Serious stuff in Val d’Hérens, the tributary valley to the south of Sion, Combats de Reines (Kuhkämpfe in German) are organised to decide which beast is most suited to lead the herd to summer pastures. Contests take place on selected Sundays from March to May and August to September.
Bulls – fed oats concentrate (believed to act as a stimulant) and sometimes wine – charge and lock horns, then try to force each other backwards. The winner, or herd’s ‘queen’, can be worth Sfr20,000. Combatants rarely get hurt so visitors shouldn’t find the competition distressing. There is a grand final in Aproz (a 10-minute postal-bus ride west of Sion) in May on Ascension Day, and the last meeting of the season is held at Martigny’s Foire du Valais in October.