Every year, the Salon attracts about 650,000 visitors who are drawn by the promise of meeting regional and international producers and tasting the fruits of their labor.
But the taste testing is only half of the Salon's fun, after noshing on artisinal cheese, meats, wine, and beers, one can wander over to a neighboring Pavillion and hang out with over 4,000 farm animals.
During this week dedicated to all things agricultural, the Paris Exposition center at the Porte de Versailles houses a wide variety of animals including horses, cows, donkies, sheep, pigs, and rabbits.
The giddy Parisian toddler or the tipsy and toddling urbanite can enjoy getting up close and personal with these awesome animals, which is needless to say a rare opportunity in Paris intramuros.
This year, I was particularly smitten with the donkies, but I strongly recommend making the rounds to find your own spirit animal amongst the stys.
Aside from donkies, I took a special interest in locally brewed beers during my visit. I was happy to find two beers brewed in the Ile-de-France region, which Paris calls home, that offered especially tasty amber ales.
The first beer I tasted was La Gâtine, a beer which is made from hops grown in the region and brewed sur place in the Pays Gatinais, located 100 kilometers from Paris. This brasserie brews both a blonde and a pleasing amber ale that dares to embrace a bitter taste that one doesn't usually discover in French beers on tap in Parisian bars. La Gâtine makes a good argument for changing that unfortunate state of affairs.
Even closer still, the Brasserie Chevreuse, is located near Versailles, a mere 20 kilometers from Paris. The team brews their beer in the town of Bonnelles, using organic hops and barley bought from Germany and France.
The brasserie's "Volcelest" line of beers includes a Blonde, Amber, Stout, a Brown Ale, and their Triple beer, fermented three times to reach a level of 8% alcohol. Their Blonde and Triple beers were a bit too sweet for my taste, but the Brown Ale was delicious and I'm disappointed I didn't take home more than one bottle.
If you want to get in on some bottle tasting and barnyard action, get yourself to the Salon tout de suite! This is the last weekend it's on so take advantage before it's too late! If you want to make the most out of your visit, be advised that Pavillion 7 is where you'll find the French products (wine, beer, and food) and Pavillion 1 is where you can go hang out with the animals afterwards.
The Salon de l'Agriculture
Feb. 19-27; 9h-19h
Paris Expo Porte de Versailles
m°Porte de Versailles (line 12)
Want to find out more about artisinal beers from the Ile-de-France?
Check out the site for Les Soirées Maltées, where you can buy tickets for their March 3rd event featuring several local brasseries, including the Brasserie Chevreuse.
Tickets are 12 euro in advance and 16 euro at the door, act fast while they're still available!