Obama and Hollande tour Monticello - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Obama and Hollande tour Monticello

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) -

President Barack Obama is hosting the president of France at the White house as part of a state visit.

Tuesday night, Francois Hollande will be the honored guest at a state dinner in Washington. On Monday, Hollande and Obama traveled to Central Virginia.

President Obama is a student of history, and he understands how important the country of France was to Thomas Jefferson, one of his predecessors. By bringing the French president to Virginia, Obama hopes to demonstrate the relationships forged by Jefferson more than 200 years ago, lives on today.

They may be two of the most powerful men on earth, but on a private tour of one America's most historic sites, Mr. Obama and Mr. Hollande transformed into students once again.

They made the quick trip to Charlottesville aboard Air Force One as part of a visit designed to show how close the two countries are.

"I thought this was an appropriate way to start a state visit because what it signifies is the incredible history between the United States and France," said President Obama.  

Jefferson served as an envoy to France shortly after leaving the governorship of Virginia. He fell in love with the country and returned to Monticello armed with art, books and relics of his time in Paris. Many of those materials are still on display. They represent the important bond established by Jefferson 225 years ago.

"But as we see as travel through his home, what he also represents is the incredible bond and incredible gifts that France gave to the United States," said the president.  

And in a world with increasing uncertainty, both leaders hope small displays of friendship like this will continue the Jeffersonian legacy.

"We will have the opportunity to talk about not only our current bonds and alliance, but also the ways we can strengthen our cooperation in the future," Mr. Obama said. 

That conversation continues Tuesday with a special state luncheon hosted by Vice President Biden. In attendance- Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, also being served, a special chocolate desert hand made by Richmond based Tim Gearhart.

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