Camargue Culture

The course Camarguaise is a local Camargue variation of the bullfight, but one in which the bulls aren't harmed. It sees amateur razeteurs (from the word 'shave') wearing skin-tight white shirts and trousers get as close as they dare to the taureau (bull) to try to snatch rosettes and ribbons tied to the bull's horns, using a crochet (a razor-sharp comb) held between their fingers. They leap over the arena's barrier as the bull charges, making spectators' hearts lurch.

Bulls are bred on a manade (bull farm) by manadiers, who are helped in their daily chores by gardians (Camargue cattle-herding cowboys). These mounted herdsmen parade through Arles during the Fête des Gardians in May.

Many manades also breed the creamy white cheval de Camargue (Camargue horse) and some welcome visitors; ask at tourist offices in Arles and Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

A calendar of courses Camarguaises is online at the Fédération Française de la Course Camarguaise, with many occurring at the arena in Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Recortadores (where the aim is to leap safely over the charging bull, rather than wound or kill it) also happens during the bullfighting season (Easter to September).