A History Of America's Love-Hate Relationship With France

French President Francois Hollande is making his country's first state visit to the White House in 18 years.
Posted at 2:15 PM, Feb 10, 2014

The last time a U.S. president rolled out the red carpet for his French counterpart was 1996 when Bill Clinton played host to Jacques Chirac. (Via INA

Nearly two decades later, France's current President Francois Hollande is in town for a state visit with President Obama. (Via The White House

The pair penned an op-ed Sunday in The Washington Post describing how their countries' "deepening partnership offers a model for international cooperation."

But it wasn't always that way.

We all remember when "Freedom Fries" appeared on the menus after a skeptical France chose to sit out the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. (Via Flickr / Andre Mouraux, Fox News

The anti-French sentiment ran deep, even making its way into the 2004 presidential campaign, when John Kerry was mocked for knowing how to speak the language. (Via YouTube / University of California Television

But just 10 years later, Kerry's himself — now secretary of state — praised "our oldest ally, the French."  (Via U.S. State Department

The U.S.' relationship with the country that gave us the Statue of Liberty has come a long way since the days of eating Freedom Fries and pouring Bordeaux down the drain. But what changed? 

The Guardian boils it down: "In short, France began looking more like America, and America more like France. France elected a president who liked jogging, wanted to roll back the welfare state and vacationed with the Bushes. America elected a president accused of being a socialist and known to smoke cigarettes."

Under Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, the foreign policies of the two countries grew more in line — earning Sarkozy the nickname "Sarko the American." (Via C-SPAN

The trend continues with Hollande. In August, France emerged as the only major European ally willing to support U.S. strikes on Syria. (Via Aleppo Media Centre

The U.S., in turn, has played a key role to the French military operation in Mali, providing both intel and logistical support. (Via CBS

Still, the renewed U.S.-Franco relationship has not been without its ups and downs. Edward Snowden's NSA leaks, of course, have strained relations between Obama and many of his European counterparts. (Via WikiLeaks

Though ​Politico makes an interesting observation: "It's not a coincidence that despite having much to complain about themselves from the NSA spying revelations, Hollande has said very little to criticize Obama on Edward Snowden's behalf."

According to a 2013 Pew Research survey, 64 percent of French citizens view the U.S. favorably — up 37 percent from 2004.