Where can one meet a cow in Paris?

The answer is – at the Salon International de L’Agriculture, which happens every year at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles.
When I went there I knew I am going to see some farm and domestic animals, but I did not expect to see it on such a scale. It was huge and well organized. Cows of all sorts, sheep, pigs, goats… and we haven’t even made it to the chickens, horses, dogs, and cats. My urban mind was blown away by the amount of different breeds of cows residing in France and the cherry on the cake was the existence of the cow of the year-Cerise, (pun intended) which was a face of the whole exhibition and made it to a national and international news. I could not help, but put  her portrait in here – she is definitely a beautiful animal!

 
But returning to our muttons… And it was a lot of them, different kinds, cute and properly smelly.
 
Apart from watching the animals lazily chewing cud in their makeshift stables, you could do other things like observe the cows being milked, drink that milk (but not before it was boiled in a fancy machine!), watching cute families of sows and piglets running around in the rings, listen to a presentations and explanations, watching competitions, participate in quizzes, spotting French political celebrities and many other things.
The Salon was huge, apparently had 1050 exhibitors and, besides France, other countries of the world were represented, but we only had a half of the day, so we decided to concentrate on France and some Francophone countries.
 
After leaving the animals, we walked through a pavilion where one can learn about different types of grains, its growing and harvesting methods, look at the big sparkling combine harvester as a central piece, surrounded by ears of wheat (did they stack in every individual wheat stem into the soil? I discreetly tried to pull one out and got my confirmation-yes they did! ) We haven’t stayed there for long, as I was more interested in a final products of  food growing process and was impatient to get to a most exciting part of the exhibition- Gastronomy of Regions of France…
Oh yes! Here  my eyes of a foodie lit up!  Each region was well presented with booths bursting at the seams with their products. Here you can have one more confirmation that enjoyment of the food is a high priority in France.
 
Cheeses, sausages, hams, olive oil, bread, pastry, wine, seafood, cider, calvados… We were going from booth to booth, marveling at all the wonderful food, sampling, buying, taking photos. I was in heaven!  And have learned something too – never buy the first thing to eat you see at the entrance, even if you are starving! Because the further you go, the more interesting choices you will have.
In the next pavilion beside metropolitan France, the there were also countries of the “overseas-France”-like Martinique, Reunion, and Tahiti… This pavilion had fewer kids and was the most vibrant – it may have something to do with the local beers and rums they were serving.  Here an interesting smells prevailed, exotic spices were piled high and local food were served by people in picturesque traditional costumes.
In fact, at every turn  everywhere you could meet some regional dances, bands playing traditional music and even groups of  people singing “a capella”.

And everywhere one could feel that “joie de vivre” presence, which I love so much about this country…

In a few hours our bellies were full to a bursting point and our shopping bag is heavy, and the exhibition for closing for the day, so we had to drag ourselves out…

But it was a half day well spent. And we will be eating that fantastic Corsican cheese for months to come…

 

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