The procession of the Head of State climbed to the Fort of Santa Cruz on the heights of Oran (west), discovering a view overlooking the bay of the second city of Algeria, bathed by the Mediterranean.

The adjoining chapel, a very popular place of pilgrimage during French colonization (1830-1962), remains a place of meditation and walk for Algerians.

He then joined the mini-shop of the Disco Maghreb label, emblematic of raï, a very popular musical trend in the 80s, brought up to date by the latest track by DJ Snake.

In shirt sleeves and a glass of tea in hand, he chatted with the label’s boss, Boualem Benhaoua, 68, who told him that “new talents would soon be recorded in a seaside studio”. Mr. Macron smiled as he observed the title of a K7: “unhappy always”.

On leaving, he was delighted that Oran and Disco Maghreb are “still the epicenter of raï, of popular culture, of immense artists”, before treating himself to an impromptu walkabout, hailed at the cry of “Macron, Macron”.

The president, who arrived Friday evening in this city renowned for its openness, had dinner with the writer Kamel Daoud and other Oran personalities.

– “Enthusiasm” –

Before leaving Algiers, he had met young entrepreneurs and associations who questioned him about visa problems, the decline of French in Algeria and the memorial dispute between the two countries.

After months of diplomatic crisis, linked to this still painful past, the French and Algerian presidents Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced from the first day of Mr. Macron’s visit on Thursday a new dynamic in the bilateral relationship.

They will seal it with the solemn signing of a joint declaration for a “renewed, concrete and ambitious partnership”, a step added at the last minute to President Macron’s program.

With Algeria, it’s “a story that has never been simple. But a story of respect, friendship and, dare I say it, love”, launched Mr. Macron on Friday, describing a partnership developed “in the enthusiasm of the moment”, during multiple interviews with Mr. Tebboune and his ministers.

It will be “a new partnership for and by youth”, anticipated the French president, already announcing the acceptance of 8,000 more Algerian students this year in France, who will join an annual contingent of 30,000 youth.

In addition to the memory file around French colonization, the issue of visas poisoned the bilateral relationship when Paris decided in the fall of 2021 to halve the number granted in Algeria, deemed not quick enough to readmit its nationals expelled from France.

– “Wounded memories” –

It will be a question of fighting against illegal immigration while easing the procedures for “families of dual nationals, artists, sportsmen, entrepreneurs and politicians who nourish the bilateral relationship”.

A mixed commission of French and Algerian historians will also be created to “look” the entire period of colonization in the face, “without taboos”.

In Algiers, the visit of the French president was not unanimous, many Algerians waiting for a formal apology from Mr. Macron for colonization and for his remarks in the fall of 2021, doubting the existence of an Algerian nation before the landing of the French army in June 1830.

“History cannot be written with lies (…) one of the biggest lies is to say that Algeria was created by France? We were waiting for this gross untruth to be erased by Macron during this visit,” said Le Soir d’Algérie published on Saturday.