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If water sports is not your “thing” then you must go and see the water jousts that take place in the summer, mainly in August, along the coast of the Languedoc. They are exactly what the name suggests, medieval style jousts, but with the jousters mounted on board boats.
They attract large crowds of supporters and spectators and are great fun to watch. Two substantial wooden boats are rowed towards each other by eight or ten oarsmen. They pass each other on the left, much like horses in conventional land jousts. One jouster on each boat stands on a special raised platform at the stern of the boat about three metres above the surface of the water. In addition to the jouster and the rowers, the crew consists of a helmsman and two musicians, one playing a kind of drum and the other a kind of oboe. Also on board are other jousters who will take part in the next joust.
The main one is held in Sete on the Feast of St Louis on 25 August. The winner becomes the local celebrity for a year. This form of “combat” dates back to the Middle Ages and is a ritualised battle between married men and youths. Dressed in white with their bare feet braced against the boards of their boats, the jousters face each other with a shield in one hand and a wooden lance in the other.
Bullfighting Love it or loathe it, it is very popular in the south of France, particularly in the Languedoc, and is very much part of the culture here. It has been a tradition for centuries, due to the close proximity to Spain. Without doubt, one of the best times to visit is during the 4 day long Feria de Béziers when the town is in carnival mode!
Much pomp and ceremony takes place during a bullfight and it is basically a test of courage, strength and skill between a bull and a matador, or torero. The torero must read the bull and anticipate his actions. His job is, admittedly to stay alive, but most importantly to entertain the crowd. Depending on his prowess (and the applause in the arena), the dignitary of the day may award an ear, or two ears, as a mark of his performance. Not everyone can bear the bull fights and there is still much else going on in the town. There is the enchanting horse show, the Spanish flamenco dancers, concerts, processions of floats and bands and much, much more. The Feria lots of different types of entertainment which suit all ages and most of it is free.
Carcasonne: During the summer there are medieval evenings with jousting, troubadours, archery, light shows and entertainment of the Middle Ages. On Bastille Day (14 July) there are fireworks in Le Cité and during the summer there is the Festival de Carcassonne with music, theatre and arts.