The Chatou Fair… a history, a place, an ambience
Picturesque and not to be missed, The Foire de Chatou has set up its stalls on the Impressionists’ Island at Chatou since 1970; but its origins date back to the mediaeval Foire aux Salaisons, the Salt Meats Fair, a great Gallic tradition. In 1840 the fair took up fixed residence on the Boulevard Bourdon, near the Place de la Bastille in Paris. At the same time the city’s scrap dealers and junk merchants started their own fair next door, a proximity that linked the future of the two fairs together. In 1869 they were both moved to the Boulevard Richard Lenoir, where they remained for nearly a century, initially taking place once a year, and from 1940 onwards twice-yearly.
The fair was then known as the Foire à la ferraille, aux pains d’épices et aux jambons – the scrap metal, gingerbread and ham fair. Stallholders would bake little gingerbread pigs decorated with their favourite Christian names, a custom reflected in the Foire de Chatou’s little pig logo. In 1970 the Prefect of Paris, the capital’s top administrator, ordered the fair out of the city. But rather than see it die, the SNCAO-GA stepped in with a rescue plan, installing it on Chatou’s Impressionists’ Island. The septembert Edition 2017 fair will be the 95th on its present site.