Salon de l’Agriculture

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Every year, beginning in mid-February, thousands of farmers, wine makers, cheese makers, sausage makers, and an arks’-worth of animals, makes it way to Paris for the annual Salon de l’Agriculture. The salon began in 1870 in a country that was, and still is, justly fond of its agriculture, which is celebrated on tables, in steaming cauldrons, on picnic blankets, in restaurants, and ready-to-slice on cutting boards, all across France.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

The best of France converges on Paris and last year, there were nearly three-quarters of a million visitors, filling up the massive, grand halls of the Porte des Versailles, on the edge of Paris.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

There are exhibitors from twenty-two countries in addition to France, as well as foods from tropical French regions. And four thousand animals are trucked to Paris from the provinces to bring the taste – and smell(!) – of the country, to Paris.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Like many agriculture fairs, there are competitions, too, honoring everything from the liveliest livestock to the best wines in France. But to me, it’s really an astounding place to enjoy the best of France in one hectic visit. However, it’s impossible to see it all in one day unless you have the stamina of one of those massive bulls in the pens, or the men who stir (and stir and stir and stir) the giant pots of cheese and potatoes.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

 

When we first entered the main building, happy to escape the drizzle outside, the windows weren’t steamed up from the humidity of the rain, but from the arôme of the animals and their, um, by-products.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Fortunately the smell doesn’t permeate the food hall where we spent most of our day. My friends Susan Loomis and Kate Hill both came from their homes out in the country to visit the salon, in the city, which sounds odd – but on the other hand, who doesn’t want a trip to Paris?

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And another reason is that there are foodstuffs, not just from across France, but there are entire sections devoted to the overseas regions of France, such as Martinique, Guadeloupe, and La Réunion. And you rarely, if ever, see any of these fruits – even in Paris. I was tempted to swipe some but I’ve caused enough trouble around here, so I enjoyed everything from a distance. But man, I could imagine all the wonderful sorbets and ice creams I could churn up with some of those fruits and berries. I’m thinking my next trip should be to one of those islands.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Susan got stuck in one of those infamous traffic jams surrounding Paris and while we were waiting for her to arrive, Kate and I both had the exact same thought when we passed a booth/bar offering glasses of rhum vieux (old rum) – “Why not?”

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

(Note: When I downloaded the picture of my glass after I got home, couldn’t tell if it was the bar, the glass, or me, that was tilted!)

Since the Salon de l’Agriculture takes place during a school vacation period in France, I was expecting it to be mobbed. Yet it was pleasantly walk-able and people were well-behaved and having a good time; no one was grabbing at the samples they were handing out. (That’s the number-one reason I avoid events with samples of free food, as they seem to bring out the worst in people.) The exposants were super friendly as well, more than happy to hand out samples, explain what they had brought, and if you wanted something, they were delighted to sell you some to take home.

I like when there are tastes, yet if you want more, you can buy a larger portion. That way, you get to truly enjoy the food. (I find those grain of rice-sized samples of anything  impossible to taste, and am happy to spring for a little bit more, and let the producers profit from the event as well.) Midway through the salon, I  wished that I had brought my wheeled trolley, because there was so much stuff I wanted to buy – from jars of dark chestnut honey to massive slabs of Cantal cheese (cut from the wedges, like the one up above), which I had to resist. So I had to get my fill while I was there.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Visitors from the U.S. are often surprised when they aren’t offered samples when shopping in food stores in France. One reason is that it’s hard to lop off a sliver from a round of camembert because who is going to buy a disk of cheese with a piece taken out of it? (Although you probably would, once you tasted that little bite taken from it.) When you see me in person, I can explain some of the other reasons.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

But at the salon, people were begging us to try their foodstuffs. (Who says the French aren’t entrepreneurial?) And folks from other countries, with other customs, were happy to have a chance to show off their wares in Paris as well.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

I should probably say that with 1054 exhibitors, if you can visit them all, you’re a better man than I. Or, if you’re a woman, you’re a better woman than Kate or Susan.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

There was everything, including the famed Bresse chickens, the only chicken in France with a special designation of origin and appellation, sometimes sold with their plumage still attached. Dark, wrinkled, yet highly fragrant vanilla beans from Madagascar were offered in packets. And mountain cheeses that just go by the name “tomme” were stacked everywhere.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

In spite of the large number of people, everyone was  happy to chat and joke around with us, as they encouraged us to try everything. And I always wish I had time to visit the other regions in France more often, to meet the people. Of course, when the vendors heard our American-accented French, they would invariably ask “Vous êtes d’ou?”(“Where are you from?”) And they were always delighted to meet us and happy that we were enjoying what they made.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

With thousands of cheeses and meats surrounding you on all sides, with the smells wafting forth as you walk by each stand or restaurant, you start to get a little discriminating. However, I would say that it was pretty easy to pass on the âne (donkey) sausage – and yes, I’ve had it before, thanks.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Le top du top cheese that I had was a blue called Montblueut. The women who made the cheese led us through a tasting of their blue cheeses and when one of them cut into the ashy round and showed me the creamy interior oozing forth and smeared some on a baguette, I knew one of those babies was coming home with me.

