A few weeks ago, I toured my family friends around Paris. They were here on a day trip from the UK, and I did my best to give la Ville Lumière a fighting chance in the centuries-old London-Paris rivalry.
For all of the romantic clichés, you can’t expect fall in love with Paris in just one day. (especially when the better part of those 24 hours is spent in crowded museums and tourist traps by the Eiffel Tower or along the Champs-Elysées). Yes, these sites are beautiful and iconic: incontestable must-sees. But there is more – so much more – of Paris that I wish all tourists could enjoy.
It was as though I was introducing my friends to a new boyfriend. Desperate to make a good impression, I finished the tour in the lesser-tracked neighborhood of Montmartre. Sunset over the Sacre-Coeur. Dusk falling over cobblestone. The distant sound of an accordion. La Vie Bohème.
For classic French gardens without the usual crowds, head south to Parc de Sceaux. Designed by the father of the jardin à la française, André Le Notre, Sceaux offers a more peaceful alternative to the grandeur of Versailles. On a sunny day, you can bike or jog or simply take a nap on the grass. Feel free to picnic on the steps of the Château de Sceaux, which was once home to Louis XIV’s finance minister.
To get here from Paris:
Take the RER B (South) direction Massy Palaiseau to Parc de Sceaux
The Salon de l’Agriculture is Paris’ annual extravaganza hosted at the one-and-only Porte de Versailles. It’s something like a cross between Epcot and a petting zoo. You can eat and drink your way around the world in the company of France’s finest – that includes livestock AND politicians. I’ve attended the Salon the past couple of years, and here are a few of the things that I’ve observed:
1. There are nearly as many regional variances of French cows as there are types of cheeses.
2. The Salon de l’Agriculture is THE place to be if you’re an homme politique.
3. Free samples: the ultimate crowd-pleaser.
In one afternoon alone, I sampled heart and kidney, strawberry milk, coconut ice cream, and rhum agricole.
4. Watching life happen in front of your eyes is a pretty beautiful thing.
I watched these chicks hatch from their eggs and take their first steps on this Earth. In the globalized world of agribusiness, it’s so easy to forget where our food comes from. The good thing about the Salon de l’Agriculture is that it connects consumers to the source. Now I know what farm-to-table really means!
5. The world is large, and there is so much left to explore.
The Salon de l’Agriculture exposed me to so many different sights and sounds and flavors and smells. I left with the desire to drink Ti’ Punch on a beach in Guadeloupe. To hunt for white truffles in Tuscany. To visit the region that produces Reblochon (one of my favorite French cheeses).
Food and culture are so intwined. What we eat reflects our values, our way of life. There is nothing I enjoy more than trying whatever each type of cuisine has to offer – both at home and abroad.