (right) a diorama of The Little Prince in the  Schwarzman Library at Planet Word

Planet Word CEO Ann Friedman show Brigitte Macron (left) and first lady Jill Biden (right) a diorama of The Little Prince in the  Schwarzman Library at Planet Word 

First lady Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron greet students at Planet Word in downtown Washington, D.C. Thursday

First lady Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron greet students at Planet Word in downtown Washington, D.C. Thursday  

First lady Jill Biden squeezes a greeter followed by Brigitte Macron at Thursday's tour of Planet Word in downtown Washington, D.C.

First lady Jill Biden squeezes a greeter followed by Brigitte Macron at Thursday’s tour of Planet Word in downtown Washington, D.C. 

First lady Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron pose with students at the conclusion of their Planet Word tour on Thursday

First lady Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron pose with students at the conclusion of their Planet Word tour on Thursday 

Friedman pointed out that Le Petit Prince was the ‘most translated book in the world’ after the Bible.

‘I’ll have to re-read it,’ Dr. Biden commented. 

The two women then walked over to the museum’s interactive reading table, where books are placed on holders that light them up and read them out loud. The spouses watched a copy of A Wrinkle in Time come alive. 

Several students were seated nearby, all French immersion students from Silver Spring International School, and Biden – ever the teacher – questioned them about how their lessons were going. 

‘I took French for six years.  But I don’t remember a lot of it,’ Biden said. ‘I’m taking Spanish now.’ 

The two spouses then attended a bilingual poetry reading – by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón and former National Student Poet Maya Salameh – in front of Planet Word’s giant Word Wall, before engaging in a little Q&A with the students. 

Both spouses were peppered with questions about their lives – some in English, some in French. 

Macron was asked, in French, where she purchased her shoes – black suede stiletto heels with an embellishment. 

‘About my shoes and my style. I have a designer Nicolas Ghesquière and he knows all my measurements and he does a great job,’ she said via a translator. 

‘It’s another man of my life,’ Macron said to laughs. 

‘It is easier to do my job. Otherwise I’m always in jeans and t-shirts. It’s my uniform,’ she added. 

Dr. Biden was asked why she decided to keep teaching while in the White House.

She recalled her husband asking her if she could handle juggling the two jobs – as the first lady position takes up a lot of time, despite being unpaid. 

‘I don’t know, but I’m going to try,’ Dr. Biden recalled telling Joe. 

She was also asked if she’s been treated differently as a teacher by her students since becoming first lady. 

‘You know, funny enough, it’s like their first day, they have to go through security. So they’re sort of like “oh my gosh,” so we say we’re not looking for anything but weapons. So they check their bookbags and everything. But then, you know, after a week or two – they don’t even remember I’m first lady,’ Dr. Biden answered. 

‘It’s just like, I’m their English teacher,’ she said.  

The Bidens and the Macrons ate at Fiola Mare on Wednesday evening - an Italian restaurant on the bank of the Potomac River where an entree runs between $50 and $150. The menu includes a variety of pasta, seafood and cheeses

The Bidens and the Macrons ate at Fiola Mare on Wednesday evening – an Italian restaurant on the bank of the Potomac River where an entree runs between $50 and $150. The menu includes a variety of pasta, seafood and cheeses

First lady Jill Biden (left) has spent time with both of the Macrons. She's photographed at the Tokyo summer olympics in July 2021 with French President Emmanuel Macron (right) as they both led their countries' respective delegations to the opening ceremony

First lady Jill Biden (left) has spent time with both of the Macrons. She’s photographed at the Tokyo summer olympics in July 2021 with French President Emmanuel Macron (right) as they both led their countries’ respective delegations to the opening ceremony  

'It's nice, two friends together, just like sisters,' First Lady Jill Biden (right) said after sipping Chardonnay with French First Lady Brigitte Macron (left) at Il Marchese in Rome

‘It’s nice, two friends together, just like sisters,’ First Lady Jill Biden (right) said after sipping Chardonnay with French First Lady Brigitte Macron (left) at Il Marchese in Rome 

Dr. Biden has previously spent solo time with both the French president and his wife. 

She and Emmanuel Macron both led their countries’ respective delegations to the opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2021 summer olympics.

Then at last year’s G20, Dr. Biden sipped Chardonnay with Brigitte Macron at a restaurant in Rome, as President Biden tried to patch up the U.S.’s relationship with France, after a new pact between the U.S., U.K. and Australia derailed a profitable French submarine deal. 

