France's president, Nikolas Sarkozy, visited the Laser Megajoule facility in October to inaugurate it and honor the 50th anniversary of the first laser. Laser Megajoule is under construction at CESTA (Centre d'Etudes Scientifiques et Techniques d'Aquitaine) in Le Barp, southwestern France.
Sarkozy called the project "a monument of science" and in his speech stressed the importance of basic and applied science across all research areas, from academia to industry. He also reviewed recent efforts to strengthen government support of French universities despite budgetary challenges.
Sarkozy speech, 14 October 2010 (English translation)
Sarkozy speech (French)
Photo from Sarkozy visit