I recently had the privilege of attending the Paris Agriculture Salon. This was actually my second year of attending this wonderful conference that happens annually in the City of Light. The grandiose displays of farmers and regional delicacies attract French people from all over the country, as well as international distributors interested in buying and trading goods. You'll see families, businessmen, tourists, and foodies all alike here.
The most visually stunning animals were horses, mostly bred to work on farms. They were strong, muscular, and completely decorated. The salon is usually crowded every moment of every day, lasting one week in late February. The salon's hashtag for this year? #FINE. I don't know if the French have a knack for hashtags yet, but it was definitely FINE!
Many people were elbowing each other just to get a taste of many delicious samples being offered at different stalls... and samples are rare! Nonetheless, in France, it's considered very rude to take more than one sample of something and not buy something from a vendor. Then again, you can always blame it on the fact you're a foreigner ;)
The salon was organized by regions as well as animals. There was even a part of the salon where they awarded wines for the year; sadly, this part of the salon is not open to the public. There is a wine salon that happens in Paris annually as well (I went to find wine and champagne vendors for my wedding) and that is one sensational party... Unfortunately, that salon is towards the end of the year!
Still, there were some wines to try. For Mon Fiancé, the award-winning anything would be the copious amounts of tartiflette, a mixture of potatoes, onions, lardons (bacon bits), and reblochon cheese from the Savoy region of France. If you go to any of the sit-down stalls, the cost of food will double. But getting a medium sized box of tartiflette + 1 beer will feed two for 10 euros.
Mon Fiancé is also a fan of raclette (above) and Mont d'Or, other dishes full of gooey cheeses on top of potatoes and meats. You'll be able to get your hands on other regional delicacies such as foie gras sandwiches and hearty beef bourguignon. During the salon, people randomly break out into dance and song, always something traditional of their region. Others give each other loud salutes. The salon is a splendid opportunity to see French people jolly and enjoying themselves, despite the bleak Parisian weather.
Roaming around the different buildings, Mon Fiancé and I checked out the smaller animals. Above, you can see traditional hunting horns and the dogs that chase after game. Hunting is highly regulated as it's almost illegal to own any type of firearm (except for hunting, in which you need a special license and are restricted to specific guns). There were also dog breeds meant for farm labor, such as sheep herding dogs. They were the cutest.
My favorite part of the salon, besides gawking at the lovely animals, was trying freshly made calissons. These beauties come from Provence and are very expensive. They are little cakes/candies made of almond paste and covered in a sugar frosting... when I tried them at the salon, the samples were freshly made and hot. It was amazing as you usually get calissons that are hard (but still chewy) in texture.
You could even "take a ride" on the tractor if you wanted. Or take pictures next to an Eiffel Tower made completely of vegetables. I preferred to buy more lavender honey instead.
The agriculture salon is now over, but if you're interested in going next year, check back in February and visit this site for more information (in English).
À bientôt, my dear readers!