Arles-Fete des Gardians part 2


The participants of the parade march into the coliseum. I couldn’t help think about Romans who had sat here centuries ago and what they watched.

After a lunch in a restaurant in the shadow of the coliseum, we entered the coliseum itself for a show put on by the Gardiens and others. It was well done and very interesting. I especially enjoyed the bull “fight” where no bull dies but boys run in and out of the ring trying to grasp a red knot on top of the bull’s head. The bull ran all around, pawed the ground and tried to catch the boys who nimbly jumped over the interior fence. One bull actually jumped over the fence itself until forced back out into the ring.

Everyone who had been in the parade filed into the interior of the ring and a new president of their order was appointed. Then the men did several “games”. One was racing around the ring on their horse and trying to grab an orange held out on a plate by three women. No one managed to get all three. Next a man would take a bouquet of flowers offered by a woman and two other men would try to get it away from him-all on horseback. Only one man managed to lose his bouquet and most bouquets ended up being torn almost to pieces. There was a game with a lance where a gardian on horseback tried to put his lance through a ring-only one man did this.

My favorite part of the performance was six women on horse back all riding side saddle, or amazon as they call it here, and leading their horses in an intricate dance to music. It was truly beautiful. Then some women did a dance to music from the flutes and drums, delicately weaving their way in an age old dance. I was glad to see that it wasn’t all just men and that the women were included.

The performance ended with the gardians showing how they headed cattle. Four bulls were let into the ring and the riders circled them forcing them into the center keeping the horses very close together so the bulls couldn’t get out. It was incredible to watch the teamwork required to do this.

I can’t recommend this festival enough to anyone in the area on May 1st. To get a glimpse of what Provence is really all about, to get a taste of the traditions abounding there and to see what the heart of Provence consists of, is a real treat.


This is everyone who was in the parade.


This man is trying to grab an orange held up on a plate by the girl-he missed.


Two of the six women leading their horses in a little waltz.


The four bulls let into the ring with the gardians starting to move in.


Here are the four bulls in the center of the ring of horses from the back.


Here they are from the front.

4 thoughts on “Arles-Fete des Gardians part 2

  1. Linda! Thanks for visiting my blog! Yes, I remember you’re Dianne’s sister and I am so glad you wrote. I must add you to my list now so I won’t lose you again. Is that ok? I had somehow misplaced your blog–doy. I love it. I need to catch up since your return from your whirlwind trip. Such excitement. I’m so glad you came by!! (Claritin does nothing for me! Isn’t it funny how some work great for some and zilch for others?) P.S. I miss waving to Dianne from the front porch….. 🙁 Maybe they’ll move back! Wishful thinking, huh.

  2. P.S. I love the Van Gogh. He is one of my all-time favs. I aboslutely loved the colors in this one. Thanks for sharing the re-pro of his room. Fascinating. So the euros were worth it just so all of us could see! Thanks!!

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