Blue Montbleuet cheese

I knew I’d never see one again, unless I went to visit them in the mountains (or wherever they make their cheeses) so was happy to put the smooshy disk in my backpack to have for the weekend. (Fortunately it survived the smooshy-crowded métro car that took us home.)

I don’t to be redundant about all the cheese and meats, so it’s nice to know that Alsace was well represented with salty pretzels and yeasted, almond-studded kugelhofs.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And beer, of course.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

A refreshing break was in order, and we stopped for an excellent little pot of ice cream from Alpérel, which lived up to its name, having been churned up in the alps  of the Haut Savoie. The nice fellow at the counter actually made me taste three different flavors before I decided. He said that that was the right order – taste first, then buy. (In Paris, it’s the other way around!..but I didn’t tell him that.) The jolt of café express was exactly what I needed to keep going. Although I could have used a seat – because of my advanced age – though there were people a lot older who were making it through just fine. So we carried on…

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Well, until we stopped for cannelés from Bordeaux…

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

…and slices of gâteau Basque, one of my favorite desserts, which were brought to us along with tiny cups of anise-flavored Basque liqueur made with sloe berries.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

I loved the crinkly little chiles that were probably fiery-hot.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

We had crêpes made with banana flour and cane sugar.

I saw colorful (alcohol-enriched) elixirs called “punch,” and vinegars made from bananas and sugar cane. And there were bottles of dark chocolate liqueur.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Finally, we decided that it was time to sit a spell and have something more substantial rather than just grazing around, like the cows downstairs. Many of the various regions of France set up restaurants, serving their regional specialties. The Bistrot Parisien was offering up that beloved, classic Parisien dish….

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

..les burgers.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

In purple, of course.

I passed, but was happy to see just next to the Bistrot Parisien, a team of multigenerational bakers working bread ovens, under the Couou? Tu as pris le pain sign (“Hello? Did you get bread?”), and is part of an initiative started by French bakers to get more French people to eat bread, to curb the supposed decline in bread consumption.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

I don’t know about that. I suppose in other parts of the country, where there are fewer bakeries, that is likely the case. But there are five bakeries within a one block radius of where I live and each one has a line out the door from the moment it opens – even the two bakeries that aren’t very good. (I always want to ask the people who get their bread at those not-great bakeries why they prefer it to the very good bread made at the others.) The other day a man in front of me at the (good) bakery asked for his baguette bien cuite, or “well cooked,” which is how I like mine, too. I asked for one right after he did and he turned and pronounced, “Je deteste la baguette blanche!” (“I hate white baguettes!”)

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

For those who think French people don’t work hard, and long hours (and retire early), you’re obviously not looking at their food industry. While many of their contemporaries are likely on vacation somewhere warm and sunny, these young and old fellows were doing what they do best – making bread. The equipe (team) was a little beehive of activity, pulling baguettes out of the oven (which you could hear crackle as they cool – I love that noise), folding batons of chocolate into pastry for pains au chocolate, and rolling up buttery dough into croissants. I wanted to jump in and join them.

Look. I like burgers. And I like Paris. (And I’m starting to not mind all the purple here.) But I was much happier to see the stacks of beautiful, simple sandwiches these fellows were putting out, stuffed with cheese and jambon de Paris, on the freshest, tastiest bread you can image. I don’t need anyone coucou-ing me to come and get it, thankyouverymuch.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Still, I guess the lure of le sandwich américain was too great for a few. *Le sigh.*

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

We couldn’t find a place to sit as all the restaurants were jam-packed, so we kept moving. As we continued to walk, I saw these gâteaux made with peau de lait, or milk skin. Which kind of resembled les pancakes.

Salon d'agriculture Paris_-54

Traditional Hungarian specialty Kürtőskalács resembled nothing I’d ever seen before.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

When I asked the woman handing out tile-like samples if I could take a picture, she looked at me, surprised, and said “Why?” Perhaps because they are so common, the idea of taking a picture as a souvenir is unthinkable? Either that, or she doesn’t have a blog.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

I did like the toaster that they rigged up to make them, with spinning rolling pins they wrapped to dough around, to bake the pastries.  But I was pulled away by the wall of hams at the next stand.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And these are not just any hams. These are noir de Bigorre, a breed of jet-black pigs that make the best ham you can imagine. (They carry it in Paris at Terroirs d’Avenir.) And they were kind enough not to put these hams in the same area where the pigs are running around, which they do with some of the other charcuterie/animals.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Even though (I thought) we had reached our capacity for charcuterie, it was hard to pass up the marvelous hams from Portugal, which you don’t see often outside of their country, since they don’t get the press of their Spanish or French counterparts.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

One was particularly pretty, a mosaic of meat and massive chunks of pork fat.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

I’d never had smoked lamb neck (above), and, well,  there was no time like the present to try it. (It was great.)

