Transhumance in Riez

A Transhumance Festival is a great way to look at life as it was in times past, something that most festivals in France do. My husband and I made the trip deep into Lavender country to the village of Riez to observe the transhumance, when sheep (and goats and cows in some areas) are moved from lower country up into the mountains passing through villages on the way. Nowadays, due to heavy traffic and cities not wanting sheep passing through their streets, sheep are transported up to the fields of the mountains with huge trucks. I saw one the other day stuffed with sheep and little lambs in a container at the very bottom.
Times have changed in the containment of sheep in fields as well. At one time a shepherd and his dog had to watch over the flock at all times. Now there are fences that are charged with a light electrical current and one of the flock wears a special collar that keeps it and the others from trying to leave the area.
The Transhumance in Riez is mostly a tourist happening, I would guess, but rather thrilling nonetheless. The bells of the church ring out at 10:30 and shortly afterwards a shepherd and his dog make their way down the street followed by hundreds of sheep. The sheep huddle together, not moving onto the sidewalks, afraid of the people lined up to see them. After they have gone through the village, they end up in a field on the other side of the village with old Roman columns eagerly eating the fresh grass.

The shepherd leading his flock into the village.

All of the sheep were marked with a painted green C on their backs. I think this ram-the only one in the flock-didn’t like the color as he had the paint all over his horns and face.

Riez has a wonderful little market going on on Sundays selling articles from Provence, such as lavender oil and soap and olive oil. There were also some men from the Alps playing their long horns and then some women dressed in traditional costumes did some dancing to flutes and drums. It was a delightful look at a part of life now gone but not forgotten.

The men playing their Alpine horns, the Alphorn.

The women dancing.

A look at a lavender field. The lavender is just starting to bloom. It will be a couple of weeks before it is fully alive with its divine fragrance and color.

3 thoughts to “Transhumance in Riez”

  1. There is nothing more soothing than the fragrance of lavender–and nothing prettier as it streches out across a field. Linda

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