France's President Emmanuel Macron is the special guest at the first state dinner of President Joe Biden's administration.
A state dinner is a high honor for the leaders of the closest allies of the United States.
The decorations are red, white and blue to show off the shared colors of the two countries.
First Lady Jill Biden worked to organize the event. She said the two nations have common values of freedom, democracy, equality and friendship.
"These form the bedrock upon which our enduring friendship was built," she said.
The meal includes American cheeses, lobster from the northeastern state of Maine, and beef. The dessert, or sweet course, is ice cream, fruit and an orange cake.
Biden said the dinner includes beautiful decorations and plates. She said she remembered when her mother would set the table and light candles even if the meal was fish taken from the freezer and heated in the oven.
"I learned that setting a table can be an act of love," she said.
Macron and his wife, Brigitte, arrived in the U.S on Tuesday night.
Carlos Elizondo is the White House social secretary. He said "making people feel comfortable and at home" matters most to the Bidens.
Dark blue cloths covered tables for 300 guests. They are decorated with red candles and red, white and blue flowers. The white flowers are irises, the official flower of France.
The two presidents are speaking in front of an image of the Statue of Liberty. The sculpture was a gift to the United States from France in the 1800s. Guests are drinking sparkling wine served in French champagne glasses.
The state dinner comes just days after the lighting of the national Christmas Tree. The White House has been decorated for the holidays.
Jon Batiste, a Grammy-winning singer, is the head of the musical program.
The Bidens ate dinner with the Macrons on Wednesday at a restaurant in the Georgetown area of Washington.
It is the first state dinner in three years, but not the first state dinner for the French leader and his wife. They attended a state dinner hosted by President Donald Trump in 2018.
I'm Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on a report by the Associated Press.
Words in This Story
guest –n. a person invited to visit or stay at someone's home
decoration –n. an object that is made to look nice and often linked with a holiday or special event
equality –n. a state of having the same rights and social level as others
endure –v. to go on without end
oven –n. a device used for cooking
sparkling –adj. producing small flashes of light
sculpture –n. a piece of art usually made by forming clay, stone or metal