Foire de la Madeleine, Beaucaire, France
The famous Foire de la Madeleine (Madeleine Fair) first took place in 1217 along the banks of the river. It became an annual event, and by the 17th century it was the largest in France. At its peak, over 300,000 traders and visitors would attend, coming from all over Europe and even the Middle East. Today the fair has been revived as an annual week-long festival in July, featuring a grand parade followed by a free event in Les Arènes (the bull ring), a fun fair, markets, music performances around town and a series of events involving horses and Taureaux (bulls).
The pièce de resistance is "Les 100 Taureaux" when 100 bulls stampede through the streets. Run with them if you dare, or watch from the safety. The Cult of the Taureaux is very important here, as in other nearby towns such as Arles and NÎmes. If you are not prepared to watch a bull fight, try one of the other events, such as an Abrivado, where horsemen (and women) corral a herd of Taureaux, or Courses Camarguaises, where men run to snatch various talismans from the horns of a Taureau. Definitely still dangerous, but not deadly.
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