Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion

10.08.2012

Camarguaise bull race and taurine traditions of Provence and Languedoc, between popular culture and promotion of the territory.


The camarguaise bull race is at the heart of the traditions in Provence and Languedoc. It is a cultural, economic and touristic stake in the Camargue area. These events take place during the "temporade" period which lasts from March to September. They may occur during village festivals or religious celebrations, or independently, on specific taurine days. These popular shows have a clearly defined territory, which spans four départments: a major part of the Bouches-du-Rhône, Hérault, some townships of the Vaucluse and, mostly, the southern part of the Gard départment.

 

The bullfighting culture in south-eastern France has three dimensions: the sports, tradition and folklore of a popular show. There are four types of bullfights:

- The ferrades constitute the starting point. It consists in branding with red-hot iron the young bulls of a herd, known as manade.

- Then street racing, corresponding to the original path of the bulls between meadows and the bullring.

- The abrivado, a word derived from the Provençal abrivo ("arrival"), refers to the arrival of the bulls escorted by a group of cowboys (gardians) on horseback to the bullring.

- The bandido corresponds to the return of the bulls back to the meadows.

These traditions have evolved from the late eighteenth century to the present day and have become staged performances of what was done in the past. They no longer have the practical function they once had: escorting bulls on horseback from one point to another.

 

The organization of the Camargue bull races is an important economic activity. According to a study by the French Federation of Camarguaise Bull Racing (FFCC) in 2008, the overall economic weight of the Camargue races amounted to € 27 580 977.26 per year. These revenues are generated by in part directly by the show itself, the traditions that accompany the Camargue bullfights, actors, professionals and farms, and secondly, by indirect economic activity from the maintenance of bullrings to the raseteurs's clothing, to catering and tourism. These data show that the Camargue bull race has a financial impact on its territory. If it fails to reach the breakeven point, it depends on peripheral activities. These activities serve to generate revenue for certain participants: organizers, raseteurs, breeders. Bullfighting tradition, including the Camargue bull races remain an asset for the territories. The Camargue race seems to be a sporting evolution of traditional bullfighting practices in Languedoc and Provence. With regard to the public, races and bullfighting have recently established codes but the public feels like they are dealing with something old and this applies to each of the five circles of spectators who are found around the bullring: media, fans, newcomers, tourists and jury.

 

A contribution of the University of Avignon, by Laure Marchis-Mouren