"In the Anglo-Saxon literary world if you want to publish a book, you look for an agent first. So I never thought to do anything else. This French notion of sending your manuscript direct to a publishing house is foreign to me. I do understand that it worries some people in France, where a delicate balancing act ensures that certain books are published which would never be elsewhere."
"There’s less resistance to agents on the part of publishers. The new generation of editors has had more marketing experience and is not purely literary.”
Publisher "Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens, director of Editions POL, [...] has publicly said that he will not consider a manuscript that has been submitted by an agent, SOURCE
Enter the Agent
The rise of the Literary Agent, in France: