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Sailors and Equestrians descend on Paris

Last week Paris celebrated the two great bastions of upper-crust leisure activities: sailing and horseback riding. Though in theory the Salon Nautique and the Salon du Cheval should have attracted similar crowds, the two really couldn’t have been more different. For starters, the people I saw roaming the boat show were newly retired couples and young sailing freaks turned salesmen. By contrast, the Salon du Cheval was filled with families, in particular pony-crazed little girls and their indulgent mummies. Despite the apparent differences in attendees, both shows were filled to the brim with fanatics, geeks, and enthusiasts reveling in their lifes’ passions, and their enthusiasm was totally infectious.

As at any themed convention, you’re bound to discover a few of that theme’s curiosities. Here are some of the interesting things I came across at the two Salons, beginning with the Salon Nautique:

Overgrown boys with remote controlled toy yachts

Men are so easily amused.

All you plus your 7 friends need to live aboard for a week

So there are a couple of things that strike me as odd with this scenario. Supposedly these are all the non-perishable food supplies a group of 8 would need for a week long trip. The spread looks sizable but their are some glaring incongruences. First of all, there are only seven 1.5-liter bottles of water. That wouldn’t be enough for even one day, so we have to assume this is just water for brewing coffee, especially since these eight sailors are going to need as much water as possible if they plan to eat their way through 22 (!) cans of sodium-rich sardines. 

Sardines for every astrological persuasion

Thankfully there shouldn’t be too much confusion as to the ownership of the sardine cans since they are all conveniently labeled by astrological sign.

A whale tail to support your whale tail

I love carved woodworks. I one time went through the hassle of transporting a salad bowl made out of koa wood from Hawaii on three connecting flights back to Paris. That’s how much I love functional art. There is something wrong with this piece though. It might be that a “whale tail” also happens to be a term used to describe a woman’s thong riding up above her jeans.

Cockpit of Dufour 325

My favorite boat (as far as what I could see myself living on for a while) of the show was the Dufour 325, mostly for superficial reasons like it was handsome, comfortable, and sleek. What’s with the transformers steering wheel though? How have I never seen this before?

And now, on to the Salon du Cheval!

Handsome beastie! Breed: Ardennais

Every horse related item or activity under the sun made an appearance at the Salon, from miniature pony racing to sports I had never heard of before like horseball for instance. Horseball is a mix of polo, rugby, and basketball, as it’s on horseback, the ball has to be passed around laterally like in rugby, and the “goal” is like an oversized open faced basketball hoop.

And of course, there were french cowboys!!! Yes they exist, in droves even. The “wild west culture” is shockingly alive in France; square dances, barrel racing, cowboy-hat tipping and all (this love of cowboy culture is extensively documented in the french edition of National Geographic’s October 2006 issue).

American pride belt buckles

And they say the French hate America! Based on these belt buckles, I’d say the French just hate the North…

Either the French haven’t gotten the memo about the modern significance of the confederate flag or they don’t give a shit. I’m going with the latter.

It's a miniature pony!!!

The real highlight of the show though was the Masters International de Voltige, or vaulting. For those who don’t know, or who don’t remember that kick ass horse chase seen in the Antonio Banderas Zorro, vaulting is essentially acrobatics performed on horseback. Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing Joanne Eccles World Vaulting Champ compete. I’m glad she went on towards the end of the event because no other competitor came close to matching her finesse. Joanne was the only athlete to make all her mounts, dismounts, flips, splits, handstands, etc. look totally effortless. So here’s to you Joanne! You are one hell of a vaulter!

Practical Info:

For information about the Salon Nautique:

For infortmation about the Salon du Cheval:

For a real dude ranch in France:

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