Since I was a little girl the South of France has developed considerably. The heat and the chirping cicadas are the same, but where once there were just beautiful sandy beaches there are now rising apartment blocks. When I first visited the Pont du Gard we just walked down to the river and swam in its waters; now you have to park miles away, pay 18 Euros, but there is now a fancy complex with a museum!!! Progress eh!!!
However, I’m glad to say, some of the craziness I remember of France still remains intact. In the town of Saintes Maries de la Mer we stumbled on a traditional festival. I was desperate for a wee as always, but there were no public loos. To put me out my agony my parents decided to find a restaurant. Whilst happy on the throne, I was disturbed by all this jeering coming from the street outside. On returning to my seat I find some girls racing through the streets on donkeys.
To add to the madness, after dinner we discover a big crowd gathered around a fenced area on the beach. Suddenly there was a huge crash and a bull was a released into the makeshift arena. Anyone, and I mean anyone, in the audience could risk their life in the arena and torment the poor creature. The bull would fling sand in the air as he stamped the ground with his feet and then charge. The tormentor would then make a quick escape through the arena bars. I don’t think the terms health and safety exists in the French vocabulary. :oS
One boy was standing on some bales of hay and the bull managed to make him topple over; it was a close shave as the bull pursued his prey whom was now lying on the floor. I wonder if I was the only one in the audience routing for the bovine. :oS The bull appeared to enjoy the game, but after 5 minutes of failing to spear anyone on his horns he got bored and returned to his metal paddock.
Only in France!!!