Skiing chair for disabled people among 101 examples of French innovation at Macron exhibit

David Chazan
A view of the Elysee Palace where President Macron will host the show aimed at boosting the reputation of French business - AFP
A view of the Elysee Palace where President Macron will host the show aimed at boosting the reputation of French business - AFP

A skiing chair for disabled people, a smart shower and a recyclable pressure cooker will be among 101 French products exhibited at the Elysée Palace this month as Emmanuel Macron tries to showcase Gallic innovation.

The reformist, business-friendly president is to turn the opulent 18th century palace, lavishly ornamented with gilt, tapestries and works of art, into an exhibition hall for two days.

Mr Macron, 42, is seeking to convince the public that France has grown more dynamic and creative under his leadership despite widespread transport disruption caused by its longest strike in half a century over his pension reforms.

Other examples of innovation in the “Made in France” exhibition on January 18 and 19 will include a 3D printer billed as the fastest in the world, “espadrilles”, or canvas beach shoes, woven with plastic recycled from the sea, and a natural gas-fuelled bus.

An offshore wind turbine was judged worthy of inclusion but eventually rejected on the grounds that it was too big for the palace grounds.

A committee chose the exhibits from some 1,750 products submitted by more than 1,500 companies based in different parts of France.

Perhaps the most surprising committee member is Arnaud Montebourg, a hard-Left former economy minister whose sacking in 2014 paved the way for Mr Macron’s political rise. François Hollande, the former Socialist president, replaced Mr Montebourg with the centrist Mr Macron, a former Rothschild banker who was then a relative unknown.

Mr Montebourg published a book in 2013, La Bataille du Made in France (The Battle of Made in France), setting out his ambition to reverse France’s industrial decline. It earned him the sobriquet, “Monsieur Made in France”, which is why Mr Macron thought he should be included in the selection committee, despite his opposition to the president’s economic reforms.

The exhibition will occupy much of the presidential palace, except for Mr Macron’s office, those of his staffers, and the “Madame” wing where he lives with his wife Brigitte.

There will be no admission charge and up to 10,000 visitors are expected. They will have to register and book online.