In the Camargue, traditions are an integral part of our culture
The result of years of selective-breeding, the bull has something of a cult status. It is at the centre of all popular cultural festivals, or as we call them, “fêtes votives”. The “course camarguaise” (Camargue-style of bullfighting) is the main attraction. Viewed from the outside as a kind of game between bulls and “raseteurs” (bullfighters), it is recognised as a sport through the French Federation of “Courses Camarguaises”. The “raseteurs” dressed in white must remove the “attributs” (rosettes and strings) placed around the horns of the bulls. The most valiant bulls are called “cocardiers” and their names appear at the top of posters.
The Camargue Cross, or Cross of the Gardians, embodies three fundamental virtues:
- The cross and the trident-shaped tool used by the “gardians” (bull herders), represents faith,
- The anchor of the fishermen symbolises hope,
- The heart represents the charity of the holy Marys, Jesus’ three female disciples, who, according to legend, came to settle in the Camargue.
The Camargue Cross was created in 1926 by Hermann-Paul, a Parisian illustrator, at the request of the Marquis de Baroncelli.
Bull gravestones are a real curiosity. They are mostly located on land belonging to “manadiers” (the owner of a farm that breeds bulls). The only exception is that of the bull called “Le Sanglier”, at the entrance of the village of Le Cailar, in honour of this famous “cocardier” belonging to herd called a “manade” (also used to describe the farm that breeds the bulls) belonging to Fernand Granon (1920-1930)
In some villages you can see small images stencilled the doorways of houses: they are called “empègues”. They are affixed by the villages’ young people during the “Aubades” (collection of donations for the organisation of the “fête votive”, parties in celebration of the village’s patron saint).