President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron shaking hands (© Andrew Harnik/AP Images)
President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands before a toast at the December 1 state dinner in Washington. (© Andrew Harnik/AP Images)

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, for the Biden administration’s first state dinner, held at the White House December 1.

The two countries share cultural ties and a commitment to democratic principles.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said France is not only the United States’ oldest ally, but a vital partner on critical issues such as supporting Ukraine and addressing tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

President Biden and Jill Biden posing for photos with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron (© Patrick Semansky/AP Images)
(© Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

Macron returned to the U.S. for his second state dinner in just four years. (He was previously fêted by former President Donald Trump at a state dinner in 2018.)

In the photo above, the Bidens and the Macrons pose at the North Portico of the White House as they arrive for the state dinner.

A state dinner honoring a visiting head of government or reigning monarch is “one of the grandest and most glamorous of White House affairs,” according to the White House Historical Association. Cabinet members, legislators, diplomats and other prominent figures populate the guest list, and invitations are highly coveted.

Man and woman holding hands while arriving at White House (© Susan Walsh/AP Images)
(© Susan Walsh/AP Images)

Here, TV talk show host/comedian Stephen Colbert and his wife, Evelyn McGee-Colbert, arrive at the White House, which is bedecked with winter holiday decorations, including life-size replicas (right) of the Biden family’s pets — dog Commander and cat Willow.

Two men shaking hands over table (© Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(© Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas (above, right) shakes hands with a fellow guest at the state dinner, which was held in tents on the South Lawn of the White House.

Menu and place setting for state dinner (© Andrew Harnik/AP Images)
(© Andrew Harnik/AP Images)

A place setting is topped with the evening’s menu (above), featuring butter-poached Maine lobster, caviar, calotte of beef, American artisanal cheeses and a dessert of orange chiffon cake with pears and crème fraîche ice cream.

Grammy-winning musician Jon Batiste (below), a Louisiana native, performed at the state dinner, drawing upon a repertoire of R&B (rhythm and blues), jazz, classical and American roots music. (The Macrons’ itinerary for the U.S. visit includes a stop in New Orleans, which is known for its French heritage.)

Musician Jon Batiste performing (© Andrew Harnik/AP Images)
(© Andrew Harnik/AP Images)

The Macrons’ three-day state visit began November 30, with a stop at NASA headquarters alongside Vice President Harris. The following day, the couple attended a State Department luncheon in their honor, co-hosted by the vice president and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The French president wraps up his U.S. visit on December 2 in New Orleans. There, he will tour the city’s French Quarter, discuss climate change with Louisiana’s governor, speak about French-language initiatives at the New Orleans Museum of Art and attend a dinner showcasing New Orleans culture alongside representatives from the film and music industries.