|The Presidents walk the west front of Monticello with their guide|
Charlottesville, Virginia - President Barack Obama and President François Hollande on Monday afternoon paid tribute to the centuries-old alliance between the US and France with a visit to Monticello, President Thomas Jefferson's historic plantation estate that was the canvas for his multi-faceted genius for four decades.
|The Presidents with guide Leslie Bowman|
The two leaders were making more history: It was the first time a sitting president has escorted a foreign head of state to Monticello. Hollande arrived in the US on Monday shortly before joining Mr. Obama at Andrews Air Force Base for the flight to Charlottesville.
Standing with Hollande in the green-walled Grand Foyer after their tour, President Obama said the visit also represented "the incredible bond and the incredible gifts that France gave us."
|President Hollande admires the mountaintop view|
For both France and the United States, Monticello is "a reminder for both of us that we are going to continue to fight on behalf of the rights of all peoples, something I know France has always been committed to and we are committed to as well," President Obama said.
The alliance between the US and France has transitioned into one of global magnitude, the two Presidents wrote in an Op-Ed published on Monday, and should serve as "a model for international cooperation" for other nations that dealing with "transnational challenges" that include "advancing freedom and human rights."
|The Presidents make remarks in the Grand Foyer|
"We were allies in the time of Jefferson and Lafayette. We are still allies today," Hollande said. "We were friends in the time of Jefferson and Lafayette, and we will remain friends forever."
Hollande also quipped that "Jefferson purchased Louisiana from Napoleon. And today we are not demanding anything."
"It was a good bargain, though," President Obama said, laughing.
There's also a Marseilles fig tree gifted to Mrs. Obama by Monticello, cultivated from one of the trees in Jefferson's vast orchards. He inherited the land from his father at 26, and the first improvement he made was planting an orchard of fruit trees.
Jefferson's kitchen featured a clock for precise cooking, an innovation for the time period. The two leaders also viewed Jefferson's study, where he would write from a special bed he invented for the purpose.
|A snack aboard the "mini" Air Force One|
"The aircraft offers upgraded communication capabilities from the previous generation of C-32 aircraft. The 89th Air Wing at Andrews Air Force Base now has three such modified C-32 aircraft to support their worldwide mission, a process which started back in 2005," the White House said.
|Boarding the "mini" Air Force One|
The separate French and American motorcades left the landing zone at 7:20 PM and President Obama was back at the White House at 7:24 PM.
On Tuesday morning, President Obama will welcome Hollande to the White House with an elaborate formal Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn. The two leaders will have bilateral meetings, and a joint press conference. Hollande will then be feted at a State Department lunch co-hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.
On Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM, President and Mrs. Obama will honor Hollande as they host their seventh State Dinner. Singer Mary J. Blige will perform for the 348 guests invited, aides announced today. The menu will feature bounty sourced from across America, focusing on small and local growers and food artisans.
*CLICK HERE for links to all posts about the State Visit.
*Top photo by Chuck Kennedy/White House; second and third by Pete Souza/White House; others from l'Elysee