A show in the arena and streets
The Feria is a traditional and popular bull fiesta, bringing together both aficionados and curiosity-seekers from all horizons. And it's all about partying!
The Arles Feria is the region's top bull fiesta, along with the Easter Feria and Rice Feria. The Istres and Saint Martin de Crau ferias also draw large crowds. But there are also various other bull celebrations in the local villages, mainly in Camargue.
The Feria is synonymous with the corrida, a combat between man and bull. It's obviously a very controversial subject. But the Feria is much more than just bullfighting. It is a genuine bull fiesta played out in the ring and in the local streets.
Various games are played in the arena, although it's still a question of man against bull. The famous 'Courses Camarguaises' (Camargue Races) can even be referred to as a sport and have their own national federation. The 'razeteurs' have to be amazingly deft to grab the trinkets attached to the bull. The trinkets, or 'attributs', are fixed on the animal's head and consist of a rosette, a ribbon on the forehead, tassels on the ears and a string wound around the horns. The horns are fitted with protections, but the challenge remains risky.
It's thrilling seeing the 'razeteurs' leaping over the fences to escape the bull… And the bull leads the dance – he is the absolute star of the show. He is led back to his meadow on the ranch after the event.
The 'Toro Piscine' is another of the summer's biggest events, this time starring young cows. The arena is also used for various heritage shows, when Arlesian ladies in their traditional costume and headdresses parade in the company of the 'gardians' (Camargue cowboys), surrounded by free-running horses.
The show continues in the streets, with demonstrations of 'abrivados' (bulls released down the main street) and 'bandidos' (when the bulls are herded back to their meadow at the end of the day). The horseback 'gardians' drive the bulls from the meadow to the arena and back.
The Saint-Rémy-de-Provence feria offers more of a family atmosphere, with lively streets, yoked carthorses and a procession of around 100 horses. Quite a sight!
Camargue, mythical place of Féria
The Gardians Celebration
No Feria would be complete without a bodega and a banda for live music! And it's here that things start heating up because it's FIESTA TIME! Friends and strangers alike get together to have fun and enjoy some tapas, paella, beer and wine. True enough, the party can become a bit of a binge just because the atmosphere is so great. Olé! This is also the moment to show off your dancing talents with a Sevillana or Flamenco, to the enthralling sound of the bandas wandering the streets.
What I like most about the Feria is the various satellite events it attracts, such as the Gourmet Feria during the Arles Rice Feria, celebrating the new rice harvest – a great opportunity to buy up some local fare and creations by high-quality artists and craftsmen. The Gourmet Feria also features workshops and various activities on the Camargue theme.
The Feria still has its bullfighting aficionados, but it is also a fun event in general, with races and games on the bull theme attracting ever-bigger crowds.
The region's arenas, whether Roman or more modern, are part of our heritage and are now a highly-coveted stage for concerts.
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