Products produced on the farm, lunch, smoke a cigar and the movies are the activities we schedule for a Paris Saturday in February. Throw in some chocolate and port wine spontaneously and the day is set!
The platform is packed at Metro Concorde. We find a standing place in the back of the car and head with other Salon d’Agriculture enthusiasts toward the metro stop Porte de Versailles. Thinking we have left early Saturday (11 a.m.), we find that everyone else thinks the same thing. We are headed to enjoy a fair that opened officially for the first time in 1870 and moved officially to Porte de Versailles in 1925.
When we attend this annual event, we set a goal. This year it is food. Last year, it was the cows. A section on the Salon d’Agriculture Web site is about regional chef recipes. We try to find the food, which is always located in Pavilion 7.1 or 7.2 (first or second floor). Whoops! the crowd! and the floor plan is unclear without specific stand numbers to find these chefs.
Languedoc-Roussillon is a favorite region for us. In the section of the fair “Sud de France” (South of France), the band is playing, the crowds are shuffling, the noise is at high decibels; it’s a family and fun atmosphere. Normally searching out Le Concours Général Agricole (medal winners), we succumb to hunger and head to the stand with the bar stools. On the menu is our preferred fowl, duck, at the Maison Esquines stand. Their menu items include a glass of wine. We order the salad and foie gras with a muscat and the cassoulet with a glass of red. We have post-fair plans, so regional food goodies from Maison Esquines are not going home with us today.
Satisfied we move on to the other parts of France at the fair. Frenchmen who live “outre-mer” (overseas) refer to the hexagon (France) as the métropole. We taste test the rum punch from Ile de la Réunion (Réunion Island) and try a syrup from Tahiti (preparing a future voyage). People are sitting on the floor around the salon eating their sandwiches. Imagine, if they had only known, that for fifty cents more they could have had a seat and a glass of wine!
Still early in the day, we head to the Odéon area to buy tickets for our movie in VO-version originale (original version). To pass the time, we find a seat at the Pub Saint-Germain in the Cour du Commerce Saint André, drink a red port wine and eat our chocolate from Maison Georges Larnicol under heat lamps. We watch as people go into a chocolate shop and restaurant, Un Dimanche à Paris, opposite us in the passage. Every restaurant menu item is made with chocolate.
Finished, we are curious about this chocolate business. It’s hard to avoid a chocolate shop! We begin to discover the shop, watch as ingredients for confections are prepared behind the glass and find out that there is a dégustation between 3 and 5 p.m. We check our watches and “zut, alors!”, it is time to dash across the street for the film! We zoom out with a good reason to return!
Salon d’Agriculture (Web site can be translated into English)
126 Avenue des Corbieres
11700 Douzens France
Douzens (750 inhabitants) near the Aude region, 20 km from Carcassone.
Maison Georges Larnicol
132, boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris
Pub Saint Germain
17 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006 Paris
Un Dimanche à Paris
4-6-8 Cour du Commerce Saint André 75006 Paris