Corrida and Course Camarguaise in Arles France
Corrida and Course Camarguaise: During the Feria season, from Easter to the end of September, one attraction in Arles is the corrida or the course camarguaise!
Useless to say that Arles and Camargue is “The” country of Bull!
Bulls have lived here since Roman times, and are part of everyone daily life. Tradition and culture revolve around the bull icon, whether it's the Camargue bull, the true hero of the Camargue "running of the bulls" style event, or the "toro brave", derived from Spanish bullfighting, which first appeared in France in 1701, and fought in arenas for the first corrida or Spanish bullfight in 1853..
The traditional "Feria Corridas" or bullfighting in the Roman arena of Arles, are held from Easter ("Feria de Pâques") up to the end of September ("Feria du Riz") and attract 500,000 visitors to the Provence region each year.
About Corrida: rules and traditions
The fight is governed by the appointed local president, who insures that the traditional French bullfighting rules and regulations are respected. The "paseo" or parade is introduced by trumpet call, and all the participants are presented to the public. Then the first bull surges out of the bull pen "tori", to be observed by the torero with his cape, thus allowing him to judge the animal's peculiarities right from the beginning.
The corrida can be divided into three parts or "tercios":
- tercio de pique: the picador, on his armored and blindfolded horse, will test the courage of the bull by stabbing him with a lance, in the top of the "morillo", the mound of muscle on the bull's neck, leading to the animal's first loss of blood. If the picador does his job well, the bull will hold its head and horns lower during the following stages of the event, making him dangerous, and enabling the matator to perform his elegant, traditional passes.
- tercio de banderilles: banderillos or "peones" who assist the "torero", place three pairs of brightly coloured "banderillas" or barbs into the flanks of the bull, to weaken the enormous neck and shoulder muscles of the animal and further test it's stamina, and to encourage the bull to attack. The matador may choose to place these banderillas himself, if he so desires.
- tercio de combat ou muleta: this is the matador’s moment of glory. By using a small red cape or "muleta" in one hand, he must harmonize with the animal's movements, holding a sword or "estoquade" in the other, to deal the final and fatal blow.
Good to know:
Before the Feria, the "Espace Toro", the bull corrals located in Gimeaux, present the bulls used for the corrida and offer information about bullfighting traditions in the south of France, Provence region.
Normally two fights take place per day in a famous, historic monument, the Roman arena of Arles.
About course camarguaise: rules and traditions
Course Camarguaise is the local version of bullfighting.
It is a summer pastime practiced in many small towns around Arles and the area. There are local leagues which are reported in local newspapers..
This different kind of bullfighting is known alternately as "course libre" or "course camarguaise". This is a bloodless spectacle (for the bulls) in which the objective is to snatch a rosette from the head of a young bull.
The participants, or raseteurs, begin training in their early teens against young bulls from the Camargue region before graduating to regular contests held principally in Arles and Nîmes but also in other Provençal and Languedoc towns and villages.
Before the course, anencierro — a "running" of the bulls in the streets — takes place, in which young men compete to outrun the charging bulls. The course itself takes place in a small (often portable) arena erected in a town square.
For a period of about 15–20 minutes, the raseteurs compete to snatch rosettes (cocarde) tied between the bulls' horns. They don't take the rosette with their bare hands but with a claw-shaped metal instrument called a raset or crochet(hook) in their hands, hence their name. Afterwards, the bulls are herded back to their pen by gardians (Camarguais cowboys) in a bandido, amidst a great deal of ceremony. The star of these spectacles are the bulls, who get top billing and stand to gain fame and statues in their honor, and lucrative product endorsement contracts.