‘It’s nice, two friends together, just like sisters,’ Dr. Biden told reporters after she sipped and snacked with Brigitte Macron at Il Marchese. 

On Wednesday night, the Bidens took the Macrons out to an intimate dinner at Fiola Mare, a Michelin-starred Italian and seafood restaurant in Georgetown, which overlooks the Potomac River. 

French President Emmanuel Macron puts his arm around President Joe Biden as they leave Fiola Mare restaurant after a private dinner

French President Emmanuel Macron puts his arm around President Joe Biden as they leave Fiola Mare restaurant after a private dinner 

First Lady Jill Biden and French First Lady Brigitte Macron leave the restaurant together

First Lady Jill Biden and French First Lady Brigitte Macron leave the restaurant together

First lady Jill Biden revealed menu and place settings for Thursday's state dinner

First lady Jill Biden revealed menu and place settings for Thursday’s state dinner

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron will be feted by the Bidens in a glass pavilion on the South Lawn of the White House

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron will be feted by the Bidens in a glass pavilion on the South Lawn of the White House

The table settings are a nod to the colors in the French and American flags - red, white and blue

The table settings are a nod to the colors in the French and American flags – red, white and blue

White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford (left) and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison (right) show off the plates of food that will be served at the state dinner

White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford (left) and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison (right) show off the plates of food that will be served at the state dinner

Menu for Thursday’s State Dinner with France

Main Course: 

Butter Poached Maine Lobster

American Osetra Caviar

Delicata Squash Raviolo

Tarragon Sauce

Calotte of Beef, Shallot Marmalade

Triple Cooked Butter Potatoes

Sunchoke & Creamed Watercress

Red Wine Reduction

American Artisanal Cheeses Course:

Rogue River Blue – 2019/2020 World Cheese Awards World Champion Gold Made by Rogue Creamery with milk sourced from Grant Pass, Oregon

Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog – 2022 World Cheese Bronze Medalist

Soft Ripened Goat Cheese – Deer Creek Cheddar Cheese from a small family run creamery in Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Dessert Course: 

Orange Chiffon Cake

Roasted Pears with Citrus Sauce

Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

Wines:  

Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay ‘Napa Valley’ 2018

Anakota Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Knights Valley’ 2019

Roederer Estate Brut Rosé N/V

And then on Thursday night, more than 300 guests in sweeping gowns and tuxedos will descend upon the White House for an evening of music, toasts and amore. 

Guests will walk through a snow-covered forest in the White House’s East Wing, which is decorated for Christmas, and gather under a glass pavilion on the South Lawn for the dinner.

Chandeliers that will hang above them; candles will light the night sky; and images fleurs de lis, stained-glass roses and irises will be flashed on the pavilion walls. 

It will be heated too. 

Dr. Biden previewed the night to come on Wednesday.

‘The design of this dinner was inspired by the shared colors of our flags – red, white, and blue – and our common values: liberty and democracy, equality and fellowship. These form the bedrock upon which our enduring friendship was built,’ she said.

Eight weeks of planning went into Thursday night’s dinner. 

The White House staff had outside help from Fête, an event planning and design production firm out of New York led by founder Jung Lee.

At the sit-down dinner, the tables will be covered in blue table clothes. Arrangements of red and white flowers, sprinkled with red candles, will form the centerpieces. 

The flower arrangements feature France’s national flower, the iris, and American Beauty roses. There will also be piano roses to honor President Macron’s love of the piano.

The gold and white plates that guests will dine off of are rented. Typically state dinners use official White House china from one of the previous administrations but those place settings are not allowed outside the White House. Because the dinner is taking place out on the South Lawn, the china settings can’t be used.

Completing the table’s look are short French-forged champagne vessels that will feature American sparkling wine.

Two hundred live lobsters from Maine arrived at the White House on Tuesday to be served as the main course. 

Three award-winning cheese will also be served – as well as wines from the Napa Valley.    

The wines were picked by the first lady.  

‘We had a tasting,’ said White House social secretary Carlos Elizondo.

White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford said the cuisine was inspired by the seasons.

‘We want to honor everything that is beautifully American,’ she noted. 

‘The first thing that we consider is the season and next thing is the preferences of the guests because we want to honor the things that they like,’ she said. ‘Everything is very well thought of and very thoughtfully made, and it so happens that the White House garden had the squashes ready for us so what you see in the raviolo came from the garden.’

