Will We Always Have Paris?

EMO Paris is fini. It was a good show from most accounts.

EMO Paris is fini. It was a good show from most accounts. Visitors were plentiful and interested. Every six years, when the European machine tool show rolls into Paris, there seems to be an undercurrent of grumbling that is usually expressed by questioning Paris as one of the three venues for the EMO shows. As most of you know, EMO, which is the world's largest machine tool show, is held every two years and rotates among three locations: Hanover, Germany; Milan, Italy; and Paris, France. Rotation goes from Paris to Hanover to Milan to Hanover to Paris and so on. So the show is held in Hanover every four years, Milan and Paris every six years.

So why does Paris seem to have a least favored nation status as far as the EMO show is concerned? Well, some people I spoke with explained that the French tend to shoot themselves in the foot with fairly consistent infrastructure disruptions every time the show hits Paris. This is particularly irritating to visitors who depend on the trains and planes running on schedule. Two show cycles ago, for example, the metro (subway) went on strike. This made getting around Paris proper very difficult. And last time Paris hosted EMO, the air traffic controllers went on strike snarling the airports. Like clockwork, this time the RER (inter-city train system) put on a little strike that made commutes to the EMO fairground stretch from 20 minutes to several hours. We understood the strikers wanted to use EMO as leverage to get their workweek reduced from 37 to 35 hours. The French seem to accept this sort of thing in stride.

This was my first visit to Paris, and frankly, I expected to experience some of the stereotypical rudeness, arrogance and general disdain of Parisians toward foreigners such as myself. I was especially apprehensive because of the strike and my unfamiliarity with alternative transportation options. But, an interesting thing happened on the way to the show. The French were nice. Actually, they were more than nice; they were downright Midwestern hospitable. So much for stereotypes.

During my stay at the EMO show, the old rumors began to circulate that the show won't be held in Paris again. If I'm asked for my opinion, I'd like to come back to Paris. The facility is probably the best show hall I've ever worked, and the city—well, it's Paris. If EMO ever moves from Paris, I hope it will be for more weighty reasons than just transportation inconvenience or national bias.