Macron, 39, is hoping to use the weight of history and French grandeur to charm the unpredictable Trump — six weeks after welcoming Russia’s Vladimir Putin at the same Desgrandiose Palace of Versailles.
He hopes to build a relationship with the new occupant of the White House that might enable him to influence US policy or, at the least, help avoid serious strains between the EU and Washington.
There are already tensions over climate change and trade, while Trump was openly critical of the
Talks between the two leaders are expected to focus on joint efforts to combat the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, where American and French troops are in action side-by-side.
The two leaders will dine together at the Jules Verne restaurant up the Eiffel Tower, enjoying stunning views of the French capital along with their wives Melania and Brigitte.
Trump and Macron appear to have little in common, with their views at odds on everything from globalisation to immigration.
Macron was even described as the “anti-Trump” during his run for the French presidency this year.
As well as a huge generational gap — Trump at 71 is almost twice Macron’s age — there is scant evidence of any overlap of interests in their personal lives.
Macron also criticised Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the global Paris climate change agreement last month and used the American’s own slogan against him, saying: “Make our planet great again.”
Macron told regional newspaper Ouest-France on Thursday that Paris and Washington had “an essential point of convergence: fighting terrorism and protecting our vital interests”.
However, he also lamented “a protectionist tendency (which) has resurfaced in the United States”.
“I want to defend free and fair trade,” he added.
But sources in the French presidency insist ties are healthy even after a muscular handshake seen as a battle of wills between the two of them when they first met at a NATO summit in May.
“The relationship is excellent,” said one member of Macron’s team.
Manuel Lafont-Rapnouil, an expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, said Macron had no choice but to try to build ties with the US president.
“Whatever you think, the United States is still the United States and we need them on lots of issues. You can’t just say ‘Trump is there so let’s wait until he’s gone’,” he told AFP. “Even if it is very difficult to handle someone as unpredictable as him, you need to try to salvage what you can.”