PARIS DAYS : Animal libbers find themselves on a hiding to nothing

There is a gentle lowing to be heard not half a dozen miles from the centre of Paris this week, and a whiff of the barnyard. The ``biggest farm in France'' has come to town.

It says something about this country that the international agricultural show is held in the Parc des Expositions de Paris, the counterpart to London's Olympia. London has ideal homes; Paris has the farm to end all farms. Closest to the entrance were white Aquitaine cows, each with her domestic name inscribed along with her weight on a board above her pen. There were Camelia, Gloire, Gentiane and Elsa - and Delicate, weighing in at a modest 718kg.

Whole families had brought them: Papa led the beast to the show ring; Mama urged it on with a long wooden stick, and ruddy-complexioned son or daughter held on to the tail. The medallists were curry-combing their exhibits for the cameras; young men with long-handled shovels walked casually behind.

The pigs were fearsome; white and bristly. The sheep, with rare exceptions, large and docile - and dirty. But everyone wanted to delve their hands into the oily wool.

Yet it was not primarily the animals that I had come to see. I was on the lookout for the animal liberationists who had mounted a small demonstration on the opening day.They were said to have a stand, where they showed shocking videos, not just of veal calves chained to their pens, but of Albanians kicking pigs to tenderise them before slaughter, and other objectionable behaviour.

The animal libbers, though, proved elusive. From the main show-ring, where the last class of Aquitaine cows were being inspected, past the honey stalls and the goats, the trail led into a second cavernous hall where shire horses and hunting dogs were in residence, along with saddles and English Barbours and other accoutrements of country life. Through them to market gardening, where the rustic furniture, the beehives and the greenhouses gave way to poultry on one side and rabbits on the other. The screeching from the hen and guinea fowl enclosure made it sound like a torture chamber. But the rabbits, graded by size up to a whopping Harveyesque 9kg, munched quietly away, unperturbed and stroked by all comers. Behind the exhibits was another large enclosure labelled unambiguously: Bureau du vente - animaux.

About 50 people sat watching a film about potato-growing and selection: ``La pomme de terre - c'est sympa!'' was the advertising pitch; their attention was rapt. But there were still no animal liberationists.

They were hardly likely to classify themselves with the snails, but it was worth a look. France's snail-raisers are among the show's most serious visitors, asking erudite questions about how best to feed their escargots, and whether a square snail house was better or worse for fattening them up than letting them roam free across tiles arranged in peaks.

It was at the snail exhibit that an awful truth dawned. The snails in their square houses were crawling around right beside a collection of tins and microwave ovens, and herbs and butter. Alongside the goat enclosures, a mobile lab was making cheese-while-you-watch. Just behind the sheep pens were stalls selling ``cassoulet de mouton - 100 per cent''; behind the cows were case upon case of exquisitely butchered meat, "milk-fed veal'' and calves' livers.

Next to the creperie was the ``bovine artificial insemination centre" advertised in large letters; and the charcuterie vans were everywhere. You didn't need any animal liberationists to point out the link. It was everywhere, for all to see - celebrate even. In one form or other, these animals were for breeding and eating, mainly eating. No beating about the bush, no further questions asked.

By now, there seemed little point in continuing the search for the animal liberationists. They were on to a loser here, no doubt about it. Suddenly, my attention was caught by a bright blue and white stall at the exit, emblazoned with the legend ``je veux te manger''.I had a look. They were selling popcorn.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?