9 Jul 2012

French and German leaders mark their alliance

9:19 pm on 9 July 2012

President Francois Hollande of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany met in Reims in northern France on Sunday to commemorate the alliance between their countries that formed the basis of the European Union.

Fifty years ago their predecessors Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer also met there in an act of symbolic post-war reconciliation, the BBC reports.

"The European Union is going through a crisis - it won't be the first, it won't be the last," Mr Hollande said in a speech at Notre Dame Cathedral. "But ... it forces us to move toward a new phase of development."

"Mrs Chancellor, I propose to you that we, together, walk through a new door to years that will make the friendship between our two countries even deeper."

The meeting was a faithful reenactment of the 1962 encounter. Even the rainy weather was the same, as was the lunch menu:

Cold salmon, filet of beef with peas, braised carrots and potatoes, with raspberry macarons for desert. The meal was accompanied by three bottles of vintage Champagne from the region.