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

I was also taken by the Portuguese cheeses, many of which are unknown outside of their country.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And if this queijo de ovelha, made from sheep’s milk, in any indication, I’d love to change that.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And there were the Swiss, scraping up ruffles of Tête de moine, a squat cheese which is said to resemble a monk’s head. I’ve heard a few stories about how it got its name and my favorite is that, at the time, people weren’t enamored of paying taxes levied by the monks, and showed their displeasure by grinding down the têtes of the monks.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And it wouldn’t be Switzerland without gooey fondue! I like how focused she is, creating each taste with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

On the way out of the food hall, we swung by the nougat de Montélimar stand

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

I love nougat, perhaps more than anything. Except after this salon, rhum vieux. Although nougat will always be a close second.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

I thought how great this Salon would be for visitors to France because you can taste the best of the entire country in one giant hall. (Susan said that folks should plan a trip to France just around it.) And we had a hard time leaving. Not because we wanted to stay and continue tasting: We spent nearly 20 minutes trying to find the exit. And we weren’t the only ones; nearly everyone else was looking for it as well, walking around in circles, walking into each other, trying to find the sortie.

A lack of exit signs notwithstanding, plus a few garbage cans here and there that would have been great for tossing the cheese rinds into, (and working escalators), it’s a pretty sensational event and one that even the President of France attends.  And even though it doesn’t always work in their favor, it’s politically imperative to make an appearance for candidates, who work their magic (well, some…) with the crowds, and their photo-ops with all the cows, goats, and cheeses to show they are really a man or woman of “the people.”

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

In the end, we never had the chance to have a full plat. But having had our fill of everything, it may have been for the best as I don’t know if we had the fortitude to face a steaming platter of Tartiflette, the tummy-stuffing dish of sliced potatoes with cheese gratinéed over the top.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Yet it was nice to see fresh French bread celebrated…

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And although not everyone shares my love of Sauternes or Barsac, I could have spent the day tasting these syrupy, gorgeous wines…

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

…which are made from grapes left to rot on the vine, where the funky noble rot  gives them their exquisite flavor. And some – like Château d’Yquem – are considered the finest, rarest wines in the world. I couldn’t find their stand handing out free samples, but there were plenty of others.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

But, pas de tout! – you don’t need to be a snob to enjoy French wine.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And because I couldn’t resist, here are a few parting shots…including a low-carb potato sandwich on a baguette…

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

…and one with foie gras poking out the sides, c’était super!….

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

…which came with a free glass of wine. Because everyone knows that you can’t eat foie gras without drinking wine.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And there were lobes of foie gras to take home.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Well, at least back home in France.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

The salon is a good place meet up with a friend for a glass of Alsatian wine, served in traditional Alsatian wine glasses.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Lunch is served all day long. And if you have more fortitude than we did, you can squeeze into the full restaurants with everyone else.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

With am emphasis on the word is “full” because “hearty” doesn’t even begin to describe the food.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

The lightest thing I saw was this meaty salad. The heaviest dish was the result of the men stirring  big pots of aligote, a mélange of potatoes and cheese, often with a little extra crème fraîche added to enrich the whole thing (as if it needs it!), then stirred, pulled, and stretched dramatically, until it becomes glossy and smooth.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

With the last bit of energy left in us, (and probably you, too! sorry about the length of this post…) we went to go check out the animals before leaving. In case you’re looking for a bell, you can pick one up here. But I felt like they should sell these at the entrance, instead of the exit, because we kept getting separated from each other in the massive halls and it would have been a good way to keep us from getting separated.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Sweet little goats looked like they were enjoying their trip to Paris.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Little black piglets snorted around their hay-lined pens.

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

There was a bit of porigami.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

And as we wound up the day, I felt like I just wanted to curl up with one of the little piggies and sleep it off, too.

Paris Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris

Which I did when I got home.

