Fete des Gardians, Arles, Provence,
May First, Arles Festival
Arles in Provence on the Rhone River is often called the Gateway to the Camargue. Each year on the first of May the City of Arles celebrates the Camargue culture with the Fetes des Gardians, a celebration of the life of the cattle herders of the Camargue.
Arles Fete des Gardians Festival
Arles has Market Day on Wednesday and celebrates various festivals throughout the year most notably: a March Carnival, the above mentioned May First Festival des Gardians, an April (Easter) bull event (La Feria Pascale: Corridas). and a May Jazz festival. The May 1 bull and horse spectacle celebrates the work of the Guardians (Camargue cowboys) and costumed men and women of Arles elect a Queen of Arles who will reign for the next year.
In June Les Fetes d'Arles celebrates with fireworks and in the first two weeks of July, Arles celebrates International Photography and the theater.
Arles Events and Festivals
Arles, Renting a house or vacation rental apartment in Arles would be a good bet for travelers that will not have a rental car.
Bus service from Arles covers all of Provence and would put Aix, Marseilles, the Camargue, and Avignon within reach. The city itself is spectacular with major Roman Ruins everywhere.
In early September Arles celebrates a Rice Festival with Camargue horses and bulls running in the streets and open barbecues cooking vats of Paella. The city again hosts bullfights in the Roman arena.
Arles was once an important Roman City in Provence. The Fetes des Gardians takes place in the first century coliseum where bull fights and horse events take place.
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Arles Roman Ruins in the city make it a great place for Renting a house or vacation rental apartment. Bus service from Arles covers all of Provence.
There are many areas for hiking outside of the city including the GR-6 trail which comes east from Eygalieress and through Les Baux and on to Tarascon, just north of Arles
Speed limits will be clearly marked and the Rotary will be a welcome site with its directions to various towns. Gassing up is similar to US with credit card and automatic shut-off at modern pumps. Car rental are available in all large cities and at many TGV Train Stations.
Information for those renting a vehicle in France
Biking and walking are popular in Arles. Walking trails in the city are marked with plaques.
The Fete des Gardians is an Arles festival held each May First to celebrate the cattle herders of the Camargue and their horsemanship while working with the black bulls of the Camargue.
The Gardians are noted for their horsemanship with their white Camargue horses as they herd the black cattle of the Camargue and particularly the black bulls bred for the bullrings of Spain and Southern France.
The horsemen and women of the Camargue have organized since the 1500s into groups or clubs that now celebrate the tradition of the Camargue and the Camargue cowboy with exhibitions and festivals. In the bull fighting season, the horsemen and women of the Camargue will herd the bulls into the arena, often running them through the streets of the villages to the delight of gathered spectators.
On May first, the men and women of Arles dress in the Arles costume of the 17th century and accompanied by the Gardians on their white horses, they parade through the streets of Arles to the Notre Dame de la Mayor church for a blessing in the ancient language of Provence.
The parade of women in silk and lace dresses reminiscent of an early impressionist painting are accompanied by the men of Arles in their costumes and by the flute and drum players who perform traditional music.
The festival moves to the 12,000-seat, Roman Coliseum built in 90 AD, where the Camargue horsemen and women put on a display of traditional horsemanship skills.
The games include riding skills where the men circle the ring at a gallop and try to grab oranges held on a tray by young women. Another game involves three men on horseback who have a friendly fight over the possession of a bouquet of flowers offered by a young woman.
Women riders lead their horses through dance steps to the traditional music.
The men and women of the Camargue on their white Camargue horses demonstrate the traditions of the Ferea, the bull herding horsemanship techniques used in the Camargue to round up the bulls and to prepare them for the non-lethal bullfights of Provence. During this festival a Queen of Arles will be chosen.
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Provence festival includes the white Camargue horses