Sunderland has celebrated its 65th anniversary with its twin Saint-Nazaire by laying on the red carpet treatment for visitors from France.
A delegation, led by the Mayor of Saint-Nazaire, David Samzun, enjoyed a tour of the Port of Sunderland and took part in a ceremonial planting of an indoor ornamental fern in the Winter Gardens at the Sunderland Museum.
The port visit allowed dignitaries from both cities to discuss potential business opportunities, especially in renewable energy, and also in digital sectors.
The Leader of Sunderland City Council and chair of the port board, Coun Graeme Miller said: "There are many similarities between Sunderland and Saint-Nazaire - cities by the sea, with economies built on ship-building, advanced manufacturing and increasingly diversifying to develop strong digital expertise.
"Generating economic and educational benefits is key to our engagement with international partners, and as we each continue to develop opportunities for our cities and communities, we have a strong track record on which to build in our partnership with Saint-Nazaire."
The ceremonial planting followed an anniversary celebration earlier this year when the Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Lynda Scanlan, planted an English Oak in French soil.
The Mayors were also joined by pupils representing three of the Sunderland schools involved with their French counterparts in the EU-funded Erasmus project, St Paul's Primary, South Hylton Primary Academy and Kepier Academy.
Coun Scanlan said: "I was both honoured and proud to join the Mayor of Saint-Nazaire in this ceremonial planting during his visit, symbolising the roots and continued growth of the friendship between our two communities.
"Over the last 65 years we have learned much from each other, and forged ever closer cultural, economic and educational ties. The role of our children and young people in our international engagement is key as Sunderland and Saint Nazaire celebrate, and continue to strengthen, our friendship and partnership over the months and years to come."
Saint-Nazaire, David Samzun, said: "We have received such a warm welcome in Sunderland. We are so grateful for that, and for the programme of visits and meetings which has been prepared for us.
"It is my first time in Sunderland, but I am certain that it will not be my last. We have been really struck by the many similarities between Sunderland and Saint-Nazaire
"It has been wonderful to meet some of the people in Sunderland who are involved in partnerships with Saint-Nazaire – children, young people, the Council, college and university colleagues as well as private sector partners.
"There is already such good work underway, but I think all sides have also seen that there are new opportunities we can take forward in the future which will benefit both regions."