 

__________________________________

Notes: The Salon de l’Agriculture takes place during the end of February each year in Paris, at the Porte des Versailles. It’s a great way to see and taste a lot of different foods from France and elsewhere. As mentioned, it may be worth planning a trip to Paris just to visit! Because of its popularity, I suggest avoiding weekends and attend the salon during the weekdays. Vendors offer tastes and many items are available for purchase. If you plan to purchase, I recommend bringing a large, comfortable bag to hold items. A small bottle of water is a good idea and next time I go, I’m packing a little bag to hold cheese rinds and other cast-offs as I didn’t see many garbage cans. (In fact, I only saw one.)

Wines are available to taste (in tasting portions) and many winemakers sell wine by the glass. All are happy to take orders if you wish to buy wine by the case (6 bottles) which they will deliver. (Although it’s questionable whether they will, or can, deliver internationally.)

In addition to the food, there are live farm animals on display, which are popular with families. Tickets can and should be purchased in advance to avoid lines. The salon has an excellent English version of their website.

 

101 comments

  • Great post, I really enjoyed reading it and the delicious pictures.

  • What an event! Donkey sausages, who knew? I like their bread initiative. So much better than our ‘Got Milk?’ campaign here in the States. All that Cheese! Must of been like heaven!!

  • Awwww…what cute goats, little piglets and piggies — not to mention all the wonderful pics and descriptions of French (et al) food..Thanks!

  • I read about this event every year and never seem to manage to adjust my trip to Paris to coincide. Sort of like a county fair on steroids, yes? I love fairs and am determined to make this one year soon. David, the pictures are wonderful! And the length of the post is just right. You cannot gloss over something as extensive as this. I must ask, what is the cheese in the 6th photo? Thank you.

  • The Winter Olympics were good…and fun to watch…but I’ll take the Salon de l’ Agriculture, any day!

  • Wonderful post, such a joy to read through. Bread, cheese, chicken, salami, wine, cannelés! I want them all!

  • Oh my. That all looks like so much fun and tasty. What is happening in the first and 11th photos? The (very) large pans with what look like scrambled eggs. Is that more of the aligote?

  • Food heaven. If be all over that fondue and the cured meats.

  • Wow! This is just my kind of event! Must schedule a trip to Paris to coincide with it!

  • Great post David, will put this on my must do list someday!
    We came across Kurtoskalacs outside of Hrad Krivoklat castle near Prague a few years ago. I had to take a picture too and of course taste one! They were called Trdelnik there. I found a recipe, but of course don’t have the equipment to make them……They remind me of giant canoli shells.
    Thanks again for a wonderful post.

  • Rachel: Those are tartiflettes, which are often made by cooking potatoes with a round of cheese on top. For large portions (or, I should say, to serve a lot of people), they make them in in giant skillet-like pans.

  • What a superb post on an amazing event. How I would love to be able to attend – maybe next year… I love the photographs that accompany your copy – together they really capture the essence of the experience.

    Not sure it’s quite the same, but if you are ever in Scotland during the summer you should definitely go to Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Show – showcasing the best this country has to offer in terms of agriculture and food.

  • Great post. “Je deteste la baguette blanche!” And the piglets! Very entertaining. I was laughing so much I had to read part of it aloud to my husband.

    I attended UC Davis, earning a BS in Community Nutrition in 1981. Living there and fitting in all food/agriculture-related electives possible (my favorite: Apiculture, with a lab…I had my own beehive to take care for the quarter) gave me an appreciation for the people who produce our food and for what happens on the land before the products reach the market or restaurant. Love these sorts of Ag-focused celebrations…this one looks fabulous.

  • Looks like you had fun and have waaay more stamina than I do! The Foire de Paris has a similar setup (without the live animals) April 30-May 11, I see. Last year it was a huge crowd scene, but lots of tasty treats to sample!

  • Nice post to greet me on a Sunday morning. Wish I was there! Now I need to bake!

  • I love the Salon d’Agriculture. David, have you ever gone to the Salon Saveurs Des Plaisirs Gourmands (http://www.salon-saveurs.com/)? It’s a smaller salon and it’s dedicated to small, independent food producers. It’s a food paradise (much like the food hall at the salon d’agriculture) and much more manageable. I went there twice in one week when I first discovered it.

    • I haven’t been to that one but thanks for the tip-off. There is the annual Pari Fermier (which takes place in March of this year) which focuses on small farmers as well. I’m going to go to that one, too.

  • Thank you for all the delicious description and visual delights but what is stuck in my brain?
    “Wall of Hams”

  • I loooove the Salon d’Agriculture (have attended it 5 times) and I think it promotes a healthy understanding for children about where food comes from. Seeing cows and then having an ice cream or petting pigs and then eating ham sandwiches a few minutes later really puts the pieces together.

    p.s. all the trash cans are outside :)

  • Great event…excellent post. The foods look amazing and right up my particular alley!

