Mon, Jun 08, 2009 - Page 7 News List

First family spends date night in Paris

AP AND AFP , PARIS

Ah, Paris. The city of love. And the city of this week’s presidential date night.

US President Barack Obama and first lady, Michelle, dined at a cozy neighborhood bistro just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower.

La Fontaine de Mars dates back to 1908 and specializes in rustic dishes from France’s southwest region of Bordeaux Perigord and the Basque. Foie gras, duck and cassoulet are on the menu, although the White House has not said what the president and first lady chose.

The Obamas shared the restaurant with other diners, and other restaurants on the winding Rue St Dominique were filled. Police, some in riot gear, lined the street. Crowds pressed behind barriers at the end of the street to glimpse the first couple, and about 100 people gathered there burst into applause as the Obamas left the restaurant. Clusters of people at street corners held up cell phones and cameras to snap pictures.

After dinner and a ride along the quai on the Left Bank of the Seine River, the Obamas returned to the US ambassador’s residence, where daughters Sasha and Malia awaited them.

Earlier in the day, Sasha and Malia joined their parents on a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral, where a children’s choir sang and the president lit a candle. They climbed the stairs for a view of the city from the roof of the 12th century Gothic church.

They also visited Paris’ iconic Pompidou Centre modern art gallery yesterday.

Michelle Obama’s spokeswoman got an urgent call on Saturday morning, summoning her to the US embassy ahead of time. An aide told Katie McCormick Lelyveld that Obama’s daughters were ready to leave and she had better hurry.

But instead of finding Malia and Sasha waiting for her, she saw her boyfriend and an engagement ring.

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