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LIVING IN FRANCE

What you need to know about France’s most famous agriculture show

France's most famous agriculture show features livestock, all kinds of seasonal produce and politicians - right in the heart of Paris. Here's what you need to know about the 2022 Salon de l'Agriculture.

What you need to know about France's most famous agriculture show
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, at the Paris agriculture show. Photo: AFP

Every year, French city and countryside clash together in a slightly smelly feast to celebrate what rural France has to offer.

Farmers from all over France pick out their finest cattle and drive all the way into the capital to participate at the Salon d’agriculture (Agriculture fair), which is held in the centre of Paris, at Porte de Versailles.

When is it?

After being curtailed in 2020 and cancelled in 2021, the show is back. This year it runs from Saturday, February 26th to Sunday, March 6th. A vaccine pass is required for entry, and all visitors aged six and over must wear a mask.

If you enjoy president-spotting (see below) Emmanuel Macron’s office has confirmed he will be visiting this year’s show on Saturday, February 26th.

What is it?

In essence, the Agricultural Salon is a rare merging of French city and countryside.

For visitors, it’s an occasion to discover French farming, talk to farmers and see the products and animals up close

For farmers, it’s a rare get-together for a profession that is normally spread wide across the country.

It’s also a way to show off their products to Parisians and politicians, who usually see their finished products in the store and not up close.

Macron has become an experienced cow petter after having attended the Salon years in a row. Photo: AFP

Who is going?

Politicians. As well as the highlight of the farming calendar, the Salon has also become a must-do event for politicians who nurse presidential ambitions.

This year’s event, less than two months before the presidential election, will likely see all the high-profile candidates attend.

Far-right Rassemblement National party leader Marine Le Pen rarely misses the Paris agricultural fair. Photo: AFP

How important is visiting the Salon for a politician?

Pretty important, actually. The Salon has long been the scene of political campaigning, with presidential hopefuls battling over who seems the most at ease petting cows and pigs.

France is a country with vast rural areas that prides itself of its cheese, meat and wine – goods that it can thank its farmers for.

However, farming has become an increasingly tough profession. Not everyone can make it work. There were 460,000 French farms in 2019, compared to 750,000 two decades ago.

Farmers work long hours and many earn salaries that are far below the French minimum wage. Two out of five earn less than €4,320 a year.

READ MORE: ‘Farming doesn’t feed us’: The story of France’s ailing agriculture

Ex-President Jacques Chirac was known and loved for being hands-on with everyone he interacted with on the ground. Cows were no exception. Photo: AFP

French politicians, on the other hand, tend to come from a certain privileged and urbanised background, with most of them educated in the same Paris-based elite universities.

This is the time where these same politicians get to show that they really care about the country’s farmers.

In 2019 Emmanuel Macron made sure to break the official record of a presidential visit at the Salon, spending more than 14 hours inside the fair. The previous record of 12 hours was sat in 2018 – by Macron.

How do I attend?

So if you want to scout high-rank politicians cuddling up to cows – or just want to take advantage of many free cheese samples on offer – the Salon is held at Place de la Porte de Versailles (15th arrondissement) in Paris.

Tickets are €15 (€8 for students) and can be purchased online (here). You will need to show a vaccine pass at the entry along with your ticket and wear a mask while inside. 

 

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Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.

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