  • Lovely post-feel like I was there. Thanks for sharing

  • Really enjoyable. Although I do love getting recipes, please don’t stop also posting these food orgies. Since I can’t experience them myself, I really enjoy vicariously pleasure, and your posts are really great- just the right photos and text!

  • Ohhhh, don’t apologize for the length of your post- I want to know more! I can almost smell what you’re describing- I can’t imagine the tastes, though, since I’ve not experienced most of the foods that you describe. Seeing that lovely display of canneles makes me want to dig out my cannele molds and make a batch. You are a lucky lucky man. Thank you for sharing your life of food with me.

  • You truly outdid yourself with those fabulous pics! I wonder how many you had to take to get such beauties. P.S. loved your newly coined “porigami.”

  • You are the best tour guide, Mr Lebovitz~! What a fantastic virtual trip to France~! Makes me want to move there just to eat~!

  • Thank you David for a fantastic post. I feel like I got to attend the Salon d’Agriculture just by looking at your photos and reading your commentary.

  • Yes, those piments are very hot: Habanero (C. chinense) ou jamaican hot, piment lampion, piment antillais, rocotillo, scotch bonnet, piment cabri (from French wikipedia). Evidently there are slight differences between the Habanero, the piment antillais and the scotch bonnet, but they are all fiery hot.

    I suppose the French Bigorre noir must be similar to the equally praised Spanish Patanegra?

    What region was the wine in the red box from? I’ve had surpringly decent box wine in France, and in Italy. While I wouldn’t want to drink chocolate liqueur, I could well imagining you drizzling it over a dessert creation.

    And yes, Portuguese foods and wines are not as well known as they should be. Shhh…

  • Thank you so much for this romp through the Salon. I have been three times when visiting Paris and just love it. A great way to feel as if you are visiting all parts of France and on the final day the celebration of French regions is definitely worth seeing – and many of the vendors sell thinks at half price that day. Will be in Paris again soon so can’t wait.

  • My fiancé, a fierce lover of almonds and nougat, has decided, after reading this, that we are to look for the dark nougat. Every year I buy a huuuge batch of various torrone around christmas (he has spanish heritage). That usually lasts a month or so.

    Any idea where the dark nougat can be found? I don’t make nougat myself except in very small batches, because I suck at stuff that requires heating sugar to a precise temperature.

  • Nice piece, lots of detail and good images, unlike many blogs.

  • Fantastic post! I didn’t want it to end!! And what fun links to other sites. (I’ve spent about an hour totally enjoying myself as I read through this post and others that you reference). I am DEFINITELY going to keep this event in mind when I plan a trip to Paris. Please, please report on your adventure to Pari Fermier!! Again, just a joy to read your post! A total joy…..

  • Thanks for this very informative (not to mention tempting) post. Your hints are so welcome in navigating such a large expo. This is on my short-term bucket list for the next couple of years.

  • What can I say David, we just got back to Toronto yesterday after our planned trip to Paris this year which included the fair. It was lucky I brought my weigh scale with me because unlike some women who load up on fashion I brought back as much of the fair as I could. The samples were amazing but I must give special mention to the wine makers from Burgundy (really is it only 11am I thought it was nap time). My husband brought back some amazing jam and honey from Corsica and of course foie gras. Perhaps next year I will just bring an empty suitcase!

  • Thank you, David, for the wonderful, colorful, taste-full tour! Your photos are splendid, but it is your narrative (and opinions) that gives us so much pleasure.

    I have found recipes for the gâteau Basque and the tartiflettes.

  • What a great post. I wish I had known about this when we were living there, although from the looks of the crowd in one of the pictures, I might have been put off. You really need a “grazer” to accompany you (which my husband is not).

    Beautiful pictures and description, David. My favorite non-food item was the origami pig! That must have taken one heckuva big piece of paper to make him.

  • PS. The gateau Basque recipe I found called for brandied cherries in the filling. What was in the one you photographed? B

  • Kürtőskalács is even better when they use charcoal grill to make it – course outside- and a part of the furniture of every hungarian food-drink festival or holiday market.
    Must be eaten only “grill fresh”.

  • Mon dieu, David – that’s one of the longest blog posts I’ve ever read, but I’m positively drooling! I’m sorry to have missed this – it sounds amazing. I might just have to make the two-day drive down next year. I was at a similar (but much smaller) fête last year in Pont L’Évêque which was fantastic. I’m so missing French cheese. I went in search of a Mont d’Or at the weekend as I know they’re nearly out of season but there were none to be had. I had to settle for some creamy blue instead. And that Noir Bigorre sounds interesting – is it as good as Ibérico? Thanks for the huge and interesting post!

  • WOW! Wonderful post David–thank you for all your efforts and sacrificing yourself to bring us these glorious photographs and mouthwatering food.

