Wednesday, 22 August 2007
Wednesday Evening, The Amphitheatre, Arles
Every Wednesday there is a traditional Camarguaise bull fight in the Roman arena in Arles. A great opportunity to see the arena continuing to be used for the purpose for which it was built around 2,000 years ago.
Camarguaise, by the way, means 'of the Camargue' - the area of marsh and salt flats formed by the Rhone delta between Arles and the Mediterranean, where the wild bulls are raised in 'manades', or ranches, by the cowboys of the Camargue, the 'guardians', riding white Camargue ponies and surrounded by lagoons of flamingos.
The bulls are not killed. Indeed they are the heroes. It is they that have first billing on the posters advertising the fight and individual bulls gain a following amongst aficionados. The challenge is for the 'razateurs' (the bull fighters) to cut a very small, string rosette tied to the horns of the bull as the bull charges. It's very skilful and potentially very dangerous. These are wild bulls with unprotected horns.
A particular feature of the Course Camarguaise is the way in which the razateurs use the side boarding of the arena to leap to safety. (Sometimes the bulls follow!)