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Paris:- Sunday, 25 February, 1996:- President Jacques Chirac officially opened Paris' Salon International de l'Agriculture at the Porte de Versailles exposition centre this morning. The Salon, which will run daily until Sunday, 3 March, expects to receive more than 600,000 visitors.

In Paris, a large event, is often somehow related to the France of 'villages.' In this case, it is the entire French farming community, and its particular villages and regions, as well as the agro- industry, which is presently camping out at the vast Porte de Versailles Expo centre.

There are several new features for this year's Salon. Ocean products have arrived 'en masse' and everything that grows underwater will be featured for the first time. In its own pavilion, forest products will be exhibited for the first time as well.

The agricultural syndicate - FNSEA - is celebrating its 50th Anniversary during this Salon. In 1946 there were 2.5 million agricultural workers; today there are 750,000 in France, producing five times as much. Part of this progress is due to the research efforts of the National Institute of Agricultural Research, the 'Inra,' which also is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

Although only 10,000 new farmers are replacing the 40,000 that leave the profession annually, France remains the world's leading exporter of agricultural products. To the professionals in France, their market isn't focused within the country, but aimed at the 350 million inhabitants of the European community.

During the Salon, Metropole Paris will be bringing you features and photos direct from the Salon. On account of the technical limitations of the Internet, we are sorry we can not also bring smells and tastes as well - for there will be plenty of both for visitors this week at the Porte de Versailles, temporary farmyard.

Salon details / information :

Salon International de l'Agriculture

Dates: from Sunday, 25 February to Sunday, 3 March 1996. Hours: daily, from 09:00 to 19:00
Entry: Adults 50F, children 6 to 16 - 35F, under 6 - free.
Where: Parc des Expositions de Paris, Porte de Versailles Expo surface: 120,000 square metres
Access: Métro : station Porte de Versailles, Line 12: Porte de la Chapelle / Mairie d'Issy or Station Ballard, Line 8: Crèteil / Ballard. Bus: No 39, from Gare de l'Est; No 49, from Gare du Nord: PC, Porte de Versailles stop
Vehicle: Leave Péripherique - sortie, Porte de Versailles. Parking is available at the Porte de Versailles site, but given the amount of visitors expected, actually getting a place will be difficult. Public transport is highly recommended.

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