Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Tropical Adventure at the Foire de Paris

By Tom Reeves

This year, the Foire de Paris featured 3,500 exhibitors and trade names from fifty nations. More than 575 000 visitors attended over a period of twelve days.

The annual fair was so vast and covered so many themes that I decided to limit my visit to a single area – the Terre des Tropiques. Even then, it required visits on two different mornings and another in the evening to see everything that I wanted to see.

I was fortunate to arrive on Wednesday morning, the day when Miss Martinique was presiding at the Martinique Tourism stand. She graciously posed for a picture. Martinique is a French department in the Caribbean.

Miss Martinique
© Discover Paris!

I stopped by a stand where Denis Duvigneau of Patawa Production in French Guiana was selling CD compilations of music from his country. French Guiana is a French department located just above the equator on the North Atlantic side of South America. Their music can be soft and sweet like a tropical breeze or rock hard with pulse-pounding rhythms.

Denis Duvigneau of Patawa Production
© Discover Paris!

I had lunch at a food stand that specialized in Haitian cuisine. Three young women who worked at the stand that day, Kerenne, Jemuma, and Iné, posed for a picture. Follow this link to read about the great lunch that I had!

Kerenne, Jemuma, and Iné
© Discover Paris!

Following lunch, I stopped by a stand where a woman named Aurelia poured me a coconut-milk punch. It was a powerful drink! Aurelia hails from French Guiana and lives in Paris.

© Discover Paris!

The next day I returned, determined to explore the Terre des Tropiques more thoroughly. I met Cécilia from New Caledonia who was working at her country’s agricultural stand. New Caledonia is a French collectivity located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. I purchased a half-kilo of Café de la Saoul, a coffee that is grown and roasted there.

Cécilia at the New Caledonia agricultural stand
© Discover Paris!

At another stand I met Fabrice, assistant director, and Lucien, DJ, of the Outremer Radio Web. Both of them are from Guadeloupe and live in Paris. They took me over to another stand to meet Ruddy (top photo) who is director of the station. Ruddy hails from the city of Saint-Laurent du Maroni in French Guiana.

Ruddy (top), Fabrice, and Lucien (bottom)
© Discover Paris!

It was time for lunch, so I went over to Envies Créoles, a restaurant that serves food from La Réunion, a French department located in the Indian Ocean, just east of Madagascar. There, Nathalie showed me the types of dishes that she was serving that day. Before I sat down to a tasty meal, she took me over to the bar to meet her husband, Olivier, who hails from La Réunion. Both of them run the restaurant.

Nathalie (left) and Olivier (right)
© Discover Paris!

After lunch it was time for dessert, so I purchased a cup of coconut milk sorbet from Grégory of La Grillade Piquante Créole who came all the way from Guadeloupe to sell his delicious sorbets, made on the premises!

© Discover Paris!

The following day I returned in the evening to hear a great concert given by top stars of the French Caribbean. The concert was held outdoors in front of an audience of 6,000.

Top singers of the French Caribbean
© Discover Paris!

Of all the stars that performed that evening, my favorite was the VBJ Soul Men, who sang a knockout version of "I’m a Soul Man." Powerful stuff!

VBJ Soul Men
© Discover Paris!

The Foire de Paris was a great success! I look forward to returning next year.

Tom Reeves is the co-founder and president of Discover Paris!


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