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Chicago To Be One Of New French President’s First International Visits

France's President Francois Hollande (Photo credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP/GettyImages)

France’s President Francois Hollande (Photo credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP/GettyImages)

Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
Jim Williams, a native Chicagoan, co-anchors the CBS 2 Chicago Wee...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Are French folks in Chicago excited about the upcoming NATO summit? In a word: oui.

That’s because the delegation traveling from France includes a brand new president, Francois Hollande.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports it’s proving to be a whirlwind week for Hollande, who took office as France’s president on Monday, will head to the G8 summit at Camp David later this week, before the NATO summit in Chicago on Sunday.

He’s also busy getting to know other world leaders. Hollande might not be able to see much of Chicago, according to French Consul General Graham Paul. But Paul said he’ll be happy to describe his own love of the city with French reporters traveling with Hollande.

“It’s a great city to live in. For French, it’s a sort of paradise. We have everything we need,” Paul said.

The coverage of NATO, and of Chicago itself, might provide an important endorsement of the city as a tourist destination.

Jack McCord, the executive director of Alliance Française de Chicago, which promotes French culture, said, “anytime a city — or an organization — has the chance to get to an international scale, and to become much more well-known on the world stage, it’s a great thing. … for the entire city.”
While at the NATO summit, Hollande will likely emphasize his aim to pull French troops out of Afghanistan — a very important issue that will be at the center of news coverage back to France.

Perhaps people in one of Europe’s largest economies will also hear Paul say what an easy place Chicago is for tourists.

“They are always surprised to learn that I’m taking the bus every day, to go from my apartment to my office. Try to do that in Houston. Try to do that in Atlanta,” Paul said.

This will be Hollande’s first visit to Chicago. When he took office on Tuesday, he became the first socialist president of France since Francois Mitterand.

Hollande will be meeting lots of leaders for the first time at the NATO summit. He has published several books. He also supports same-sex marriage and adoption for LGBT couples.