  • Like the UC-Davis commentator, I’m from an Aggie school: Utah State. I have a Farm Literature book just out, and I’m thinking a trip to the Salon 2015 could be a justifiable business expense! Love, love, love this post. So much better than the state fair.

  • Vive la France!

  • Hi, David! I immediately thought of what the Kurtoskalacs look like: crawfish holes! I live in South Louisiana where such things are commonplace. I loved the long post, and if you get a tour up for this (with you leading it, naturally), I’ll be the first to sign up. Love your blog. Thanks!

  • I love this post with its sampling of gastronomic delights from all over France and beyond!

  • Any idea where nougat noire can be found for purchase?
    My fiancé loves everything nougatey plus any wide array of nuts. An endless array of turron etc., passes through the house.

    • I don’t know of a source where it’s available online that ships internationally but you could check some of my tips for finding things online. I’ve seen some like this one on Amazon, but I’ve not had that brand. La Tienda is a good source for Spanish nougat (turron) from Spain, as is Formaggio Kitchen and iGourmet.

      • Unfortunately, finding food items on amazon isn’t the same as shipping being available.

        I checked your resource page, but despite searches dark torrone escapes me. I can find all other varieties, but the dark one remains elusive.

  • I really enjoyed today’s post! Un grand merci!

  • “sorry about the length of this post…”

    Are you mad?? This is one of your best posts ever! This exhibition makes Ferry Plaza look like a Safeway. Thanks so much for sharing – I’m going to start sleuthing for the 2015 exhibition right now!

  • One thing further: versions of the ancient pastry, Kürtőskalács, are made all over northern and eastern Europe – Poland, Sweden, the Czech Republic/Slovakia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Austria. Hard to find in the US, though the Austrian version, Baumkuchen, is made routinely in a north side bakery in Chicago, the Lutz Cafe & Pastry Shop, which has been in my old ‘hood (called North Center) for decades. As a Swedish-American, it’s good to know that while the Swedish grocery stores in Chicago are nearly extinct, one can still buy a version of a Spettekaka (“spit cake”) to bust out on the Julbord.

  • There are so many marvellous annual events in Paris that it’s hard to get to them all (especially from Australia). I would love to go to the Salon de l’agriculture, but this year am planning a trip to coincide with the Salon de chocolat.It will be my first cool weather trip to Paris (well, expected cool weather). Perhaps for the next one I can try the Salon de l’agriculture? There looks to be endless deliciousness.

  • I always thought heaven would be something like my favorite mountain hike, or a giant library….but I’ve been proven wrong. Heaven will be like the Salon de L’Agriculture. At the very least, it will be full of angels stirring giant cauldrons of that potato-cheese concoction.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Yum! Having just spent a month in Paris (Dec/Jan.), my mouth is watering! I can almost smell the tartiflette cooking! So jealous, but certainly has given me ideas for my next visit to France! Thanks!

  • I often want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog, but this is the first time I actually am writing. This report on the Salon de l’Agriculture is beautiful, fun and soooo tasty; my mouth is watering. Merci beaucoup from a San Francisco Francophile.

  • Greetings from Indonesia

    I have just followed your blog & really like it! Much!
    And if I’m to visit Paris, your blog will be my bible to guide my tastebuds

    Jimmy

  • If you want good tartiflette, go to Pain, Vin, Fromage. http://www.painvinfromage.com/fr/index.htm

    But bring one of those shopping wheelies along to cart your stomach home in.

    • Interestingly, there was a stand selling those at the Agriculture Fair. I would strongly consider bringing mine next time, although I don’t know if I could have hefted it up & down the métro stairs afterward.

  • NEVER apologise for the length of your posts. This one was superb !! And was that Bresse chicken REALLY 52 Euros ? Gulp !!

  • Just returned from a restaurant/food show in Toronto. Lots of pre-packaged, pre-baked, mostly unpleasant “foodstuffs”
    Wish I had been to this in Paris instead.
    Sigh.

  • Oh David, thank you for taking us along on another fantastic vicarious adventure. Wow.

    one question: is there a recipe for gateau basque online that you could recommend? It looks absolutely divine. . .but you know how it is to try to find a recipe for something you’ve never tasted, right? I looked at 3 or 4 recipes for gateau basque and they were so wildly different from each other, I wouldn’t know which direction to head. Do you have a recommendation?

    • It’s a great dessert and I do have a gâteau Basque recipe in my book, Ready for Dessert because I like it so much. I like the one with cherries in it, which is in the book, and there is also a somewhat unconventional variation in there, too. (The one shown here was made with pastry cream, which is also traditional.)

  • Epic post, literally, haha! Thank you…Shock and awe over the price of the Bresse chickens, wow, but good to know they, and their farmers, are highly valued.

