- Tuesday Pope Francis sent a telegram to the new President of France, Emmanuel Macron, offering his prayers and wishes that in his new role, he will support the rich moral and spiritual traditions of the country, including that of Christianity.
But with Germany's economy, Europe's largest, outperforming that of France, the traditional Franco-German motor at the heart of the European Union has begun to misfire.
Merkel and Macron met in Berlin in March during the French presidential campaign, but Monday's talks mark their first meeting since his election. France Prime Minister's age supports the generational shift in the region's corridors of power that Macron is preparing.
His appointment was seen as a strategic move by 39-year-old Macron, a former minister in the outgoing Socialist government who is trying to woo modernisers of all stripes to his new centrist party, La Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move, REM).
Merkel said that, from Germany's viewpoint, it would be possible to change European Union treaties, adding: "I would be ready to do this, but first we will work on what we want to reform".
The appointment of Philippe, a trained lawyer and an author of political thrillers, ticks several boxes for France's youngest president, ahead of June's parliamentary elections in France.
Macron is counting on winning votes from centre-right supporters in the legislative elections next month.
Emmanuel Macron's support for the Paris bid is seen as symbolically important, and his decision to meet Tuesday with the visiting International Olympic Committee delegation was one of his first moves since taking office Sunday. At least 24 Socialists are now campaigning for re-election under the banner of Macron's Republic on the Move party.
When Juppe was beaten, Philippe switched his support to Francois Fillon for the French presidency but then quit the campaign when prosecutors started investigating allegations that Fillon's family benefited illegally from cushy taxpayer-funded jobs.
He said he hoped to restore French values and applauded voters for resisting the wave of populism in choosing him over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
"The right has just been annexed, with a prime minister taken from its ranks, from the Republicans", Melenchon said.
Pope Francis has sent new French President Emmanuel Macron his congratulations and a few words of encouragement.
On Sunday, Macron said: "We will need a more efficient Europe, a more democratic Europe, a more political Europe because it's the instrument of our power and our sovereignty, I will work on that".
When Britain leaves the bloc in 2019, France will be the EU's only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Merkel, in power for a decade, agreed the two core European powers wanted to give "a new push" to their cooperation and "new momentum" to the Franco-German axis.
Germany is keen to continue the Franco-German diplomatic drive to keep a lid on the situation in Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists are battling the government.