State Visit to France – day 3

Motiv: The King and Queen in one of the control rooms at the CNES space centre, from which parts of the space probe Rosetta are controlled. A model of the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, on which the space probe's lander Philae has landed, can be seen in the photograph. Photo: royalcourt.se

Motiv: The King and Queen visit an A350 under construction. Photo: royalcourt.se

Motiv: The King and Queen visit an Airbus 350 under construction. Photo: Regis Duvignau/AP

Motiv: The King and Queen arrive in Toulouse. Photo: royalcourt.se

The King and Queen's state visit concluded in Toulouse on Thursday 4 December.

The King and Queen at the CNES space centre
15:33 The King and Queen's final programme event during the state visit to France began.

CNESexternal link, opens in new window, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, is the French space agency. It was founded in 1961 under President de Gaulle.

CNES is also responsible for the famous Rosetta space probe, which landed on a comet on 12 November 2014. The work relating to Rosetta was controlled from CNES's base in Toulouse, and Rosetta was based partly on Swedish technology.

The afternoon at CNES began with Jean-Louise Le Gall presenting the company and emphasising that The King and Queen's visit helps to strengthen our bilateral cooperation.

Presentation of CNES. Photo: Natalie Sial/The Swedish Ministry of Employment

Presentation of CNES. Photo: Natalie Sial/The Swedish Ministry of Employment

Sweden and France have worked together for many years. Marc Pircher, Director of CNES in Toulouse, explained that aerospace work includes navigation, atmospheric analyses and meteorology. CNES also works to monitor the earth's water resources and to look for life in space.

The visit to CNES concluded with a press conference. 

Visit to the Basilica of St. Sernin
14:45 The King and Queen were welcomed to the Basilica of St. Sernin by the Archbishop of Toulouse, Robert Le Gall, and Priest Vincent Gallois. After a tour of the basilica, the visit concluded with organ recitals of two pieces by César Franck and Louise Verne, performed by Michel Bouvard.

The King and Queen signed the guestbook at the Basilica of St. Sernin. Photo: royalcourt.se

The King and Queen signed the guestbook at the Basilica of St. Sernin. Photo: royalcourt.se

The Basilica of St. Sernin Photo: royalcourt.se

The Basilica of St. Sernin Photo: royalcourt.se

The history of the Basilica of St. Sernin stretches back 1,500 years. The first church built on the site during the 5th century AD soon proved too small for the large number of pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela, and the current building was erected in the early 11th century. The church was named after Saint Saturnin, whose relics are still held here. Saturnius was the first Bishop of Toulouse up until his death in 257 AD.

The church of St. Sernin had the status of an ordinary church until 1778, when it was declared a basilica. A basilica is the name given to certain church buildings with a special status within the Catholic church. Other examples include St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the Sacré-Cœur in Paris. 

Meeting with Mayor Jean-Luc Moudene and lunch at Capitol
12:15 The King and Queen were welcomed to Toulouse by Mayor Jean-Luc Moudene at Capitol, the city hall of Toulouse. The foundations for Capitol were laid back in 1190, but the present façade dates from 1750. At Capitol, The King and Queen, Minister Ylva Johansson and Minister Ibrahim Baylan held a private meeting with the mayor, after which lunch was served in the Salle des Illustres which is richly decorated with 19th century paintings.

The King and Queen arrive at Capitol. Photo: The Swedish Embassy in Paris

The King and Queen arrive at Capitol. Photo: The Swedish Embassy in Paris

Capitol, where lunch was served. The foundations for Capitol were laid back in 1190, but the present façade dates from 1750. Photo: royalcourt.se

Capitol, where lunch was served. The foundations for Capitol were laid back in 1190, but the present façade dates from 1750. Photo: royalcourt.se

The King and Queen at the Académie des Jeux floraux
11:50 The King and Queen visited the literary society l'Académie des Jeux floraux, which was founded in 1323 by seven troubadours and was granted academy status in 1694 by King Louis XIV. Today, the academy has 40 members and awards an annual literary prize in the form of flowers.

The King and Queen were welcomed by Georges Mailhos, Permanent Secretary of the Academy. The academy is housed in a Renaissance palace, Hôtel Assézat, which was built in 1555. The palace is also home to the Fondation Bemberg, a large collection of 16th century to 20th century art, which was loaned to the City of Toulouse for 99 years by the art collector Georges Bemberg. 

The King and Queen visit Airbus
10:25 The King and Queen arrived at Airbus' final assembly hall, where they were welcomed by Operational Manager Thierry Baril. The visit began with The King and Queen meeting Swedes who work at Airbus. The King and Queen also learnt more about Airbus' operations. Airbus is one of the world's largest aviation companies, with 144,000 employees. Airbus cooperates with many Swedish companies, including SAAB and SKF.

Inside an Airbus 350. Airbus is currently building 44 aircraft each month. Photo: royalcourt.se

Inside an Airbus 350. Airbus is currently building 44 aircraft each month. Photo: royalcourt.se

Thierry Baril spoke about Airbus' environmental work, including how the company is working to reduce fuel consumption. The new A350 aircraftexternal link, opens in new window is made from 50% carbon fibre composite, making the plane lighter and thereby reducing fuel consumption. It also means that the plane is recyclable in a completely new way. The development cost for the new plane has been estimated at almost SEK 100 billion.

Thierry Baril explains about Airbus. Photo: royalcourt.se

Thierry Baril explains about Airbus. Photo: royalcourt.se

The King and Queen arrive in Toulouse
10:15 The King and Queen arrived in Toulouse, where they were welcomed by Minister of State for Commerce Carole Delga.