White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison created the dessert: orange chiffon cake, poached pears and crème fraiche ice cream.

‘Then, in the very front, we’ve placed the flags of the United States and France on the outer part of the cake,’ she said as she displayed her work.

The Statue of Liberty will be the backdrop for the President Biden’s toast and is featured in the menu programs, which have navy covers with the gold seal of the United States. 

A graphic rendering of the Statue of Liberty is on translucent paper on the first and last pages of the menu.

The statue was a gift from the people of France. 

‘This State Dinner will not only reflect the shared colors, history, and values of the United States and France, it also shows the warmth and heart of our First Lady and this White House,’ said Elizondo.

Guests will be feted by Grammy-winner musician Jon Batiste, accompanied by his father, Michael Batiste, and ‘The President’s Own’ United States Marine Band, and the Army and Air Force Strolling Strings.

Batiste is a New Orleans native. 

The Macrons will visit that city on Friday for several cultural programs. 

The menu programs have navy colors and feature the Statue of Liberty

The menu programs have navy colors and feature the Statue of Liberty

Butter Poached Maine Lobster; American Osetra Caviar; Delicata Squash Raviolo

Tarragon Sauce Calotte of Beef; Shallot Marmalade Triple Cooked Butter Potatoes Sunchoke; Creamed Watercress Red Wine Reduction

The dinner plates: Butter Poached Maine Lobster; American Osetra Caviar; Delicata Squash Raviolo (left) and Tarragon Sauce Calotte of Beef; Shallot Marmalade Triple Cooked Butter Potatoes Sunchoke; Creamed Watercress Red Wine Reduction (right)

Cheese course: Rogue River Blue; Oregon Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog; Soft Ripened Goat Cheese

Dessert Course: Orange Chiffon Cake; Roasted Pears with Citrus Sauce; Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

Cheese course: Rogue River Blue; Oregon Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog; Soft Ripened Goat Cheese and the Dessert Course: Orange Chiffon Cake; Roasted Pears with Citrus Sauce; Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

The program for Thursday night's state dinner

The program for Thursday night’s state dinner

The table settings include gold and white plates and French-forged champagne vessels

The table settings include gold and white plates and French-forged champagne vessels

The flower arrangements feature France's national flower, the iris, and American Beauty roses

The flower arrangements feature France’s national flower, the iris, and American Beauty roses

The guest list is practically a state secret but is expected to be released the night of the dinner.

It is the hottest ticket in town as lawmakers, Democratic donors and longtime friends of the Bidens want to attend.

Elizondo said many parts of the government were involved in deciding who got the coveted invitation. 

‘Many offices have been involved in and, you know, we’re trying to sort of bring in all the many supporters and, and friends of the President, the First Lady for their first state dinner,’ he said.

The cost of the dinner hasn’t been announced. 

It’s paid for by the State Department since it’s an official state occasion. 

But an event like a state visit involves many stake-holders, including the White House, State Department, protocol office, and the military.  

French President Emmanuel Macron, followed by wife Brigitte Macron, visited Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday

French President Emmanuel Macron, followed by wife Brigitte Macron, visited Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday

French President Emmanuel Macron pauses after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

French President Emmanuel Macron pauses after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron place flowers on the tomb of French-American military engineer Pierre Charles L'Enfant at Arlington National Cemetery

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron place flowers on the tomb of French-American military engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant at Arlington National Cemetery

The Bidens’ first state dinner is happening nearly two years into his term – by comparison Barack Obama had six at this point. 

But the COVID pandemic delayed the normal pageantry that comes with a visit by a foreign leader. 

Macron was also the guest for former President Donald Trump’s first state dinner.

Biden and Macron’s relationship got off to a rocky start. At one point, Macron briefly recalled France’s ambassador to the United States  after the White House announced a deal to sell nuclear submarines to Australia, undermining a French contract.

But the relationship has mended and Macron has been one of Biden’s staunchest allies in the response to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

The French president and his wife arrived Tuesday night. 

Macron visited NASA headquarters with Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday.

 He and Brigitte also visited Arlington National Cemetery, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

White House spokesman John Kirby said President Biden chose France for his first state visit because it’s a testament to his foreign policy philosophy – that the United States’ strength is in its alliances. 

‘Our alliance is something that no other nation in the world can match — the network of American alliances. France is our oldest one,’ he said at Monday’s White House press briefing.

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



Find local lawyers and law firms at USAttorneys.com