27 September 2015

Autumn Festival Camarguais

We're at home in Palavas-les-Flots for this weekend's Autumn Festival. We didn't really know what to expect, except it clearly involved bulls!

Well, think of a combination of a western roundup and a county fair. At the beach :-)

Friday, the French cowboys drove the bulls into town - barriers were up, and droppings fell in the streets. The rest of the evening was full of free street concerts.

Saturday, the bulls were branded and judged, followed by more music, then fireworks.

Today, the bulls were driven along the beach (more barriers, but these seemed more for form) to waiting trucks. There were more horses (and cowboys) than bulls! The quai was blocked off on both sides, and the crowds were everywhere! Cars were parked even in the centers of the roundpoints; people were still coming in even when we left.

We enjoyed our walk around town, listening to about half a dozen musical groups, and had a nice long lunch out - neither of us could resist another Gardianne de Taureau (bull stew, which we first had in Nîmes).

Later in the afternoon, we watched Les Joutes, or water jousting. This is when two teams compete to see who can make the most players fall into the water. Each team gets in a boat which has a platform sticking out in front. The jouster has a shield and a spear, and as the boats approach each other, each jouster stikes at his opponent. Of course their situation is somewhat precarious, and one (or both) falls off. Into the water. Fully clothed. Oh yes, and the whole time, they are goaded on by a band playing on the quai :-)

I didn't have a camera with me, but here is a shot from the tourism office:

Although it is officially and culturally Autumn, the weather is still very much of the Summer variety. They took down the private beach barriers this morning, but the beach is still *very* crowded! The water is what I would call bracing :-/ - not nearly as cold as Englebright on Memorial Day.

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