    How you made it through all that without requiring a shipping truck to cart it all home, I can not imagine.

  • Thanks for the post, David. I go every year to the Salon de l’Agriculture and you captured quite nicely the atmosphere of Hall 7.2! I went during the week, but there was a hugh crowd anyway at the Régions de France hall. I always take a big backpack with me (no trolley with all the visitors!) which was filled to the brim this time with Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage (my favourite bleu cheese), Tome des Bauges and Beaufort, both from the Savoie region. And saucisse sèche aux figues from Aveyron. Miam!
    Do you know if there is an equivalent in the US? I’d love to go and stand in awe in front of all these huge John Deere tractors and harvesters. ;)

    • Yes, many states in the U.S. (actually, perhaps all of them) have state fairs and expositions. California has one, as does New York. I can’t guarantee you’ll find Portuguese ham, Sauternes and foie gras, but they usually feature livestock and other agricultural stuff. In many places there are country fairs in association with the local 4-H club or cooperative extension.

  • Aw! I wish I knew about these sort of events _before_ they happen, I would have come up to Paris to see this! Do you have a list of annual events like this somewhere? It’s hard to see what goes on in Paris when you don’t live in Paris…

    • The city of Paris has a great website (in English, as well) – but I couldn’t find anywhere where they listed food and wine salons, of which there are many. Some are listed on Evous.fr & Sortiraparis.com & foiredeparis.com. But you might want to Google words like foire (fair), dégustation (tasting), and salon/exposition and the year, if you plan a visit, and they will come up. There are a lot of wine fairs in the fall.

  • Semplicemente meraviglioso!!
    Thank you David!

  • David, the glass of booze isn’t tilted, it’s paralax error due to non-parallel “film” plane and subject. Fixable in pShop. Email and ask, happens all the time when in these situations and the remedy is useful if you don’t already have it. Cheers on the delish posting, seems like the smaller salon might be a nice entree or training for the Feb. event.

  • I went back a 3rd time yesterday and there’s always more to see or things I didn’t notice the other times. It’s my all-time fav event in Paris. Even better than the chocolate salon. The Saveurs salon was another pre-christmas hustle with too much foie gras from distributers and not enough buying direct from producteurs in my opinion. I love the homie unpredentious ambience at the Agri Salon. And so many families and kids. New York never had anything like this!

    • Wow, you have quite the stamina! I considered going back, but figured that I did what I could. There’s always next year! The Salon du Chocolat is pretty crazy and I remember going when it was a little building on the quai next to the Seine. When I lived in NY, we used to go to the state fair in Syracuse which was fun. There were exhibitions of people who did sculptures in butter – which were my favorite!

  • I savoured this post though it was not near long enough. What can I say? I am one hungry gal. :-)

    A website that has a feature focusing on the culinary haps in Paris is: http://parisbymouth.com/paris-food-and-wine-events/

  • Hi David

    First time I comment on your blog but I couldn’t miss this post, the salon de l’agriculture is the best event in Paris ! I’m french (and parisian) and I love how you describe your French life, parisians, and all your advices about restaurants. And you make me laugh. I whish I had the idea of the “porigami” joke.

    So thanks a lot !

  • Dear David, NEVER apologize for your posts! They are always wonderful and this one is especially so. Thank you for taking the time to share. XO

  • ooooh la f*cking la!!!!! GREAT post; I am now salivating.

  • I admit to a large dose of sticker shock. Wow, €15 for a burger & fries and €50 for what looks like 100 grams of foie gras. Think I’ll save my trip to Paris for the distant future when my skinny Canadian dollar has regained some value. Meanwhile, it’s back to my Kraft cheese sandwich.

  • Food Porn – the best way to start Mondays!

    And now I need to plan a trip to Paris just to go to this salon.

  • Looks like a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. And did not know the French were not into the idea of sampling food especially cheese. With so many types of cheese how can you be sure what you want? And I understand not wanting to blemish the wheel of cheese for sale…..but do people really buy entire wheels of cheese for themselves?! Haha.

  • Salon d’Agriculture was wonderful! Merci!!!

  • Wonderful, both the writing and the pictures, and you. You never need apologize for the length of your posts. Thanks for sharing.

  • Oh my goodness, it’s like the state fair but with amazing cheese and meat instead of deep fried Twinkies! Loved this post!

  • All the food looks great and those pictures are fantastic. I absolutely love cold cut meats and cheese.

  • wow!!!!!
    loved this!!!!!!
    actually the agricultural side of France is my favorite part.
    that Nougat–OH. MY. GOD.
    (it’s in my fave top 2, too). i’ve never seen it that thick/tall!

    what exactly is the Gateau Basque?

    thanks!!!!!!

