Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oh les Vachettes!

When the weather is nice and hot in the South of France (le Midi, plutot), little villages will host "Les Vachettes." I really enjoyed my first taste. At the time, I was living in Spain, and I had no appreciation for the Spanish corrida (bullfight). It was too violent for me. One of my visits to France happened to coincide with Gallargue le Montueux's fete du village, and there was a vachette during the weekend. Jube, le Pacha and I walked out to the small village arena where I was amazed to discover such an interesting sport.

Each of the bulls has a little tag tied to one of his horns, and the raseteurs have to pull it off. They have to coax the bull to charge, grab the tag, and leap over the side of the barrier. It is extremely physical and exhilarating to watch. Local farmers use the competition to show off their livestock, and none of the bulls are killed. Local businesses add prizes to make winning more exciting--for example, the announcer will call out, "20 Euros to Jean-Phillipe if he can get the tag in the next 5 minutes!" I think the audience can do the same, but I'm not certain. In Gallargues, the vachettes were free to watch, but sometimes you have to pay.

One of the attractions is, of course, les raseteurs themselves. They are always dressed in white and are extremely athletic since they have to jump over the barriers quite often. Sometimes, after a jump, they can get very close to the audience. I guess they're kind of like the rodeo riders of France, and have deep Southern accents to prove it.

This kind of fun is something I miss about summer in Montpellier, the way I miss the Delaware County Fair in autumn. I suppose I'm just a rural hick at heart.

1 comment:

Janna said...

I love the title of this post! If I had a centime for every time I've heard "oooh la vache" in the past year! :)