Could Paris Host the World’s Fair Again?
A bid for ExpoFrance 2025 is gathering momentum.
Paris is a bit of a world’s expo veteran. Not only did the very idea of a world’s fair come from the French tradition of the exposition nationale, but the capital welcomed six editions of the event, one of which gave the country what is perhaps its best-known symbol: the Eiffel Tower, built in 1889.
Now a staunch group of supporters have rallied to make it happen again, this time in 2025. So far, more than 4,000 people have signed a petition championing the French bid.
Signatories include major business figures such as the MEDEF vice president Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux and Bouygues CEO Martin Bouygues. According to the ExpoFrance 2025 website, 84 percent of French people surveyed also support the idea.
“The Parisian world’s fairs fashioned Paris,” Jean-Christophe Fromantin, a politician and president of the association ExpoFrance 2025, told La Croix. “At the time, they were responding to anxieties about economy and the industry. If it came together, the world’s fair 2025 could play the same role.”
A similar project was put forward in 2004 by the then–prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, but it was eventually abandoned for lack of funding. Fromantin claims that the dynamic is very different this time. The idea of a bid doesn’t come from the government, but is supported from the ground up.
Perhaps to defeat those who might criticize the kind of costs involved in such an endeavor, the plan of ExpoFrance 2025 is to use exclusively already-existing infrastructure.
ExpoFrance 2025 is also a political move. It will champion the idea of the Grand Paris, an entity meant to encompass both Paris and its suburbs, which is yet to be accepted widely by inhabitants of the French capital—particularly those living within Paris itself.
Many challenges still lie ahead. It is unclear at this stage if France has the financial means to compete with the new economic powers, which are also tempted by the global visibility a world’s fair offers (by way of comparison, according to La Croix, Dubai is planning to spend $6.5 billion on the edition it’ll host in 2020).
Perhaps, more important, Paris is also hoping to welcome the Olympic Games in 2024, and preparing for two bids might prove too much.
Either way, it is still early days. The parliamentarian commission studying the feasibility of a French bid for the world’s fair only started last January. It will present its findings to government next October. If approved, the bid will be logged with the Bureau of International Expositions in 2016, which will vote in 2018.
The next world’s fair will be held in Milan in 2015.