Paris, France – Dressed in a bright red suit jacket with matching skirt and red heels, First Lady Melania Trump visited Hôpital Necker – Enfants Malades, a sprawling children’s hospital in central Paris, as soon as she arrived with President Donald Trump last week.
Under cool and overcast skies, just 63 degrees by mid-morning, First Lady Trump arrived at the hospital and was greeted at the entrance by Martin Hirsch, the general director of Assistance Publique Hopitaux de Paris who oversees Paris’s 39 public teaching hospitals.
The two walked into the hospital lobby together. Hirsch seemed to be telling her about the hospital as she nodded. The accompanying journalist could not hear if she said anything. The lobby was decorated with brightly colored chairs and a pink, space-themed play area for children.
Melania Trump then shook hands with a group of hospital representatives and local health officials. Those who greeted her included:
— Professor Pierre Carli, who is the head of emergency services in Paris
–Dr. Zagorka Pejin, pediatric surgeon
— Professor Noel Garabedian, president of the medical commission that represents doctors
— Vincent Nicolas Delpech, director of Necker Hospital
Going upstairs, the First Lady visited a few children who are patients at the hospital but the press was not allowed to see these visits. The hallways were lined with hospital staffers hoping to get a glimpse of the First Lady.
Soon, Trump went into a playroom where six young children were gathered around a table playing with plastic building blocks or coloring. Some of the children’s parents were also in the room, and three children were in wheelchairs.
“Hello! Bonjour! How are you?” Trump said as she entered the room. She then spoke to the children in French, one of the five languages she speaks, according to her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham. As more reporters came into the room, Trump switched to English, with an adult in the room jumping in to translate for some of the children.
Sitting in an adult-sized wooden chair at the child-sized table, Trump leafed through a Little Prince coloring book. Hirsch, the general director of public hospitals, leaned in to explain the classic French story. “All of the children want to become the prince,” he said at one point. “Of course,” Trump said with a smile. Later, Hirsch presented her with a small paperback copy of “Le Petit Prince,” apologizing that the book was in French. “I will keep it to practice my French,” she said with a gentle smile.
According to the journalists present, it was often difficult to hear the First Lady’s soft voice over the loud clicking of cameras. Again and and again, she told the children: “Very good… Very good.”
To her left was a young girl with shoulder-length brown hair and an IV in her right hand. “Did you grow up in Paris? It’s beautiful,” Trump said at one point. She also asked the girl about the toy hospital that she was playing with and pointed to the floral design on her shirt.
Trump was also introduced to educators who work with the children. “I always say how important it is to have, you know, teachers in children’s lives. It’s the most important… They see them every day and spend so much time. It’s very important in the child’s life… Sometimes it’s not easy, right? You’re doing a great job,” Trump said.
To Trump’s right was Ysatis Guyomarc’h, a 14 year old in a wheelchair. “You look very good. Very strong…” Trump told the girl. “One day you will be walking and running.”
A little later before leaving, Trump repeatedly thanked the children for meeting with her and told them to “be well.” “Thank you very much for having me,” Trump said. “And stay strong. Thank you very much.”
As the First Lady left the playroom and, soon after, left the hospital, an educator applauded the children and many of the parents and adults in the room joined in the clapping.