  • This is such a super post. I sent the link to about a dozen people. Many thanks.

  • It was such a treat to read this post. It amazes me how narrow the variety is at even the “best” gourmet stores in comparison. You’re a trooper to take so many those photos and guide us through the expo hall – thank you!

  • Thank you for posting about my favorite event of the year (I’ve been every year since I moved here in 2006). I go mostly to see the animals and clearly don’t spend near enough time in the food section. You’ve made it so enticing that I may need 2 days next year! It’s an exhausting event but always provides lots of smiles and happiness for everyone who attends. Just love it!

  • This really reminds me of the artisan fair they hold in Milan every year… a lot of products are the same too (the Hungarian whatevers and that amazing Portuguese sheep milk cheese, that we buy every year – so good!).

  • Your best post ever!!

  • LOVED this post! My husband and I are dreaming of our next trip to Paris once our daughter gets a bit older and although we love Paris at Christmas, this may have convinced me to go at the end of February!

  • Susan and I were revisiting our Salon Adventure yesterday and you left out one thing- reading your post did NOT make my feet hurt. Wow, what fun and good tastes and an amazing representation of the diversity of Franc’e gastronomic regions. I can only second that- if you are a foodie and love French food- don’t miss this next year! a la prochaine …dans le campagne!

  • Love your post! We also are great fans of the SIA: our 2 year old daughter loves the animals (she got to pet a cow with the animal’s owner: totally made her day…) and I suspect I enjoyed the same foie gras sandwich from M. du Quercy :)
    Did you know you can apply to be a jury for the Concours Général Agricole as an educated consumer? DH and I were an jury duty for the foies gras 2 weeks ago, that was huge fun :)

  • What a great report.
    Although I’m french and more or less live near the Porte de Versailles, I’ve never been to the Salon de l’Agriculture, which is, now that I read your blog, a shame!

    Thanks for the lovely photos and the description, I’ll try to go newt year! ;)

  • Great post! It has made me hungry…. (wipes drool off keyboard). Do you get free entry to the salon when you show your passport? Years ago, you used to get free entry to many of them if you were “from foreign” – I remember visiting the salon des automobiles, mostly because we could!

    Oh – bleu de Vercors! Until a couple of years ago we went to the Plateau de Vercors every year, and oh, the cheese…….

  • Yum! Every year they organize a traveling show here in major capital cities called the Good Food and Wine Show with lots of producers of food, winemakers, and other producers of alcoholic beverages. Lots and lots of samples, both of alcohol (you can buy a wine glass with the show’s logo on it at the front desk, and quite easily go home tipsy) and food (everything from the artisanal and organic food, to some premium mass produced food). Like the salon most food can be bought on the spot, and you can order wine and other alcohol by the case or half – case (12 or 6 bottles) to be delivered in the next week or so. The previous venue had a bottle shop downstairs where some examples of the alcohol that was on display could be bought, but as they have to shift venues this I’m not sure if that’ll be available.

  • I went with my husband and 8 year-old daughter and we had a blast. We live in Marin County, 10 miles north of SF and were visiting family in Paris. Sooo lucky the salon coincided with our visit; I’ve been interested for years. Agree with David on the utter amazingness of this show.

    As for the fantastic nougat, I realized I’ve waited all my life to have a friendly young man slice off unlimited samples of different flavors before making my purchase. The equestrian events were also great fun, quite different than what we see here in the States. When a man in the dog concourse heard that my dog back home was black, he loaded me up with special shampoos and other products (gratuit), “just for beauty.”

  • It took me several days to read all of this, but it was SO interesting! Thanks you for your blog and the wonderful photographs.

  • This was so much fun, and so interesting! What a fabulous way to spend a day; thank you so much for sharing. I would love to experience this someday, preferably with an extravagant budget and a wheeled cart. Or two.

  • Thank you so much David for taking us on such a delicious tour!
    I have always loved reading your articles and even go through the archives on your website whenever time permits. This one is a gem!
    I hope to be able to visit the Salon next year :)

  • This is superb! We put up a quick round-up, much less detailed, at Modern Farmer:
    http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/french-farm-show-cows-protesters-course-cheese/

    (I think I saw on Twitter that you went a day or two after I did — you were lucky to be spared crowds, my day it was *packed*!)

  • Hi David
    As an artisanal wine producer in France I appreciate your coverage of artisanal produce and people. I loved this post and it prompted me to send you this request. I have written 2 books about our experience growing organic wine in France and I wondered if you would consider reading a sampler of the second that will be published by an English publisher in July to provide a comment for the cover (if you like it). Many thanks for your wonderful blog and for your consideration. best wishes, Caro Feely

  • What a wonderful post! You made me feel like I was there!