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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
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

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all