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Traditionnal bull games 

What is Bouvine ?

The Camargue, only a few kilometres from Saint-Christol, is the heart of the bull races called Bouvine. Bouvine is very different from the Spanish bullfighting, as the bulls are not wounded or killed. Men and bulls meet in the arenas to play an intriguing game of cat and mouse.

The men, called raseteurs, have to grab, with the aid of a small hooked instrument, the cocardes (small bits of fabric and string) that are tide around the bull's horns. This involves a lot of running and chasing, and some hair-raising encounters between both bull and raseteurs !

The bulls are of pure Camargue breed, recognizable by their upward-pointing (as opposed to the Spanish bulls that have downward-pointing horns). The bulls are generally castrated. 

Notice that the horns of the bulls are naked (i.e. not padded), thereby representing a very real danger for the men. The bouvine requires much skill and experience from the raseteurs as well as a large dose of courage.


What are the rules of the bouvine ?

The bouvine starts with the capelado ; the raseteurs, all dressed in white, walk into the arena under the applause of the public and to the sound of Carmen by Bizet. 

The bull is then let in and the raseteurs take it in turn to try to grab the cocardes that have been tied around its horns. This is done by a much practiced technique : the raseteur first catches the attention of the bull, then runs in front of it, extending his arm towards the bull's head to detach the prized cocardes.

The successful actions are rewarded by applauses by the public as well as money paid by the presidency, the spectators and the tradesmen of the village. 

The raseteurs often have to quite literally fly over the security barrier onto the spectators' seats to escape the oncoming bull. The interesting thing about this game is that the bulls know the game as well as the men, and in some cases have even gained widespread notoriety !

At the end of the race, the presidency presents an award or trophy to the best raseteur.

In addition to the bouvine many other performances take place with bulls such as the abrivado, bandido and encierro. These all take place during the festival of Saint-Christol, which is held every year, the last week of July. Bulls are even released in the street of the village for the great pleasure of old and young !



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